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Report: Matthew DePerno met with Trump official before Jan. 6 Capitol riots

Matthew DePerno
DePerno was recently endorsed by Michigan GOP delegates for the Republican ticket in the state’s upcoming Attorney General race. (Bridge photo by Jonathan Oosting)

LANSING — Matthew DePerno, the top Republican candidate for Michigan attorney general, and a far-right podcaster met with a State Department official in Washington D.C. on Jan. 6, 2021, as former President Donald Trump rallied supporters and considered last-minute maneuvers to overturn his election loss.

DePerno and Colorado podcaster Joe Oltmann met with assistant secretary of state Robert A. Destro “around the time” protesters swarmed the U.S. Capitol and attempted to stop congressional certification of President Joe Biden’s election, the Washington Post reported Monday.

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DePerno, whose failed lawsuit over Antrim County election results helped Trump loyalists access Dominion voting machines, has alluded to the Jan. 6 meeting before.

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In response to a candidate questionnaire circulated by an “America First” conservative group, DePerno stated he was “briefing (then-Secretary of State) Mike Pompeo’s staff on how the election was stolen.”

“NOTE to reader: don’t tell the Feds!” he added in the form dated Dec. 1, 2021.

DePerno’s campaign did not immediately respond to additional questions from Bridge Michigan about the meeting or new report. 

DePerno was endorsed in April by Michigan Republicans as the party’s candidate of choice to take on incumbent Attorney General Dana Nessel, a  Democrat, in the November election. 

His campaign was strongly supported by Trump, who hosted a fundraiser at his Mar-A-Lago resort in Florida, spoke to Michigan GOP delegates on DePerno’s behalf and stumped for him and Secretary of State candidate Kristina Karamo at a Macomb County rally. 

In a statement posted to social media, Nessel said the new information about DePerno’s Jan. 6 activities “speaks volumes as to why Trump so heavily backs Matt DePerno’s candidacy for Michigan Attorney General.”

“MI voters have a clear choice this November: Vote for AG Dana Nessel to defend our democracy, or for Matt DePerno to destroy it,” she wrote. 

DePerno, a Portage attorney who rose to prominence among conservative circles after filing an unsuccessful lawsuit challenging 2020 election results in Antrim County, supports a full statewide forensic audit of that year’s election. Likewise, Oltmann has alleged massive election fraud that stole the election from Trump.

Following his endorsement by the state GOP, DePerno said would return Michigan to a Republican state, saying Nessel “is literally drunk with power.” 

In the America First questionnaire, DePerno wrote he “will not only prosecute all those involved and responsible for voter fraud, he will end government lock downs and mask mandates, and is committed to protecting the civil liberties of all Michigan residents, state's sovereign rights, and return us to our Founders' concept of a Constitutional Republic.”

Geoff Burgan, communications director for the Democratic Attorneys General Association, called the Jan. 6 meeting “another alarming acknowledgment that he tried to overturn the 2020 presidential election.”

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“Trump’s endorsement of DePerno is crystal clear: he wants DePerno to win in 2022 to help him rig the 2024 presidential election,” Burgan said. 

The news comes amid an ongoing investigation by the U.S. House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack.

The panel has already interviewed several Michigan Republicans and issued subpoenas to several others, including former state party chair Laura Cox, Republican National Committeewoman Kathy Burden and former 14th District GOP Chair Mayra Rodriguez. 

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