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3 Trump allies charged in Wisconsin for 2020 fake elector scheme

Trump fake elector in Wisconsin speaks out
Trump fake elector in Wisconsin describes how he says he was tricked | 60 Minutes 13:26

Washington — Three allies to former President Donald Trump were charged in Wisconsin on Tuesday in connection to an alleged scheme to send slates of fake electors to Congress after the 2020 presidential election and keep Trump in power for a second term.

Kenneth Chesebro, James Troupis and Michael Roman each face one felony count of forgery, according to court records. The three are set to make their initial appearances in Dane County Circuit Court on Sept. 19, court records show. The charge carries a sentence of up to six years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. 

"The criminal complaint in this case alleges that the defendants were part of a conspiracy to present a certificate of purported electoral votes from individuals who were not Wisconsin's duly appointed electors," Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul said in a statement. "The Wisconsin Department of Justice is committed to protecting the integrity of our electoral process."

The indictment

The indictment alleges that Chesebro sent a memo on Nov. 18, 2020, to Troupis and others that encouraged presidential and vice presidential electors representing Trump and then-Vice President Mike Pence to meet and cast their electoral votes on Dec. 14, 2020, when legitimate members of the Electoral College would meet to certify the results of their states' elections. 

Chesebro, an attorney, wrote and sent to Troupis another six-page memo in December 2020 that laid out a plan for organizing Trump's supporters to serve as fake electors after that year's presidential election in crucial swing states where he lost. He explained in the memo that the false elector votes would be counted by Pence during a joint session of Congress on Jan. 6, 2021, according to the indictment.

Kenneth Chesebro appears in court during a motions hearing on Oct. 10, 2023, in Atlanta, Georgia.
Kenneth Chesebro appears in court during a motions hearing on Oct. 10, 2023, in Atlanta, Georgia. Alyssa Pointer / AP

The indictment states that after receiving Chesebro's memo, Troupis said he planned to get it "circulated at the White House." He later told Chesebro that he sent it to "the real decisionmakers" at the White House, court records show. The indictment goes on to lay out additional communications between the three co-defendants, including about the false elector certificates that were to be signed on Dec. 14 by the Trump electors from Wisconsin.

An email Chesebro sent to Trump campaign officials, Roman and the Republican National Committee on Dec. 11 identified Troupis as "the one who floated early on the idea of the electors voting on Dec. 14," according to the indictment.

Ten electors for Trump and Pence, as well as Chesebro, met at the Wisconsin State Capitol on Dec. 14 and cast their Electoral College votes for the two Republicans, according to the court filing. Chesebro sent Troupis and Roman separate, identical messages stating, "WI meeting of the *real* electors is a go!!!" prosecutors said, as well as a photograph of the meeting.

The alleged efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election to keep Trump in office have led to indictments in several battleground states, including Arizona, Michigan, Nevada and Georgia. Trump is facing 10 charges in an election-related case brought by prosecutors in Fulton County, Georgia, as well as federal charges in Washington, D.C., stemming from the alleged efforts to subvert the transfer of presidential power. He has pleaded not guilty to all counts.

Cheseboro, too, was charged in the sprawling racketeering case in Georgia. He pleaded guilty in October to one count of conspiracy to commit filing false documents. Prosecutors said he devised the strategy to appoint alternate electors in several states, which was part of the broader plot to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

Roman, a longtime GOP operative, served as director of Election Day operations for Trump's 2020 campaign and was also charged in Fulton County. He faces seven counts there related to the fake elector scheme and has pleaded not guilty. Roman also was indicted in Arizona on charges stemming from the alleged attempt to keep Trump in office for a second term.

Troupis briefly served as a circuit court judge in Wisconsin and represented Trump in the state during the last presidential election.

Attorneys for the three men could not immediately be reached for comment.

In response to reports of the charges, Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers, a Democrat, said, "Good."

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