The Trump campaign ordered a group of Georgian Republicans to meet in secret and obfuscate their goals in an email obtained by federal prosecutors as part of their recent investigation into Donald Trump’s efforts to nullify the election in several swing states.
The email is part of the Justice Department’s intensifying investigation focused on the Trump campaign’s interactions with so-called alternate Republican voters in the states Trump lost and whether a scheme to organize them could be charged with a crime.
Georgia’s email has not been released publicly so far. It was sent by Robert Sinners, Trump’s Election Day operations chief in Georgia on Dec. 13, 2020, 6 p.m. before the group of alternate voters were to meet at the Georgia State Capitol, according to multiple sources familiar with him. .
“I must ask for your complete discretion in this process,” Sinners wrote. “Your duties are imperative to securing the end result – a victory in Georgia for President Trump – but will be hindered unless we have absolute secrecy and discretion.”
The Fulton County, Georgia District Attorney’s Office, which appointed its own grand jury to investigate Trump’s attempts to nullify Georgia’s election results, and the United States House Select Committee on Jan. 6 also obtained copies of the email, according to sources familiar with it.
The email highlights the role of the Trump campaign in creating fake election documents to supplant Joe Biden’s victory in Georgia. CNN previously reported that Trump campaign officials oversaw efforts to nominate illegitimate voters in seven swing states that Trump lost.
In the email, Sinners also told Trump voters to misdirect the security guards when they arrived at the state house and to tell the guards they were attending a meeting with two US senators. State, Brandon Beach and Burt Jones.
“Please at no time should you mention anything related to presidential voters or speak to the media,” Sinners wrote.
The Washington Post also reported on the email on Monday.
A source close to the campaign said secrecy was necessary due to restricted access to the statehouse during the coronavirus pandemic and post-election political uproar. The need to meet at the statehouse was paramount to making the list of fake voters potentially viable under the law, should Biden’s victory be stymied, the source said.
The Trump campaign and the Georgia GOP did not respond to requests for comment this week.
CNN senior legal analyst and former federal prosecutor Elie Honig noted that the email could be part of a conspiracy investigation, as it could show the scheme went beyond unnecessary chatter and involved rather than the campaign gives specific guidelines to voters. He also noted the importance of asking voters to conceal their actions.
“A prosecutor would argue before a jury, ‘Why the secrecy? What were they hiding?'” Honig said.
THE FEDERAL PROBE IS GROWING SERIOUSLY
In recent weeks, the federal criminal investigation into voters in Georgia and at least one other state has gained momentum.
A federal grand jury subpoenaed documents and the FBI interviewed witnesses about Trump voters and campaigns last month, seeking details about the signing and mailing of official election documents and the planning that brought the voters together. lists. Subpoenas have asked witnesses to communicate with Trump voters, as well as key Trump campaign officials.
The subpoenas represent a flurry of investigative activity in recent weeks by the Justice Department to move the sprawling investigation, the largest in Justice Department history, beyond the rioters who ransacked the Capitol on January 6, and to examine the role of people who worked in the political organization around Trump.
The escalation in the investigation comes as Justice Department officials monitor the timetable, with the midterm elections less than six months away. Senior justice officials are aware that later this summer overt investigative activities, such as issuing subpoenas, could be suspended, people familiar with the internal discussions said. Ministry guidelines traditionally instruct prosecutors to generally avoid interfering with an impending election.
THE MEETING WAS NOT FINALLY SECRET
It’s unclear whether the people who received Sinners’ instructions even read the message or followed his pleas for secrecy, a person familiar with it told CNN.
The email was sent hours after the Trump campaign and GOP state officials discussed how difficult it is for GOP voters to access some state legislatures. In Wisconsin — another state where Trump proposed fake voters after his defeat — voters also met in secret, CNN previously reported. A Trump voter in Wisconsin said the secrecy was for security reasons, though the Wisconsin Republican Party disputed that those voters met in secret.
Sinners told CNN this week that as of the end of 2020, he was working under Trump campaign attorneys and Georgia GOP Chairman David Shafer, who was a voter. “I have been advised by attorneys that this was necessary in order to preserve the longevity of the ongoing legal challenge,” Sinners said.
“Following the former president’s refusal to accept the election results and allow a peaceful transition of power, my perspective on this issue has changed significantly from what it was on December 13,” Sinners added. He now works in the office of Georgian Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who resisted pressure from Trump after the election.
Shafer’s attorney told CNN his client didn’t try to keep things a secret.
“None of these communications, or his testimony, suggest that Mr. Shafer requested or desired confidentiality surrounding the provisional voters,” attorney Robert Driscoll said. “On the contrary, President Shafer invited television cameras to participate in the proceedings and both released a statement and gave a television interview immediately afterwards.”
Beach and Jones, whom voters were to say they were meeting, also did not respond to requests for comment. None of the state officials were supposed to be surrogate voters, but Jones stepped in as such when one of Trump’s voters on the day of the meeting dropped out, according to Trump voter handouts released by the federal government.
The assembly of electors did not finally take place under such a shroud of secrecy. At least one local news outlet captured video of voters voting for Trump. Georgia Republican Party Chairman David Shafer was also interviewed on camera at the time, explaining that the group wanted to provide another list in case Trump was successful in one of his legal challenges.
He was not.
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