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Trump campaign lawyer testified in Nevada fake electors case to avoid prosecution, transcripts show

LAS VEGAS (AP) — The lawyer who helped orchestrate the Trump campaign’s fake elector scheme in 2020 was a target in a criminal investigation in Nevada, but his name was removed from the indictment in exchange for his cooperation with authorities, according to newly released transcripts of secret grand jury proceedings in Las Vegas.

The documents made public Sunday show that in late November, Kenneth Chesebro testified to a grand jury in Clark County, Nevada, about the plot that ultimately led to the indictments this month of six Nevada Republicans, who made a last-ditch attempt to keep then-President Donald Trump in power by sending a phony electoral certificate to the National Archives.

The fake electors — involved in the GOP at the state or county level — are charged in state court with offering a false instrument for filing and uttering a forged instrument.

Chesebro’s deal with state Democratic Attorney General Aaron Ford’s office, which investigated the case, comes on the heels of Chesebro’s plea agreement with prosecutors in Georgia, where he was charged alongside Trump and 17 others with participating in efforts to overturn Trump’s 2020 loss in Georgia.

Ford’s office declined to comment on the cooperation deal Monday.

Chesebro pleaded guilty in Georgia to one felony charge of conspiracy to commit filing false documents just as jury selection was getting underway in his trial. As part of the deal, prosecutors agreed to dismiss six other counts.

In the Nevada case, Chesebro told the grand jury that he sent the state GOP an “organized step-by-step explanation of what they would have to do” to sign certificates falsely stating that Trump, not President Joe Biden, had won their state.

Chesebro also admitted in his testimony that he viewed Nevada as “extremely problematic” to the fake elector plot that spanned seven battleground states — Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, New Mexico, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

“It requires the meeting of the electors to be overseen by the Secretary of State, who is only supposed to permit electoral votes for the winner of the popular vote in Nevada,” Chesebro said, reading a portion of one of his memos to the grand jury.

The transcripts show that the grand jury was seated in the case on Nov. 14, nearly three years after the six Nevada Republicans gathered in Carson City, Nevada, on Dec. 14, 2020, and signed the fake certificate. The grand jury convened two more times before handing up the indictment.

According to the transcripts, the grand jury also heard testimony from a National Archives employee, a U.S. Postal Service inspector, investigators on the case and Mark Wlaschin, the deputy secretary of state for elections in Nevada.

Wlaschin, who is deeply involved in Nevada’s electoral processes, described a “level of disbelief” when receiving the false slate of electors claiming Trump won Nevada. He said he reached out to the National Archives to let them know that the documents would likely be sent to them as well.

“It wasn’t legal size or a package or a box or anything like that,” he told the grand jury of the folder he received containing the documents. “Inside it it had a number of documents. It looked like bizarro documents, frankly.”

Wlaschin wrote a letter to Nevada GOP Chairman Michael McDonald, one of the indicted fake electors who communicated with Trump directly about the plot, upon receiving the false documents a day after the fake electors signed them.

“We are returning these documents as they do not meet the statutory requirement for filing with our office,” he wrote.

All six fake electors in Nevada pleaded not guilty Monday. Their trial is scheduled for March.

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Stern reported from Reno, Nevada. He is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues. Follow Stern on X, formerly Twitter: @gabestern326.

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