Fulton DA rejects claims of official role by Trump ‘fake electors’ in 2020 election case

Attorneys for State Sen. Shawn Still, Cathy Latham, and former Georgia Republican Party Chairman David Shafer argued Wednesday that their 2020 Donald Trump presidential election interference cases should be removed from Georgia state courts. (Jill Nolin/Georgia Recorder)

(GA Recorder) — Fulton County prosecutors describe a trio of Georgians who served on a false slate of Republican electors in the 2020 presidential election as being fantastical in their attempt to argue their felony election interference racketeering case should be moved to federal court.

On Tuesday, the Fulton County District Attorney’s office said the so-called fake electors engaged in a logical fallacy as attorneys for former Georgia Republican Party Chairman David Shafer, state Sen. Shawn Still and ex-Coffee County GOP chairwoman Cathy Latham argued their clients were acting as federal officers when casting electoral votes for Donald Trump on Dec. 14, 2020. The three co-defendants in the sweeping election interference conspiracy case that ensnared Trump and 18 of his allies are the latest defendants to arguing in U.S. District Court that they acted as federal officers and therefore should be exempt from state prosecution.

The attorneys for Shafer, Still and Latham said Wednesday that their clients never imagined they had acted inappropriately when they were told by an attorney representing the Republican party and Trump campaign that their votes would be helpful in case of a successful legal challenge that would overturn President Joe Biden’s election win.

Fulton special prosecutor Anna Cross characterized the defense’s arguments as being factually unsound and said the three were among 16 people who were “impersonating” Republican electors in 2020.

Cross said the electors had presented no case law supporting the idea “that you can file a procedurally and substantively deficient challenge and, suddenly, everything’s up in the air.” She said the Republicans did not become federal officers simply by claiming to be official presidential electors.

“They were fake electors,” Cross said. “They were impersonating electors. They were not electors at all.”

According to the defense attorneys, the trio was acting appropriately as federal officials while Trump lawsuits seeking to overturn the results were still pending. The Georgia false electors were taking the advice of high-level Republican Party and Trump lawyers who were claiming massive fraud cost Trump the presidency, their attorneys said Wednesday.

Trump lawsuits arguing the results should be overturned by Congress based on unproven claims of massive fraud remained pending on Dec. 14, 2020 at the GOP electoral meeting at the state Capitol.

“They never dreamed they had done something wrong,” said Still’s attorney Tom Beaver.

On Aug. 14, a Fulton grand jury indicted Trump, several lawyers and former federal officials, and other allies loyal to the former Republican president under Georgia’s RICO Act (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) on allegations of participating in a multi-state election interference conspiracy.

Shafer, Still and Latham’s reasoning for having their cases moved to a potentially friendlier federal jurisdiction differs substantially from two other co-defendants in the sprawling election conspiracy case who worked in the federal executive branch at the time of the alleged criminal conspiracy named in the Fulton indictment.

An attorney for Jeffrey Clark, a former Trump Justice Department official, argued before U.S. District Judge Steve Jones on Monday that he was lawfully carrying out his duties when he asked DOJ supervisors to sign off on a letter claiming the department had legitimate concerns about massive voting fraud.

And Trump’s ex-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows is appealing Jones’ ruling against moving his case to federal court.

Jones on Wednesday appeared to find the defense attorneys’ rationale for escaping state prosecution to rest on a whimsical legal theory that is based on the federal law protecting federal officers from prosecution when performing their job duties.

At the time the alternate GOP electoral votes were cast, Shafer was also representing Trump in unsuccessful legal challenges disputing Georgia’s 2020 election, which confirmed Biden’s victory over Trump through multiple audits and recounts. Latham also faces counts in the case for her role in allegedly allowing forensic experts to illegally gain access to the Coffee County voting systems in the weeks following the 2020 election.

Still served as an officer for the state GOP party during the 2020 general election and was elected to the state Senate in 2022. According to the state senator’s attorney, Still got caught up in the GOP electoral votes based on what he believed was sound legal advice and said that his actions are protected as free speech.

Shafer, the former Georgia Republican Party chairman and state legislator, is accused of being more involved in the planning for the 2020 electoral meeting that coincided around the time the Democratic Party’s 16 electorates confirmed Biden winning Georgia by fewer than 12,000 votes over Trump.

As part of the Fulton probe, Latham also faces felony charges over her alleged participation in breaching Coffee County’s voting system as fellow Trump supporters sought to prove that the electronic voting machines in several states were rigged.

Security video confirms that Latham was one of the Coffee County officials on hand the same day as computer experts, Trump supporters and an Atlanta bail bondsman visited the election office in Douglas to copy sensitive election files.

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