Watch CBS News

Regretful Wisconsin fake elector says he was tricked into signing phony document claiming Trump won in 2020

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

This is an updated version of a story first published on Feb. 18, 2024. The original video can be viewed here

The month after the presidential election in 2020, Democratic and Republican electors representing the candidate who won the popular vote in their states gathered across the country to formally cast electoral votes for president. 

But in seven states that Joe Biden won, Republican electors got together anyway and cast phony votes for Donald Trump. They've become known as fake electors. And according to federal prosecutors, they were part of a plan to overturn the election, orchestrated by pro-Trump attorneys with Trump's support. State criminal charges have been filed against fake electors in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan and Nevada.

Wisconsin's fake electors haven't been charged, and as we first reported in February, one of them, Andrew Hitt, an attorney and former chairman of the state Republican Party, agreed to sit down with us to explain how he says he and Wisconsin's other GOP electors were tricked by the Trump campaign.

Anderson Cooper: You were head of the Republican Party in Wisconsin. Were you a big Trump supporter?

Andrew Hitt: I worked tirelessly for him. I, you know, day and night--

Andrew Hitt
Andrew Hitt 60 Minutes

ANDREW HITT: Let's put it together for the president of the United States one more time! 

Andrew Hitt: -- oftentimes phone calls would start by 6:00 in the morning, and wouldn't end until 10:30 at night. I did everything I possibly could.

DONALD TRUMP: The Wisconsin Republican Party Chairman Andrew Hitt.

Andrew Hitt was often singled out by President Trump at rallies in Wisconsin.

DONALD TRUMP: Andrew Hitt!

DONALD TRUMP: Andrew Hitt!

DONALD TRUMP: How we doing, Andrew? Gonna win this state? We gotta win it. 

But Trump didn't win in Wisconsin. He lost to Joe Biden by some 20,700 votes. The Trump campaign appealed, challenging more than 200,000 absentee ballots on technical grounds in two Democratic counties.

RUDY GIULIANI: If you count the lawful votes, Trump won Wisconsin by a good margin.

Andrew Hitt: That was false. What he said was false.

Anderson Cooper: The Trump campaign wanted the votes in Dane County and Milwaukee County tossed. Did you support that idea?

Andrew Hitt: - it wasn't something that I was comfortable with.

Anderson Cooper: Dane County and Milwaukee County in Wisconsin-- are the most liberal counties. The majority of the Black population in Wisconsin live in those two counties. 

Andrew Hitt: Correct. Correct.

Anderson Cooper: Personally, you did not believe all those absentee ballots should be thrown out?

Andrew Hitt: Well, I voted that way, you know. I voted that way. 

Anderson Cooper: You didn't think your own vote should be thrown out?

Andrew Hitt: No. 

On Nov. 30, Wisconsin's Democratic Gov. Tony Evers certified Joe Biden's victory — authorizing the state's Democratic electors to gather at the state capitol on Dec. 14 to cast their electoral votes for Biden.

But days earlier Andrew Hitt says he received a call from the Republican National Committee.

Anderson Cooper: What was the reach out to you?

Andrew Hitt: "Can we get a list of the Wisconsin Republican electors?"

Anderson Cooper: That made you suspicious?

Andrew Hitt: It did.

Andrew Hitt: I was already concerned that they were gonna try to say that the Democratic electors were not proper in Wisconsin because of fraud.

Anderson Cooper: You didn't believe there was any widespread fraud--

Andrew Hitt: No, and I was very involved, obviously, in the election.

Hitt was one of 10 republicans nominated to be an elector if Trump won in Wisconsin. On Dec. 4, he says, he was advised by the state GOP's outside legal counsel to gather the other Republican electors on Dec. 14 at the Capitol and as a contingency, sign a document claiming Trump won the state in case a court overturned the election in Wisconsin.

Anderson Cooper: In case the legal arguments that the Trump team is making actually win in court? 

Andrew Hitt: Right. And I remember asking, "How-- how can this be? That a court overturns the election and, just because we don't meet and fill out this paperwork on the 14th, that Trump would forfeit Wisconsin?" And the-- legal analysis back was, "The statute's very clear: The electors have to meet at noon at the Capitol in Wisconsin on December 14th."

Andrew Hitt and Anderson Cooper
Andrew Hitt and Anderson Cooper 60 Minutes

That morning the state Supreme Court — in a 4-3 ruling — rejected the Trump campaign's attempt to throw out more than 200,000 votes. But Andrew Hitt says he and the other Republican electors met anyway to cast fake votes because he'd been told the Trump campaign would appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. Kenneth Chesebro, a pro-Trump attorney — who was an alleged architect of the fake electors plan — showed up to watch.

Andrew Hitt: We got specific advice from our lawyers that these documents were meaningless unless a court said they had meaning.

Anderson Cooper: You are deciding to sign this document as an elector, and getting the other electors to sign this document based on a court challenge that you yourself don't believe has legitimacy.

Andrew Hitt: I wouldn't say it doesn't have legitimacy– that's different than not personally agreeing with it.

Anderson Cooper: You personally don't believe that legitimate votes by Wisconsin residents should be tossed out. And yet, you are signing a document in support of a lawsuit which is alleging just that. 

Andrew Hitt: And if I didn't do that, and the court did throw out those votes, it would have been solely my fault that Trump wouldn't have won Wisconsin. 

DONALD TRUMP: Ah, beautiful kids Andrew. Good. Good. I'm going to blame you Andrew if they don't do it.

Andrew Hitt: Can you imagine the repercussions on myself, my family, if it was me, Andrew Hitt, who prevented Donald Trump from winning Wisconsin. 

Anderson Cooper: You're saying you were scared? 

Andrew Hitt: Absolutely.

Anderson Cooper: Scared of Trump supporters in your state? 

Andrew Hitt: It was not a safe time. If my lawyer is right, and the whole reason Trump loses Wisconsin is because of me, I would be scared to death.

Anderson Cooper: Signing legal documents of such consequence that you don't believe in and you don't believe the underlying reason for the documents, it's-- I mean, it's not exactly a profile in courage.

Andrew Hitt: No.

Anderson Cooper: How do you feel about that now?

Andrew Hitt: I mean, terrible. If I knew what I knew now, I wouldn't have done it. It was kept from us that there was this alternate scheme, alternate motive.

That alleged alternate scheme is a prominent part of special counsel Jack Smith's indictment of the former president.

JACK SMITH: ...charging Donald J. Trump with conspiring to defraud the United States.

According to Smith, what began as a legal strategy in Wisconsin evolved into "a corrupt plan" involving six other states as well.

ARIZONA GOP ELECTORS: Donald J. Trump, of the state of Florida. Number of votes, 11.

Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, New Mexico, Pennsylvania and Michigan.

Michigan's 2020 legitimate Democratic electors want to set the record straight 04:58

MICHIGAN WOMAN: He said we can't enter.

POLICE: The electors are already here – they've been checked in.

Where some of the fake electors couldn't convince police to let them into the Capitol.

Jack Smith cites this Dec. 6 memo written by Ken Chesebro detailing ways "the Trump campaign can prevent Biden from amassing 270 electoral votes on January 6…" 

Smith alleges the multistate scheme was designed to "create a fake controversy" and "position the vice president… to supplant legitimate electors with [Trump's] fake electors and certify [him] as president."

By Jan. 4, according to internal emails, some in the Trump campaign were panicking. They believed the fake electors' documents from Michigan and Wisconsin hadn't arrived in Vice President Mike Pence's Senate office.

Anderson Cooper: Your colleague texted you, "Freakin' Trump idiots want someone to fly original elector papers to the Senate president." You wrote, "This is just nuts." What was nuts about it?

Andrew Hitt: I mean, we have the certification coming on the 6th. Um, how-- how do you not have the paperwork?

Anderson Cooper: I mean you've said that you only went along with this plan to preserve Trump's candidacy in the event of a court ruling. January 4th, just two days before January 6th, did you really think that was still possible?

Andrew Hitt: Well, remember, the Wisconsin Supreme Court had been appealed. And so January 4th, it seemed like, yeah, it's possible that a much more conservative United States Supreme Court could overturn a four-three decision.

To get the paperwork to Washington, they picked Alesha Guenther, then a 23-year-old law school student working part time for Wisconsin's Republican Party.

Alesha Guenther
Alesha Guenther 60 Minutes

Alesha Guenther: I was on break from law school, um-- and wanted to make some extra money (laugh) for-- to pay for books and worked for the party for my month off of school. So on January 4th, I got a call from the Executive Director of the Republican Party of Wisconsin, since I was helping out at the time–

Anderson Cooper: What did you think when you got the text?

Alesha Guenther: At first, I didn't know what it was. And then, he followed up and asked, you know, that the Trump campaign wanted these papers flown out to DC because they had gotten lost in the mail.

Guenther says she picked up the papers here at the state party headquarters, and on Jan. 5 flew to Washington.

ALESHA GUENTHER: So this is the email-

She showed us her email chain with Ken Chesebro and the Trump campaign's senior advisor, Mike Roman.

Alesha Guenther: -explaining that I should only give the documents to Ken Chesebro. So, um, and then, they asked me to meet up with him outside the Trump Hotel.

 Anderson Cooper: I mean, it sounds very secretive.

Alesha Guenther: Yeah, I thought that that email was pretty odd and dramatic-

Anderson Cooper: And you knew what was happening on January 6th?

Anderson Cooper: -in terms of the-- the certification of the vote.

Alesha Guenther: I don't know if I was very tuned into that. Truly because I thought that a court of law would have need to-- needed to overturn the election for those documents to be used. 

Anderson Cooper: Did you know what Chesebro looked like?

Alesha Guenther: So he had actually sent me a selfie.

Anderson Cooper: He-- he sent you a selfie--

Alesha Guenther: Yes.

Anderson Cooper: --so that you would know it was him- 

Alesha Guenther: Yeah. 

Anderson Cooper: Can I see it?

Alesha Guenther: Yeah.

She still has the photo saved on her phone.

Anderson Cooper: That's-- that's Ken Chesebro.

Alesha Guenther: Uh-huh (affirm).

Anderson Cooper: What did he say to you?

Alesha Guenther: He kind of took a dramatic step back, and looked at me, and said, "You might have just made history."

Ken Chesebro told investigators he delivered the Wisconsin documents to Capitol Hill. The next day, on Jan. 6, he can be seen in videos outside the capitol near conspiracy theorist Alex Jones. 

ADAM SCHIFF: I now want to look even more deeply at the fake electors scheme...

According to the January 6th Select Committee, an aide to Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson tried to arrange to get the fake electors slates to Vice President Pence.

DONALD TRUMP: And I hope Mike is gonna do the right thing, I hope so. I hope so. Because if Mike Pence does the right thing, we win the election.

But Pence's aide refused, texting "do not give that to him," according to the committee.

When the Senate chamber had to be evacuated, the real electoral votes in these boxes were taken to safety. and when Congress resumed, they were returned into the House chamber.

MIKE PENCE: Pursuant to Senate concurrent resolution...

Vice President Pence announced the election results and closed the session at 3:44 a.m. Jan. 7.

The Supreme Court ultimately declined to hear the Trump campaign's lawsuit in Wisconsin.

Anderson Cooper: What do you think about Donald Trump continuing to claim that the 2020 election was stolen?

Andrew Hitt: I mean, it wasn't stolen. It wasn't stolen in Wisconsin.

This past December, Andrew Hitt and Wisconsin's other Republican electors settled a civil lawsuit against them by some of the state's Democratic electors. They admitted they signed a document that was "used as part of an attempt to improperly overturn the 2020 presidential election results."

Hitt resigned as chairman of the Wisconsin Republican Party in August 2021.

He's cooperated with the January 6th committee.

ANDREW HITT, SOT: -using our electors in ways that we weren't told about, um, and we wouldn't have supported.

And, he says, he's also cooperated with federal prosecutors. He maintains he and the other fake electors in Wisconsin were tricked. 

Andrew Hitt: Whenever anybody sees our text messages, our emails, our documents, they understand, they know they- their conclusion is we were tricked.The January 6th Committee saw it. Jack Smith specifically in his indictment refers to some of the electors were tricked. That was us. 

Anderson Cooper: The former president is known to watch "60 Minutes." If he's watching, what would you want to say to him?

Andrew Hitt: I would say that this country needs to move forward. That we need a leader who is-- tackles serious problems and serious issues that this country faces. And we need faith in our institutions again. And the next president of the United States needs to do that.

Anderson Cooper: And in your opinion, that's not him.

Andrew Hitt: That is not him. Correct.

Produced by Sarah Koch. Associate producer, Madeleine Carlisle. Broadcast associate, Grace Conley. Edited by April Wilson.

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.