Jan 28, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Jan. 6 panel subpoenas "alternate" Trump electors

Bennie Thompson addresses the media after the House Jan. 6 select committee hearing in Cannon Building

Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) addresses the media after a House Jan. 6 select committee hearing in July 2021. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on Friday announced subpoenas for more than a dozen people who led groups of "alternate electors" for former President Trump.

Why it matters: Slates of fake electors organized by pro-Trump forces in the wake of the 2020 election have come under intense scrutiny in recent weeks around the one-year anniversary of the attack.

  • The scheme was reportedly led by Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani and other Trump campaign officials and involved putting forward illegitimate Trump electors in seven key states won by President Biden.
  • The electors were a major component of efforts to overturn the election, and are the subject of investigations by state and federal prosecutors.

Driving the news: Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), the chair of the select committee, sent a letter to the chairs and secretaries of each slate seeking documents and depositions.

  • "We are seeking information about your role and participation in the purported slate of electors casting votes for Donald Trump and, to the extent relevant, your role in the events of January 6, 2021," Thompson wrote in a letter to Nancy Cottle, the chair of the Arizona slate.
  • Citing documents from the National Archives, Thompson alleged the delegation sent a "Certificate of the Votes" to Congress for consideration on Jan. 6, when the Electoral College result was scheduled to be certified.
  • "The existence of these purported alternate-elector votes," Thompson continued, "was used as a justification to delay or block the certification of the election during the Joint Session."

Details: Besides Arizona, these delegations were from Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and New Mexico — mostly battleground states that put Biden over the top in the Electoral College.

  • "We believe the individuals we have subpoenaed today have information about how these so-called alternate electors met and who was behind that scheme," Thompson said in a statement.
  • "We encourage them to cooperate with the Select Committee’s investigation to get answers about January 6th."
  • Among those subpoenaed are David Shafer, the chair of the Georgia Republican Party, and Michael McDonald, the chair of the Nevada Republican Party.

What's next: Thompson has given the electors until Feb. 11 to turn over the requested documents, and until Feb. 16 to appear for depositions.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with additional details throughout.

Go deeper