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Some electors plot defendants appear for preliminary exam

Kari Henriksen observes a ballot drop box in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
OSCE Parlimentary Assembly
Kari Henriksen observes a ballot drop box in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Some of the defendants accused of pretending to be Michigan’s electoral college members after the 2020 presidential election appeared in court in Lansing Wednesday for a preliminary examination to help determine whether there’s enough evidence to move toward trial.

During Wednesday’s proceedings, the Attorney General’s office brought up a trio of witnesses.

First was Trooper Darren Green with the Michigan State Police. Green had been the one on duty at the state Capitol on December 14, 2020, when a group of people claiming to be on their way to cast Michigan’s electoral votes for former President Donald Trump tried to enter the building.

Trump had lost Michigan to former President Joe Biden by over 150,000 votes.

Green said the electors sworn to Biden had already arrived. So, Green said he turned the group away.

As much can be seen on a video of the exchange from the Detroit Free Press.

Attorneys for the defendants mostly objected to playing the video during a hearing, noting not all the people seen in the interaction were actively involved in the case. Judge Kristen Simmons ultimately allowed the video to be shown.

The defendants’ charges mainly concern forgery and publishing of a fake document claiming to be from the state’s electoral college members. The electors are accused of sending the document to the National Archives and Congress.

The prosecution argued the video of the exchange outside the Michigan Capitol showed some of that attempted publishing of the document.

During cross examination, an attorney for the defendants asked Green if he had thought to make a police report after the exchange as he would if he witnessed another crime. Green replied no.

Next, the prosecution brought up Michigan Elections Bureau Director Jonathan Brater.

Brater testified he first found out about the Trump electors' document on January 8, 2021, in an email he believed to be from the National Archives. Brater said he got in touch with the Attorney General’s office afterward.

Following Brater, James Van de Putte of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service discussed working with the Michigan Attorney General’s office on an investigation related to a mailed document.

The day of preliminary examinations ended before more witnesses could take the stand.

Proceedings are scheduled to continue for this first cohort of defendants Thursday.

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Colin Jackson is the Capitol reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network.
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