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Exclusive: Pro-Trump lawyer Kenneth Chesebro cooperating in multiple state probes into 2020 fake electors plot

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Internashonal

Exclusive: Pro-Trump lawyer Kenneth Chesebro cooperating in multiple state probes into 2020 fake electors plot


Alyssa Pointer/Getty Images

Kenneth Chesebro. (Photo by Alyssa Pointer/Getty Images)



CNN
 — 

The pro-Trump lawyer who helped devise the 2020 fake electors plot and already pleaded guilty to the conspiracy in Georgia is now cooperating with Michigan and Wisconsin state investigators in hopes of avoiding more criminal charges, multiple sources told CNN.

In a dramatic turnaround from 2020 – when the lawyer, Kenneth Chesebro, was at the center of efforts by former President Donald Trump to subvert the Electoral College and overturn his defeat – Chesebro is now helping investigators in at least four states who are looking into the scheme.

Chesebro’s cooperation in Wisconsin is the first indication the state attorney general’s office has launched its own investigation into the false slates of pro-Trump electors. Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul, a Democrat, has not publicly announced that an investigation is underway.

Chesebro also recently testified to a grand jury in Nevada, where indictments against six fake electors were announced Wednesday by state prosecutors. Additionally, Chesebro has been in contact with prosecutors in Arizona, where he plans to sit for an interview as part of that state’s ongoing investigation into fake electors.

CNN has previously identified Chesebro as an unindicted co-conspirator in special counsel Jack Smith’s federal indictment against Trump, where the former president is charged with organizing the fake electors scheme “to disenfranchise millions of voters” and unlawfully remain in power. There is no indication Chesebro is cooperating in the federal probe, or that Smith has ruled out charges against him.

The Trump campaign targeted seven states with the scheme in 2020. Charges have been filed against fake electors in Georgia, Michigan and Nevada. Investigations are underway in Arizona, New Mexico and now, apparently, Wisconsin. The seventh state in the plot was Pennsylvania.

The Michigan inquiry, led by state Attorney General Dana Nessel, a Democrat, was the first in the nation to produce criminal charges. It now appears that the scope of Nessel’s investigation may be broader than previously known, and is looking at other figures with ties to the scheme beyond the fake electors themselves.

The Michigan attorney general’s office confirmed to CNN in an email this week that their investigation is still active.

The Wisconsin attorney general’s office declined to comment, as did Chesebro’s lawyer.

Chesebro has entered into what’s known as proffer agreements in several states, which gives him some protection from prosecution, according to multiple sources. His cooperation with investigators in Michigan and Wisconsin has not been previously reported.

But cooperating with state prosecutors does not guarantee Chesebro will avoid criminal charges in one or all of the ongoing investigations, the sources cautioned.

Nessel’s ongoing investigation has already produced charges against the 16 fake electors in Michigan. One agreed to cooperate in exchange for his case being dropped. The rest pleaded not guilty, and there are key hearings this month in their bid to toss the case.

Sources told CNN that Nessel has scrutinized another pro-Trump lawyer, Ian Northon, who was in contact with top Trump allies after the 2020 election and accompanied the fake electors when they tried to enter the Michigan statehouse.

In charging documents against the Michigan fake electors, prosecutors highlighted how Northon tried to persuade a state trooper to let them into the Michigan State Capitol in Lansing – but they were rebuffed. This was a key part of the plan that Chesebro and others devised: Federal law and Michigan statutes require the electors to meet in the statehouse, and Chesebro hoped the pro-Trump slate would hew to the law as closely as possible.

An attorney for Northon did not comment for this story.

After the 2020 election, Northon participated in conference calls with then-Trump lawyers Rudy Giuliani and John Eastman where they discussed how to contest the results, according to Northon’s testimony to the House select committee that investigated the January 6, 2021, insurrection.

Northon also had a phone call with Sidney Powell, a right-wing attorney and conspiracy theorist who has pleaded guilty in the Georgia election subversion case. She asked him to join a lawsuit she was filing in Michigan about nullifying the election – he declined and filed a separate suit contesting the results. The meritless cases went nowhere.

According to his congressional testimony, Northon had no ties to Chesebro, except that a colleague forwarded to him one of Chesebro’s memos about the Electoral College after the 2020 election. Northon also said he learned from a pro-Trump state legislator that the fake electors would be meeting in Lansing.

“I was as disappointed, I think, as anybody to see what happened on January 6 at the Capitol,” Northon told the House committee in 2022. “My efforts in representing these private clients were to get people to follow the law, not to encourage people to break it.”



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