Trump fake elector probe into 2020 race expands with Michigan subpoenas
LANSING—A federal criminal probe into efforts to overturn the 2020 election expanded this week as authorities subpoenaed at least one fake Michigan elector whose signature appeared on a document falsely declaring former President Donald Trump the winner in the state.
Michele Lundgren of Detroit, one of 16 “alternative electors” from Michigan, confirmed she was visited Thursday by federal investigators, including an FBI agent from the Detroit field office and a technician who searched her phone and computer “to see if there was anything incriminating in there.”
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Lundgren, however, contends she has nothing to hide and told Bridge Michigan she actually enjoyed her time with the federal authorities, who ended the nearly two-hour meeting by reading her a subpoena that ordered her talk to them again in July.
“They couldn’t have sent three more wonderful people,” Lundgren said, noting she is aware of at least one other would-be Michigan delegate who was subpoenaed but was not as cooperative.
“They were not intimidating. They appreciated my talkativeness,” added Lundgren, a real estate agent currently running for the state House.
Several other Michigan Republicans whose signatures appeared on the false elector document did not return calls and text messages from Bridge, including Michigan GOP Co-Chair Meshawn Maddock. Shelby Township Clerk Stan Grot said he had not been subpoenaed as of mid-Thursday.
The expanded law enforcement probe comes two days after a congressional committee held a public hearing on a multi-state, fake elector scheme as part of its own investigation into events leading up to and on Jan. 6, 2020, when Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol to try to halt the certification of Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory.
Michigan law requires all of its presidential electors go to the winner of the statewide popular vote. That happened in a Dec. 14, 2020, ceremony at the Michigan Capitol, when 16 official electors voted to confirm Biden’s 154,188 vote win in the statewide contest.
Alternate electors organized by the Trump campaign were denied entry to the Michigan Capitol that day. They had considered hiding out in the building overnight so they would have access to the Senate chambers, as required, according to former Michigan GOP Chair Laura Cox, who later told congressional investigators she told a Trump campaign attorney the plan was “insane and inappropriate.”
The document signed by the alternate electors nonetheless claimed to be official and was mailed to the National Archivist in an envelope that bore the name of Kathy Berden, a Republican National Committeewoman described as chair of the “Michigan Republican Electoral College.”
Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson’s staff reportedly tried to transmit the Michigan document directly to Vice President Mike Pence, along with a similarly unofficial document from his own state, as Trump pressured Pence to delay the final Electoral College certification on Jan. 6.
Lundgren, however, insisted the document she signed in the basement of the Michigan GOP headquarters on Dec. 14, 2020, was a “blank sheet of paper” that gave no indication it would later be passed off as an elector document.
“We were not aware of signing anything other than our names,” Lundgren said, criticizing ongoing federal inquiries as attempts to “further thwart any attempt at President Trump making any inroads in running for office” again in the future.
Lundgren joined other would-be Republicans outside the Michigan Capitol during the state’s Electoral College vote but said she did not fully comprehend the situation or that “it was going to come back to bite me in the ass two years later."
"We just thought that we were doing something for President Trump," Lundgren told Bridge.
Another alternative elector, however, appeared well aware of what she was attempting.
In a Dec. 15, 2020, email obtained by Bridge Michigan, Mayra Rodriguez told 14th Congressional District activists that she and other “Republican electors met in Lansing and signed affidavits and ballots voting for our President” but were not allowed in the state Senate for the ceremony.
“All the proper protocols were followed,” she wrote a day later. “When we win the legal battle and Michigan's election is declared fraudulent and thus null and void, our representatives will have the Michigan Republican electors' votes in hand and ready to go.”
Rodriguez, who did not respond to Bridge inquiries Thursday, concluded her Dec. 2020 email by thanking Michigan GOP officials and “Sean Flynn,” an apparent reference to Shawn Flynn, an attorney who served as election day operations manager for the Trump campaign in Michigan.
Flynn, who splits his time between Virginia and Michigan, was subpoenaed by federal investigators Wednesday, according to the New York Times.
Michigan continues to feature prominently in public hearings held by the Congressional Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol, which is conducting its own non-criminal probe.
In earlier testimony, former U.S. Attorney General William Barr said that before resigning in mid-December of 2020, he told Trump that claims of widespread election fraud in Detroit were “bullshit.”
On Thursday, former U.S. Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue said that by late December 2020, Trump was “fixated” on a report that purported to prove massive voting machine errors in Antrim County, which was produced as part of a lawsuit filed by current GOP state attorney general candidate Matthew DePerno.
The report was deeply flawed and disproven by a hand recount of paper ballots, Donoghue said, recalling his message to Trump at the time: "That Mr. President, is an example of what people are telling you that is not true, and you cannot and should not be relying on.”
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