U.S. House’s Jan. 6 panel subpoenas ex-Michigan GOP Chair Laura Cox
LANSING — A congressional panel investigating attempts to overthrow the 2020 presidential election is demanding information from former Michigan Republican Party Chair Laura Cox.
The U.S. House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack on Tuesday subpoenaed Cox and five other individuals for information on failed efforts to appoint false "alternate electors" loyal to former President Donald Trump.
In a letter to Cox, Committee Chair Bennie Thompson, D-Mississippi, referenced her participation in a Dec. 2, 2020, virtual event with Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani, who pressured state lawmakers to overturn the election by saying that certifying the results would be a "criminal act."
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"We would like to better understand these and other statements and events that you witnessed or in which you participated, and communications we believe you may have had with national, state, and local officials about results of the November 2020 election," Thompson wrote, requesting a deposition and documents.
Cox blasted the subpoena Tuesday night in a lengthy statement, saying she attempted to cooperate with the committee but hired an attorney to try and protect personal conversations on her cell phone. She noted that Giuliani's comments had been broadcast on Facebook Live so were already “in the public realm.”
Announcing the subpoena by Twitter and press release "reeks of partisanship and PR stunts," Cox wrote.
"If the Committee is truly interested in the facts, does it need to do press releases where the witnesses are cooperative? Real investigations don't operate that way."
The congressional committee includes two GOP lawmakers, but both were censured last week by the Republican National Committee for participating.
The panel has also subpoenaed two other Michigan officials: Republican National Committeewoman Kathy Berden and former 14th District GOP Chair Mayra Rodriguez.
Berden and Rodriguez were listed as chair and co-chair on an unofficial elector document filed with the National Archivist in January 2021.
Current Michigan Republican Party Co-Chair Meshawn Maddock also signed the phony document and said last month that the Trump campaign had "asked us to do that."
State Attorney General Dana Nessel has said the fake electors likely violated laws in Michigan, where Democratic President Joe Biden defeated Trump by 154,188 votes. A GOP-led Senate panel investigated the election and found no evidence of widespread fraud.
Nessel, a Democrat, has not pursued charges against the alternate electors but instead referred the matter to federal authorities.
Berden and Rodriguez have not responded to requests for comment. The Michigan Republican Party has also so far declined to weigh in.
Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel, who preceded Cox as chair of the Michigan state party and is close to Berden, has criticized the congressional investigation.
"The January 6 Committee predictably has now vastly exceeded its original purpose and morphed into something else entirely, investigating Republicans who had nothing to do with January 6 for the apparent offense of being Republican," McDaniel wrote in a recent op-ed.
"Under the Committee’s approach, almost anything related to the 2020 election is within the scope of its jurisdiction, to include harassing citizens who were not even in Washington, DC that day."
In her Tuesday night statement, Cox defended her decision to question "irregular election procedures" in the 2020 election as head of the Michigan GOP. She pointed out that Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist, a Democrat, also questioned procedures when he lost his Detroit City Clerk campaign in 2017.
"My guy lost. President Biden won. But that does not make raising questions about irregularities a crime," Cox wrote. "The January 6th Committee knows I don't know anything about what happened on January 6th."
Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, a Democrat, has cooperated with the congressional committee and last month wrote members a letter detailing "concerning attempts to overturn the will of the voters in Michigan."
Among other things, Benson noted reports that a draft presidential order prepared for Trump but never signed relied on misinformation about Antrim County voting machines to justify seizing tabulators in battleground states to search for possible fraud.
Internal documents first reported by The Detroit News show Benson's office has also shared additional information with the committee, including requests for GOP challengers to flood the TCF Center in Detroit as election workers counted absentee ballots in the hours after polls closed. (The TCF Center has since been renamed Huntington Place.)
In early December, Benson's chief legal counsel sent the committee a Nov. 4, 2020, email from the North Oakland Republican Club directing activists to go to Detroit and ensure "criminals" do not "steal our country."
Legal memos revealed by The New York Times and The Washington Post indicate the Trump campaign was attempting to install its own slate of alternate electors in battleground states while attorneys worked to overturn Biden's election win in court, efforts that ultimately failed.
Michigan law requires electors to meet in the state Senate chambers to cast their official votes, but the alternate Trump electors were denied entry to the state Capitol during the Electoral College vote on Dec. 14.
Trump campaign attorneys had feared that might happen.
"Michigan is much more specific" than Wisconsin or Arizona "about the location in which electors must meet, which could be a bit awkward," attorney James Troupis wrote in a Dec. 9, 2020, memo outlining the plan that would later fail.
Congress ultimately accepted the final Electoral College vote on Jan. 6, 2021, hours after Trump supporters had breached the building in an attempt to stop their work. Biden was sworn in two weeks later.
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