Arizona indicts Trump allies over fake elector scheme

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Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani is among those charged in Arizona
By Max Matza
BBC News

Arizona has indicted a number of former President Donald Trump’s advisers over an alleged scheme to flip his defeat in the state and overturn the 2020 election result.

Ex-Trump advisers Rudi Giuliani and Mark Meadows were among 18 indicted on counts including conspiracy and fraud.

Arizona is the fourth US state to file criminal charges in a “fake elector” scheme.

Mr Trump himself is not charged in the alleged Arizona plot.

The names of seven defendants are redacted in the indictment made public on Wednesday which does name 11 others.

Although Mr Giuliani and Mr Meadows, Mr Trump’s former chief of staff, are not named, the redacted defendants are referred to in a manner that exposes their identity.

The Arizona prosecutor’s office said the redacted names would be made public after all the defendants were formally presented with the charges.

The court documents also list a “former US president” – believed to be Mr Trump – as an unindicted co-conspirator.

The list of those named includes several current and former officials, such as Kelli Ward, the former chairwoman of the Arizona Republican Party, and her husband Michael Ward.

Two serving state lawmakers – Anthony Kern and Jake Hoffman – are among those charged.

Mr Hoffman told CBS News, the BBC’s US partner, that he was innocent of the charges and victim of “naked political persecution by the judicial process”.

An Arizona grand jury had agreed to the indictments after a year-long investigation.

Announcing the charges on Wednesday evening, Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes, a Democrat, said in a video statement: “I’ll not allow American democracy to be undermined – it’s too important.”

“The scheme, had it succeeded, would have deprived Arizona voters of their right to their votes counted for their chosen president,” she continued. “It would have effectively made their right to vote meaningless.”

Mr Biden won the state by 10,457 votes.

Three other states have filed criminal charges against the electors accused of falsely declaring Mr Trump to have won the 2020 presidential election.

Nevada, Michigan and Georgia – like Arizona, all swing states in the forthcoming November election – have also charged a number of Republican officials over similar schemes.

According to a Democratic-led congressional committee that investigated the 6 January Capitol Hill riots and Mr Trump’s alleged efforts to overturn the election results, the fake electors scheme was an attempt to interfere in the Electoral College system that decides presidential elections.

It centred on an attempt to persuade Republican-controlled state legislatures in seven states to select Republican electors or not name any electors in states that Mr Biden won, according to the committee.

Falsified certificates were then allegedly transferred to the US Senate in an effort to have their votes counted in the place of Arizona’s real electors.

19 July 202315 April

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