Charges filed against lawyers, aide who worked for Trump in 2020

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Forgery charges were filed in Wisconsin on Tuesday against two attorneys and an assistant who helped file paperwork falsely saying former President Donald Trump won the battleground state in 2020.

The state charges are the first in Wisconsin and follow separate charges in Arizona, Michigan, Nevada and Georgia related to the bogus voter scheme.

The charges in Wisconsin targeted Trump’s attorney in the state, Jim Troupis, 62, attorney Kenneth Chesebro, 62, who advised the campaign, and Mike Roman, 51, who was Trump’s director of Election Day operations. Roman allegedly handed over the fake Wisconsin voter papers to a Pennsylvania congressman’s staffer on January 6, 2021, to deliver them to then-Vice President Mike Pence.

All three are scheduled to appear in Dane County Circuit Court on September 19, according to court records. They each face one misdemeanor charge, which carries a penalty of up to six years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

Troupis and Chesebro did not return voicemail messages Tuesday. Roman’s attorney, Kurt Altman, said he only learned of the charges Tuesday morning and was reviewing them.

FILE – Attorney Kenneth Chesebro appears before Judge Scott MacAfee during a motion hearing on Oct. 10, 2023, in Atlanta. Chesebro has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge just as jury selection got underway in his trial on charges that he participated in efforts to overturn Donald Trump’s loss in the 2020 election in Georgia. Chesebro, along with the Republican ex-president and 17 others, were charged with violating the state’s anti-racketeering law. (Alyssa Pointer/pool photo via AP, file)

Attorney General Josh Kaul, a Democrat from Wisconsin, did not rule out additional charges, including against the 10 fake voters, and said the investigation was ongoing.

“Our approach is to follow the facts where they lead,” he said at a news conference.

Republican U.S. Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin called the allegations “outrageous.”

“Now the Democrats are weaponizing the Wisconsin judiciary,” Johnson wrote on X. “Apparently conservative lawyers advising clients are illegal under the tyranny of the Democrats. The Democrats are turning America into a banana republic.”

Democratic Gov. Tony Evers responded to news of the filed charges in one word: “Good.”

Electors are people appointed to represent voters in presidential elections. The winner of the popular vote in each state determines which party’s electors will be sent to the Electoral College, which meets in December after the election to determine the outcome.

The voter fraud efforts are at the center of a federal indictment filed against Trump in August, alleging he tried to overturn the results of the 2020 election. Federal prosecutors, who are investigating his conduct in connection with the Jan. 6, 2021 riot at the U.S. Capitol, have also said the scheme originated in Wisconsin. Trump also faces charges in Georgia and has denied wrongdoing.

Chesebro and Roman were among 18 people charged along with Trump in a sweeping racketeering indictment in Georgia in August. They are accused of participating in a vast scheme to illegally overturn the 2020 election in that state.

Chesebro pleaded guilty in October to one felony count of conspiracy to file false documents after reaching a deal with Georgia prosecutors. Roman has pleaded not guilty to racketeering and conspiracy charges related to a scheme to get Republican electors to gather and cast Electoral College votes for Trump even though Biden had won Georgia.

Roman also faces nine charges in Arizona for cheating voters there, including conspiracy, fraud and forgery.

The 10 Wisconsin electors, Chesebro and Troupis, Trump’s lawyer in Wisconsin, have all settled a civil lawsuit filed against them last year.
Documents released as part of those settlements showed that the strategy in Wisconsin replicated moves in six other swing states.

The complaint goes into detail and largely cites those documents, interviews and testimony given to Congress about how the bogus voter scheme came about.

The complaint describes how Chesebro emailed a memo to Troupis and others on November 18, 2020, arguing that electors representing Trump should meet on December 14, 2020 to preserve the Trump-Pence slate in case a court or legislature would determine them. to be the winners.

Chesebro argued in a subsequent memo that Trump voters could be counted by Congress if there were still legal challenges to his loss. Troupis sent both memos to the Trump White House, the complaint said.

On December 9, 2020, Chesebro emailed Troupis a memo with instructions for the December 14, 2020 election rallies. Two days later, Chesebro emailed Trump aide Roman details of the plan, the complaint said.

During or around the December 14, 2020 meeting, Chesebro sent a message to Troupis and Roman stating: “WI meeting of the ‘real’ voters is a fact!!!,” according to the complaint. Troupis responded with a “thumbs up” emoji, the complaint said.

The complaint also describes how the fake voter rolls were delivered to Chesebro from Wisconsin to Washington, DC, on January 5, 2021, by Alesha Guenther, a law student who worked part-time with the Republican Party of Wisconsin. Roman told Guenther to hand over the paperwork to Chesebro alone.

“5 minutes before I make the drop,” Guenther texted at one point, according to the complaint. “I feel like a drug dealer.”

After Chesebro got the documents, he emailed Roman to let him know he had them.

Roman then arranged for a congressional staffer to meet Chesebro and take the document. Chesebro sent Roman a message confirming this had happened, the complaint said.

Trump lost Wisconsin to Biden, a Democrat, by fewer than 21,000 votes. Trump carried Wisconsin by a similar margin in 2016.

Government and outside investigations have conclusively found that there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud that could have affected the 2020 election. But Trump has continued to spread falsehoods about the election, especially in Wisconsin.

Associated Press writer Kate Brumback in Atlanta contributed to this report.

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