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January 6 committee subpoenas 14 individuals who acted as "alternate electors"

The House select committee investigating the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol announced Friday it had issued subpoenas to 14 individuals who participated as "alternate electors" in an apparent scheme to contest and ultimately overturn President Biden's victory in the 2020 election.

The committee is demanding testimony and documents from individuals who met and later submitted illegitimate Electoral College certificates in seven states: Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, New Mexico, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Their deadlines to appear are mid to late February.

"The Select Committee is seeking information about attempts in multiple states to overturn the results of the 2020 election, including the planning and coordination of efforts to send false slates of electors to the National Archives," the committee's chairman Bennie Thompson said in a statement. "We believe the individuals we have subpoenaed today have information about how these so-called alternate electors met and who was behind that scheme."

A press release from the committee said it had "obtained information" that groups of individuals met on December 14, 2020, in seven battleground states carried by President Biden in the November election. These fake electors then allegedly submitted bogus slates of Electoral College certificates, claiming former President Donald Trump had won those states, to Congress.

Congressman Bennie Thompson on "Face the Nation" on October 24, 2021. CBS News

The existence of the alternate elector votes was used as a justification to delay or block the certification of the election, Thompson said in letters to the individuals being subpoenaed. CNN reported that Rudy Giuliani spearheaded the push. 

Former Trump campaign adviser Boris Epshteyn told MSNBC last week that he was part of this effort to put up "alternate electors." 

"Yes, I was part of the process to make sure there were alternate electors for when, as we hoped, the challenges to the seated electors would be heard, and would be successful," Epshteyn told MSNBC after insisting that the electors were indeed "alternate" and not "fraudulent electors."

The effort ultimately failed, with Congress and Vice President Mike Pence certifying Biden's victory on January 6.

The 14 individuals who were subpoenaed by the committee were either listed as a chairperson or a secretary of a group of alternate electors:

  • Nancy Cottle, Chairperson, Arizona
  • Loraine B. Pellegrino, Secretary, Arizona
  • David Shafer, Chairperson, Georgia
  • Shawn Still, Secretary, Georgia
  • Kathy Berden, Chairperson, Michigan
  • Mayra Rodriguez, Secretary, Michigan
  • Jewll Powdrell, Chairperson, New Mexico
  • Deborah W. Maestas, Secretary, New Mexico
  • Michael J. McDonald, Chairperson, Nevada
  • James DeGraffenreid, Secretary, Nevada
  • Bill Bachenberg, Chairperson, Pennsylvania
  • Lisa Patton, Secretary, Pennsylvania
  • Andrew Hitt, Chairperson, Wisconsin
  • Kelly Ruh, Secretary, Wisconsin

The announcement of the subpoenas came shortly after Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco, the no. 2 at the Justice Department, told CNN federal prosecutors were "looking at" the fake Electoral College certifications. An official with knowledge of the situation separately confirmed to CBS News the agency was reviewing the matter. 

The committee has issued dozens of subpoenas, including Trump's allies, former White House officials, campaign aides and individuals involved in the planning of the rally outside the White House before the Capitol building came under siege. Two top Trump allies, Steve Bannon and former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, have been held in contempt of Congress for refusing to comply with subpoenas, and the Justice Department has charged Bannon. Both said they are following instructions from Trump, who has claimed executive privilege.  

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi created the House select committee earlier this year to investigate the January 6 attack, when thousands of Trump supporters descended on the Capitol as Congress counted the electoral votes, a largely ceremonial final step affirming President Biden's victory. Lawmakers were sent fleeing amid the riot, which led to the deaths of five people and the arrests of hundreds more. Mr. Trump, who encouraged his supporters to "walk over" to the Capitol during the Stop the Steal rally, was impeached by the House one week later for inciting the riot but was later acquitted by the Senate. The panel has interviewed 400 witnesses and has obtained over 50,000 documents, according to Represenative Jamie Raskin, who sits on the committee. 

Zak Hudak contributed to this report. 

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