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Trump an 'unindicted co-conspirator' in Michigan electors case, investigator says

Former President Donald Trump is an ‘unindicted co-conspirator’ in the case against Michigan’s so-called fake electors (Evan El-Amin /
  • Former President Donald Trump, others named as ‘unindicted co-conspirators’ in Michigan false electors case
  • Investigator testimony concluded preliminary exams for first group of Republicans accused of working to overturn Michigan’s 2020 election
  • A judge will decide whether the matter moves to trial after concluding a second set of preliminary examinations

April 30: Michigan AG backtracks ‘co-conspirator’ claim in fake electors probe

LANSING — Former President Donald Trump and several associates are considered “unindicted co-conspirators” in the plot to overturn Michigan’s 2020 presidential election, a state investigator testified in court Wednesday.


The testimony from Howard Shock, an investigator with the Michigan Department of Attorney General, came on the sixth and final day of a preliminary exam for some of the so-called fake electors accused of forging documents to suggest Trump won Michigan despite his 154,188-vote loss to President Joe Biden.

Other unindicted co-conspirators in the case include former Trump Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, attorneys Rudy Giuliani and Jenna Ellis and several Michigan Republicans, Shock said in testimony.

Howard Shock, an investigator with the Michigan Department of Attorney General, testified Wednesday there are several unindicted co-conspirators involved with the Michigan false electors case including former President Donald Trump and ex-New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. (Bridge photo by Jordyn Hermani)

The investigator did not explain why the state considered them unindicted co-conspirators. But it means Attorney General Dana Nessel’s office believes that they participated in the fake electors scheme to benefit Trump.  

There are a number of reasons prosecutors could choose not to charge an unindicted co-conspirator, including if their alleged role is “minimal and prosecution is not worth the … expenditure of scarce resources or deserving of punishment,” Barb McQuade, former U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, told Bridge Michigan

“It is certainly possible that an unindicted co-conspirator could be charged later up until the statute of limitations runs” out, she said, adding that it’s “highly unusual” to charge a former president, “though not unprecedented.”

Trump is already facing federal charges for his alleged role in the plot to overturn his 2020 election loss. He was previously an unindicted co-conspirator in a case against his former attorney, Michael Cohen. 

Trump, Meadows, Ellis and Giuliani were previously indicted in a Georgia election interference case. The latter three were also indicted Wednesday in Arizona's false electors case

Shock’s disclosure in the Michigan case came during cross-examination by Attorney Duane Silverthorne, who is representing defendant Michele Lundren. Silverthorne read aloud a list of names and asked Shock if they were unindicted co-conspirators.

Shock said “yes” for Trump, Giuliani, Ellis and Meadows, along with Chris Valasco, who worked on Trump’s 2020 reelection campaign in Michigan, and several former Michigan GOP officials.

54-A District Court Judge Kristen Simmons listens to arguments in the ongoing preliminary examination of Michigan’s so-called fake electors from her courtroom in downtown Lansing. (Bridge photo by Jordyn Hermani)

That included former Michigan Republican Party Chair Laura Cox, former Michigan GOP legal counsel Stu Sandler, former Michigan Republican Attorney General candidate Tom Leonard and his wife Janell Leonard, who owns the Marketing Resource Group firm in Lansing. 

Cox, the former Michigan GOP chair, said in February testimony that she opposed a plan for elector nominees to camp out in the state Capitol the night before the Electoral College vote. But she invited them to the Michigan GOP headquarters, where they allegedly signed the election document without her, for an honorary ceremony.

Cox responded to Tuesday’s testimony in a brief text message to Bridge: “Howard Shock has not been indicted for stupidity, but he should be,” she said, referring to the state investigator. 

Sandler, in a separate message, called Shock’s testimony outrageous.

“I stand by the sound legal advice I gave, and these partisan lawfare prosecutions have to stop,” he said of the case led by prosecutors under Nessel, a second-term Democrat. “Why in five years of Dana Nessel are only Republicans the continuing targets of these partisan lawfare prosecutions?"

Leonard, the former House speaker, in a statement criticized Shock's comments as "false and derogatory."

"I would expect the Attorney General to move swiftly, as ethically required, to correct the testimony whether intentionally misleading or mistaken," he said.

Former Michigan Republican Party Co-Chair Meshawn Maddock, who is a defendant in the case, turned to journalists after Shock described Trump as a co-conspirator and scoffed: “You think they’re going to be indicted in this? … They don’t have anything.”

It was Shock’s third day of testimony in Ingham County’s 54-A District Court, where prosecutors on Tuesday concluded presenting their evidence in the preliminary exam for six of the 15 Republicans charged in the case. 

Judge Kristen Simmons, who will decide whether the case moves to trial, did not issue a ruling on Wednesday. She stated that she will not do so until after concluding preliminary exams for the other defendants

That hearing is scheduled to resume May 28.

The accused face forgery-related charges punishable by up to 14 years in prison and election law charges punishable by up to five years in prison.

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