Kenneth Chesebro is a key witness as the “fake voters” are charged

Twenty-four of Trump’s so-called bogus voters now face criminal charges in three different states, and one of the legal architects of the plan to deploy them, Kenneth Chesebro, has appeared as a witness in all cases.

Mr. Chesebro, a Harvard-educated lawyer, helped develop the plan to cast Republicans in battleground states won by Joseph R. Biden Jr. in 2020 as Trump voters. The scheme was part of an effort by Congress to block or delay the certification of Mr. Biden’s victory in the Electoral College on Jan. 6, 2021.

Earlier this week, a grand jury in Nevada indicted six former Trump voters, including top state GOP leaders, on charges of forgery and filing false documents.

In August, a grand jury in Atlanta returned an indictment against former President Donald J. Trump and 18 allies, including three who were fraudulent voters in Georgia. And in July, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel filed charges against all 16 Republicans who acted as Trump voters in her state. (In October, she dropped charges against one of them, James Renner, in exchange for his cooperation.)

Interest in Mr. Chesebro intensified after he pleaded guilty in October to one count of conspiracy in Georgia and was sentenced to five years’ probation. He was originally charged with seven felonies, including one count under the state’s racketeering statute.

“Everything happened after the plea in Georgia,” said Manny Arora, one of Mr. Chesebro’s lawyers in Georgia. “Everyone wants to talk about the notes and who they communicated with.”

The lawyer was referring to memos written by Mr Chesebro after the 2020 election, which outlined what he himself called a “bold, controversial strategy” likely to be rejected by the High Court. After his plea agreement in Georgia, Mr. Arora said, Mr. Chesebro was interviewed in Detroit by Ms. Nessel’s office, and he was also named as a witness this week in the Nevada indictment.

Asked whether Mr. Chesebro had agreements to avoid prosecution in the various jurisdictions, another of his lawyers, Robert Langford, said “that would be a reasonable criminal defense, that’s usually what you do,” adding that no ” wants to comment on everything that happens in any of the states.

Mr. Chesebro is also expected in Arizona next week, where the state’s attorney general, Chris Mayes, has been conducting his own months-long investigation into the voter conspiracy, people familiar with that investigation said. (Mr. Chesebro’s appearances in Michigan and Arizona were previously reported by CNN and The Washington Post.)

Mr. Chesebro worked for Vice President Al Gore during the 2000 presidential recount battle but later endorsed Mr. Trump. He and another lawyer, John Eastman, are believed to be key legal architects of the plan to use voter fraud in states lost to Mr. Trump, a development that has left some of his old colleagues scratching their heads.

“When the world turned and Donald Trump became president, I stopped hearing from him,” Lawrence Tribe, who was Mr. Gore’s general counsel and a mentor at Chesebro, said recently.

Mr. Chesebro’s lawyers have continued to generally defend his conduct, saying he was merely a lawyer offering legal advice during the 2020 election. But Mr. Arora said the Georgia legal team had decided to plea agreement because the document signed by the bogus voters in Georgia did not include text explaining that what they were signing was a contingency plan pending trial.

“They didn’t do that in Georgia,” he explained. “Because he was involved in it and that language wasn’t there, we decided to plead on that count. Not because it was all a scam or that it was a scam.

The three state voter surveys have taken very different approaches.

Fannie T. Willis, the district attorney for Fulton County, Georgia, brought a broad racketeering case involving Mr. Trump and top aides such as Rudolph W. Giuliani, his former personal lawyer, and Mark Meadows, who was the White House chief of staff staff. Ms. Willis reached cooperation agreements with most of the fraudulent voters before charges were filed.

The cases in Michigan and Nevada focus on the voters themselves, not those who aided their actions, although Ms. Nessel said her investigation remains open.

The underlying allegations of widespread election fraud that fueled the alleged fraudulent voter scheme have never been proven. New lawsuits this week from Jack Smith, the special counsel at the Justice Department who brought charges against Mr. Trump in his own federal election probe, underscored the illegitimacy of Mr. Trump’s chronic claims of election fraud, stressing that more in 2012 he made baseless claims about President Barack Obama’s victory over Mitt Romney.

Mr Trump made similar statements after his 2016 caucus loss in Iowa, when he said Senator Ted Cruz “didn’t win Iowa, he illegally stole it”, and after losing the general election vote to Hillary Clinton , which he said he won “if you take out the millions of people who voted illegally.”

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