Jan. 6 committee docs: Former Michigan GOP chair slams 2020 fake elector plan as ‘insane’
Michigan Republican Chair Laura Cox | Andrew Roth

Cox said she contracted COVID from Giuliani, blasts fake GOP electors’ plan to hide in Capitol and sign document

BY: LAINA G. STEBBINS

More congressional transcripts from the Jan. 6, 2021, committee have been released, with Michigan-based figures and events continuing to play a major role.

Following the revelation that U.S. Rep. Tim Walberg (R-Tipton) acted as an intermediary between former President Donald Trump and Michigan Republicans in efforts to halt the certification of the 2020 presidential election, newer details now show disagreements among top Michigan GOP officials in their bid to undermine the state election certification process in winter 2020.

Former Michigan GOP Chair Laura Cox, who headed the state party at the time, told investigators in May that she was not expecting the slate of fake Republican electors to sign a fraudulent document declaring Trump as the winner in Michigan. She had a different, more “ceremonial” plan in mind that was ultimately scuttled.

“They [the Trump campaign] were asking me to facilitate having the electors meet and sign some sort of document,” Cox said, which she was “uncomfortable with.”

“We came up with a document that we would have them have a ceremonial meeting, and one person would sign a document stating that if perhaps something were to happen in the courts, they were willing and able to serve as electors from Michigan for Donald Trump and [former Vice President] Mike Pence,” Cox said of her own plan.

Cox is a GOP former state House member who is married to former Attorney General Mike Cox. She was succeeded as chair in 2021 by former Ambassador Ron Weiser who ran on a ticket with Co-Chair Meshawn Maddock, a staunch Trump supporter who was one of the fake electors.

After hearing that the fake GOP electors were planning to meet in the state Capitol and hide in an “unnamed” senator’s office overnight to vote there the next day,  Cox said she told Bob Norton of Hillsdale College that the idea was “insane and inappropriate,” “a very, very bad idea and potentially illegal.”

Cox was not present when the fake electors met because she had COVID-19 at the time, which she told investigators she contracted from former Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani during his Michigan visit. The pair did a press conference before Giuliani took over a Dec. 2, 2020, legislative hearing.

Michigan GOP Chair Laura Cox and President Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani at a press conference in Michigan, Dec. 2, 2020 | Screenshot

Giuliani and various Trump-aligned figures made an hours-long spectacle out of a Michigan House Oversight Committee hearing. Giuliani, who was allowed by former committee Chair and now-House Minority Leader Matt Hall (R-Marshall) to take over the hearing and question “witnesses” without being under oath, used his time to prop up a litany of baseless conspiracy theories regarding alleged voter fraud and other improprieties during the 2020 election.

There is no evidence of widespread voter fraud in Michigan or elsewhere. President Joe Biden won the election in Michigan by 154,000 votes.

Cox appeared with Giuliani for an event during the time he was visiting Michigan. The former Trump lawyer tested positive for COVID-19 just days later.

Cox said that at the time, she called now-former Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake) to tell him of the fake electors’ plans. Shirkey allegedly agreed that it was a “very, very bad idea.”

“I think it was just, it was a hair-brained idea, and the more details I got, it became more hair-brained,” Cox said of the plan.

The slate of fake electors did ultimately sign a document falsely casting their votes for Trump as the victor in Michigan. They did not stay in the Capitol overnight, but met in the GOP building before attempting — and failing — to enter the state Capitol. Police would not let them in.

The actions are under investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice.

The official Electoral College met at the Capitol on Dec. 14, 2020, with electors casting all 16 votes for President Joe Biden. 

LANSING, MI – DECEMBER 14: Michigan elector Sharon Baseman is escorted by police to the entrance of the Michigan State Capitol on December 14, 2020 in Lansing, Michigan. Michigan electors will meet this afternoon to certify the electoral college vote. (Photo by Elaine Cromie/Getty Images)

Cox also claimed that Maddock wanted to bring a camera crew and her husband, state Rep. Matt Maddock (R-Milford), into the GOP headquarters while the fake elector “ceremony” took place. Cox said that idea was shot down, as she did not want the document to be construed as an attempt to overturn Michigan’s election votes.

Cox said she “assume[s] that [Meshawn Maddock] was part of some of these cockemamie plans.”

Former Michigan Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land was an elector, but also chose not to participate in the mid-December GOP meeting to sign a false certificate. Cox said she was “uncomfortable with the whole thing.” Land, who serves on the Wayne State University Board of Governors, was replaced as an elector.

Transcripts from interviews with Meshawn Maddock and embattled former House Speaker Lee Chatfield (R-Levering) have yet to be released by the panel.

In another recently released transcript, former Trump campaign lawyer and QAnon conspiracist Sidney Powell spoke to investigators about her failed “Kraken” lawsuit in Antrim County that attempted to prevent Biden from taking office.

Antrim County became the focus of Trump and his allies after a quickly corrected human error on election day in 2020 briefly showed Biden winning in the predominantly Republican county. Trump-aligned figures including Powell and former Michigan attorney general GOP nominee have also falsely boosted the mistake as supposed proof that there was a widespread effort to derail a second Trump term.

Powell and several other attorneys were sanctioned by a federal judge in August 2021 for their actions.

At the time, Powell’s initial attempts to investigate unfounded claims of fraud in Antrim involved “wasted trips and wasted money when things weren’t ready on the ground for people to do what they were supposed to do,” she said in May.

Giuliani then flew to Antrim County to request access to voting machines, Powell claimed, although the Washington Post reported that his request was made over the phone.

“I didn’t trust Mr. Giuliani’s plan to get access to the machines,” Powell said.

RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel at President Donald Trump’s Battle Creek rally, Dec. 18, 2019 | Andrew Roth

As for Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel, her testimony to investigators in June revealed that Cox reached out to her over concerns about the fake electors potentially meeting in the Capitol and casting false electoral votes.

“Laura [Cox] raised some concerns with me … I said — you know, I don’t think you should do that. Just have them gather and whatever you feel comfortable with,” McDaniel said.

McDaniel said she called Trump personally on Jan. 1, 2021, to wish him a happy New Year. She said that the two did not discuss the then-upcoming joint session of Congress that was set to take place on Jan. 6, 2021, to certify the election for Biden.

She did say, however, that Trump asked her “what [her] relationship was with the vice president” during the call. At the time, Trump was engaged in an effort to convince Pence to illegally affect the outcome of the election.

“[Trump] could’ve” made any reference to this effort, McDaniel said, but she does not recall much more.

“I remember him asking me how well I knew him and that was the extent of pretty much that conversation that I recall,” she said.

“ … He very much believes that the Vice President had the authority to not accept the electors and he has said that to me.”