Michigan Republican charged in false elector plot agrees to cooperation deal

A protester waves a Trump flag during rally at the Michigan Capitol on Oct. 12, 2021. (Jake May/The Flint Journal via AP, File)

By Associated Press

October 20, 2023

LANSING—A Michigan Republican accused of participating in a fake elector plot had all criminal charges dropped Thursday after he and the state Attorney General’s office reached a cooperation deal.

James Renner was one of 16 Republicans who acted as false electors for then-President Donald Trump in 2020, according to charges announced in July by Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel. President Joe Biden won Michigan by nearly 155,000 votes, a result confirmed by a GOP-led state Senate investigation in 2021.

All 16 defendants pleaded not guilty to eight criminal charges, including multiple counts of forgery, after investigators say the group met following the 2020 presidential election and signed a document falsely stating they were the state’s “duly elected and qualified electors.”

But on Thursday, the attorney general’s office announced during a court hearing in Ingham County that it would drop its case against Renner, 77, based on “an agreement between the parties.”

Renner’s lawyer, Clint Westbrook, said in court that he and his client welcomed the result. Westbrook did not immediately return a phone call seeking further comment on the agreement.

In a statement, the state Attorney General’s office said they dismissed the Renner case under a cooperation agreement. While the office did not elaborate further, cooperation agreements typically include talking to investigators and, if necessary, testifying against others.

The dropped charges come after Nessel, a Democrat, told a liberal group during a virtual event that the false electors had been “brainwashed” and believed Trump won in Michigan. A motion to dismiss charges against two defendants was thrown out by an Ingham County District Court judge earlier this month.

Michigan is one of seven battleground states where supporters of Trump signed certificates that falsely stated he won their states—not Biden. The fake certificates were ignored, but the attempt has been subject to investigations, including by the U.S. House committee that investigated the Jan. 6 insurrection at the US Capitol.

Former Trump attorney Sidney Powell pleaded guilty to reduced charges Thursday over efforts to overturn Trump’s loss in the 2020 election in Georgia. Powell was charged alongside Trump and 17 others with violating the state’s anti-racketeering law.



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