Watch CBS News

Rudy Giuliani pleads not guilty as Trump allies are arraigned in Arizona 2020 election case

Allies of former President Donald Trump were arraigned Tuesday in Phoenix on charges that include conspiracy, fraud and forgery that are related to an alleged scheme to put forward phony electors in the 2020 election who backed Trump despite President Biden winning the state. 

Rudy Giuliani pleaded not guilty to nine federal charges in the case in a virtual appearance. The former New York City mayor and Trump attorney was served Friday night while leaving his 80th birthday party.

Other defendants include former Arizona Republican Party chair Kelli Ward, former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, attorneys Jenna Ellis and Christina Bobb, former Turning Point USA youth director Tyler Bowyer and Arizona Republican state election officials. 

Trump, who is currently being tried in an unrelated case in a New York criminal court on 34 felony counts of falsifying business records, is not among the defendants, but he is repeatedly referenced in the indictment as an "unindicted co-conspirator." He has pleaded not guilty in the New York case.

The Arizona indictment alleges the defendants "knowingly falsified, concealed or covered up by a material fact or any trick, scheme or device or made or used any false writing or document knowing such writing or document contained any false, fictitious or fraudulent statement or entry, to wit: two certificates of votes for President Donald J. Trump and Vice President Michael Pence, filed by the Arizona Republican electors with the Arizona Secretary of State." 

A spokesperson for Giuliani insisted the charges are political. 

"These charges are essentially a cut and paste version of what they're attempting to use to interfere with the 2024 election and to take down President Trump and anyone willing to take on the permanent Washington political class," said Ted Goodman, a Giuliani spokesman. "Joe Biden and his allies continue to weaponize the criminal justice system in their quest to take down President Trump and hold on to power. Mayor Rudy Giuliani—the most effective federal prosecutor in U.S. history—looks forward to full vindication soon."

Arizona Fake Electors
Kelli Ward, chair of the Arizona Republican Party, holds a press conference at the Maricopa County Elections Department in Phoenix on Nov. 18, 2020.  Ross D. Franklin / AP

The charges center around the submission of a document to Congress declaring — falsely — that Trump had won the state. Mr. Biden won the state by over 10,000 votes. Ward is accused of organizing the effort, the indictment alleges, and wanted then-Vice President Mike Pence to accept the false submission as valid. 

According to the indictment, the electors met in Phoenix on Dec. 14, 2020, and signed that certificate claiming to be the "duly elected and qualified Electors for President and Vice President of the United States from the State of Arizona." The indictment alleges they also posted a video that day on social media saying, "We are the electors who represent the legal voters of Arizona! #Trump2020 #MAGA."

In announcing the indictments, Arizona's Democratic Attorney General Kris Mayes said "the scheme, had it succeeded, would have deprived Arizona's voters of their right to have their votes counted for their chosen president." 

Former Trump attorney John Eastman, who has been accused of devising the scheme to try to persuade Congress not to accept the election results, pleaded not guilty last Friday to fraud, conspiracy and forgery charges. 

Arizona is one of seven states that Trump lost in 2020 where his allies are accused of schemes to put up alternate electors for the joint session of Congress on Jan. 6, 2021, when lawmakers met to count the Electoral College votes. 

Trump allies have also been charged over similar alleged false elector schemes in Georgia, Michigan and Nevada. 

In addition to the New York criminal charges, Trump has been charged with dozens of other felonies in three other jurisdictions, including federal charges related to the Jan. 6, 2021, riot and charges in Fulton County, Georgia, related to alleged election interference there. He has pleaded not guilty and denies all wrongdoing. In addition to Trump, Giuliani, Meadows, Ellis, Eastman and Michael Roman, who are all charged in Arizona, are among the 19 defendants in Georgia.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.