Sixteen Michigan Republicans who submitted a certificate falsely claiming that Donald Trump won the state's electoral votes in 2020 are now facing a potential federal investigation.
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel revealed Thursday night that after a year-long probe into the matter, her office has opted to refer the case to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Michigan.
"I will tell you that we've been evaluating charges for nearly a year now based on these activities," Nessel told MSNBC's Rachel Maddow. "I will say that under state law, I think clearly you have forgery of a public record, which is a 14-year offense, and election law forgery, which is a five-year offense. But what we have decided to do with the investigation, in light of the fact that of course we have seen ... various different false slates of electors from several different states, in what seems to be a coordinated effort between the Republican parties in various different states, we think this is a matter that is best investigated and potentially prosecuted by the feds."
Nessel added that she hopes the U.S. Department of Justice will become involved and "use the information they already have to better understand exactly what happened that day, so that federal charges can be evaluated."
"We had thought that it was very possible that we would be bringing charges, and we still might," Nessel said. "Of course there's no double jeopardy if you are to bring both state and federal charges for the same offense. But obviously this is part of a much bigger conspiracy, and our hope is that the federal authorities, the Department of Justice and United States Attorney General Merrick Garland will take this in coordination with all of the information they've received, and make an evaluation as to what charges these individuals might face. I mean, I can think of many — forgery of a public record for the purposes of defrauding the United States, or conspiracy to commit an offense to defraud the United States — and there are so many others, but that will be up to the feds to decide."
According to the Detroit News, Nessel's announcement "demonstrated the potential seriousness and ongoing nature of the investigation and could have repercussions throughout state politics, as the 16 Republicans in question, include high-ranking members of the state GOP, like Co-Chairwoman Meshawn Maddock."
"On Dec. 14, 2020, Michigan's 16 presidential electors met inside the state Capitol to officially cast their ballots for Biden. A group of Republicans, including some of the GOP electors, attempted to enter the building, after meeting at party headquarters, but were blocked by the Michigan State Police," the newspaper reported. "According to a Dec. 14, 2020, memorandum, obtained by The Detroit News, Kathy Berden, a Republican national committeewoman from Michigan, sent the GOP electors certificate to the U.S. Senate, the U.S. archivist, Benson's office and Robert Jonker, the chief judge of U.S. District Court for Michigan's Western District. The 16 Michigan Republicans who signed the certificate inaccurately claimed they were the 'duly elected and qualified electors' for Michigan. They also stated that they 'convened and organized' in the state Capitol, which they did not."
Michigan is one of at least five states where Republicans submitted fake electoral certificates declaring Trump the winner, Maddow reported Wednesday night.
Watch Nessel's announcement below.
BREAKING: Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel says the investigation into the submission of a false slate of electors in the 2020 election has been referred to federal prosecutors. "We think this is a matter that is best investigated and potentially prosecuted by the feds."pic.twitter.com/cTSxTK1ZG2— Maddow Blog (@Maddow Blog) 1642129204
Trump-loving Texas AG Ken Paxton illegally withheld Jan. 6 records and must release them: DA's Office
The Travis County (Texas) district attorney on Thursday found that Attorney General Ken Paxton violated the state's open records law by not turning over his communications from last January when he visited Washington, D.C., for a pro-Trump rally that preceded the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.
The district attorney's office gave Paxton four days to turn over the documents or face a lawsuit. The action was prompted by a Jan. 4, 2022, complaint by the top editors at five of the state's largest newspapers: the Austin American-Statesman, The Dallas Morning News, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the Houston Chronicle and the San Antonio Express-News. The journalists argued that Paxton was withholding communications from the days surrounding Paxton's trip to Washington last year that are subject to public release under the state's open records law.
The Texas Public Information Act grants the public the right to government records, even those kept on personal devices or on a public official's online accounts.
Jackie Wood, director of public integrity and complex crimes at the Travis County District Attorney's Office, agreed with the journalists and hand-delivered her ruling in a letter to Paxton's office on Thursday. The letter said Paxton's office had broken Texas open records laws by withholding or failing to keep communications that would be releasable under the law.
Paxton did not immediately respond to requests for comment late Thursday night by phone and email.
Paxton led a failed attempt to overturn the 2020 presidential election, joining with other GOP attorneys general in a lawsuit seeking to invalidate swing state victories by Democrat Joe Biden. He and his wife, state Sen. Angela Paxton, R-McKinney, appeared at a pro-Trump rally on Jan. 6. Members of the crowd, stirred up by false claims of voter fraud, later stormed the Capitol, fought with riot police and threatened lawmakers as they disrupted Congress' certification of Biden's win over former President Donald Trump.
Normally, the Texas attorney general's office enforces the state open records law. But when an open records complaint is filed against a state agency, the law says the Travis County district attorney or the attorney general must handle them.
In this case, the newspapers went to Travis County District Attorney José Garza, a Democrat. Paxton is a Republican.
The complaints stem from decisions by Paxton's office to claim attorney-client privilege to prevent the disclosure of every single email and text sent by the attorney general in the days surrounding the attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
Separately, the U.S. House committee investigating the events of Jan. 6 requested communications between Trump and Paxton in August. That request was part of a series of letters seeking materials from the National Archives and Records Administration, the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and other executive agencies.
In their complaint to the Travis County district attorney, the newspaper editors said Paxton was failing to retain and turn over government communications that he had made on his personal cellphone. They also complained that Paxton was turning over other people's communications in response to requests for his text messages.
The determination by the Travis County district attorney adds to Paxton's political woes. The two-term Republican is seeking reelection this year but is facing stiff competition from three other GOP challengers: Land Commissioner George P. Bush, former Texas Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman and U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert.
The three have blasted the incumbent for multiple legal issues he is facing, including a six-year-old securities fraud case that has dogged him since his first year in office. He overcame that to win reelection in 2018. But in October 2020, eight of his former top deputies accused him of bribery and misuse of office. Weeks later, all eight deputies had either been fired or resigned from the attorney general's office.
Four of those whistleblowers are now suing Paxton under the state's whistleblower law. They are seeking compensation for lost wages and other damages, and some are seeking reinstatement to their former positions.
Paxton is also reportedly under FBI investigation for the allegations registered by the whistleblowers.
He has denied wrongdoing in all of these cases.
WATCH: Racist, beer-throwing attack on Long Island train leads to firing of car dealership employees
A viral video showing a racist attack aboard a Long Island Rail Road train has led to the firing of two employees by a Toyota dealership.
The incident reportedly occurred Monday night when an immigrant family, including a 10-year-old, were returning home from a New York Knicks game.
The video appears to show beer being thrown toward the family, before a man can be seen yelling at them, "Look straight! Don't f*cking look at me! I'm going to get arrested tonight!"
After another passenger tells the man that the argument is not worth getting arrested over, he responds, "I know it's not worth it, but these f*cking foreigners ain't taking over my f*cking country!"
Osman Canales, the founder of Long Island Immigrant Student Advocates, posted video of the incident on Facebook on Wednesday.
"The family are pressing charges and they asked for us to share this to expose these people. I am in contact with the family and they really need our support," Canales wrote. "They are very concerned and traumatized by this aggression. They confirmed what happened to them."
According to Canales, the victim said: “Please help me catch this couple that harassed me because I'm an immigrant.They also threw beer at us (my friend also has an accent). My 10-year-old witnessed this. They ruined my son's first basketball game experience. Someone else recorded this but, by the time the officers showed up, they left the station. I'm too nervous to talk right now and the footage is bad. If you hear anything, please let me know so that I can add it to the police report.”
Canales identified the attackers as a boyfriend and girlfriend who worked a Toyota dealership in Huntington, New York, and encouraged people to contact the business.
On Thursday, Empire Toyota of Huntington announced that the two employees had been fired.
"Empire Toyota ownership and management were outraged by the event involving two of its employees this past Monday night on the Long Island Railroad," the dealership wrote on Facebook. "The two employees were suspended when we first heard about this incident, and, as our investigation just concluded, they have been terminated. The heart and soul of our labor force is extremely diverse and we value our employees beyond description. Further, our company’s deep support—financial and in-kind-- of Long Island’s diverse communities is a matter of public record. We can say without hesitation that whatever occurred on that LIRR train is in no way reflective of our company, its ownership, its management team, nor its employees."
Watch the video below.
SHARE!!!EXPOSE THE RACISTS!\nThis is a hate attack that happened ron #LongIsland this week 1/10/2022 to a family and a 10 yr old, while in the #LIRR Train.Identified as Kristen Digesaro boyfriend Justin likerman both work @ HuntingtonEmpireToyota631-364-0172\n#LongIsland #HateCrimepic.twitter.com/mWT9nv5YHS— Osman Canales (@Osman Canales) 1642031822