LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel expanded Tuesday on why she believes it’s better for federal authorities to criminally investigate 16 Republicans who falsely claimed they were Michigan’s presidential electors.
GOP officials in seven states submitted Electoral College certificates despite Democrat Joe Biden defeating then-President Donald Trump in their states, with two slates adding a caveat saying it was being done in case they were later recognized as electors. In five states, however, including Michigan, Republicans dishonestly certified that they were their state’s “duly elected and qualified electors,” Nessel said.
From a jurisdictional standpoint, she said, the Justice Department can determine if there was a multistate conspiracy.
Nessel, a Democrat who referred the matter to U.S. prosecutors last week after a nearly yearlong review, cited potential difficulties for her office interviewing people outside Michigan or using subpoena powers to bring them to the state.
She also noted that she attended the Electoral College ceremony inside the state Capitol in December 2020, when the real electors cast their votes for Biden after the certification of his 154,000-vote victory.
“I have some concerns about being called as a witness in this case,” Nessel told reporters in a Zoom call.
She again alleged that state crimes were committed but said the case isn’t specific to Michigan.
The goal, she said, should be to “find out who put them up to this. Is this part of a bigger conspiracy at play in order to undermine the legitimate results of the 2020 presidential election not just in Michigan but nationally? It’s going to involve interviews in other states and it’s going to involve possible prosecutions in other places. I simply won’t have jurisdiction over that.”
The U.S. attorney’s office in western Michigan has declined to comment on Nessel’s request.
Nessel didn’t rule out filing state charges later if federal officials decline to pursue charges.
“The gravity of this situation I don’t think can possibly be overstated as to what it means for our system of elections. We know how close we came to this being successful,” she said, alluding to Trump’s attempt to overturn the election and the violent storming of the U.S. Capitol last January.