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Jan. 6 committee issues subpoenas to Trump's 'alternate electors,' former spokesman

NBC News logo NBC News 1/28/2022 Dareh Gregorian and Ali Vitali
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The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol issued subpoenas Friday to 14 of the so-called alternate electors who falsely claimed that then-President Donald Trump had won the election in their states, in addition to subpoenaing a former White House spokesman.

The panel said it wants to ask Judd Deere, who was deputy White House press secretary, about any firsthand knowledge of Trump's activities before and during the the attack on the Capitol, a source familiar with the subpoena confirmed to NBC News.

Deere's subpoena, which was first reported by CNN, indicated the committee also wanted to ask him about a Jan. 5 staff meeting in the Oval Office where Trump "repeatedly" asked attendees: "What are your ideas for getting the RINOs to do the right thing tomorrow? How do we convince Congress?”

RINOs is a reference to the disparaging term "Republicans in name only," and the Congress question is an apparent reference to Trump's efforts to stop President Joe Biden's election victory from being certified.

Deere did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The panel on Friday also sought to find out more information about a plan to overturn the election results, subpoenaing the people listed as chairperson and secretary for the bogus slates of electors from Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, New Mexico, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

"The Select Committee is seeking information about attempts in multiple states to overturn the results of the 2020 election, including the planning and coordination of efforts to send false slates of electors to the National Archives," the committee's chairman, Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., said in a statement. "We believe the individuals we have subpoenaed today have information about how these so-called alternate electors met and who was behind that scheme."

In a letter to one of the "alternate electors," Thompson noted, "The existence of these purported alternate-elector votes was used as a justification to delay or block the certification of the election during the Joint Session of Congress on January 6, 2021."


Video: Jan. 6 committee subpoenas 'alternate electors' from seven states (MSNBC)

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The phony electors met on the same day the real electors cast their Electoral College votes.

While Electoral College votes are typically ceremonial events that formalize the results of a presidential election, the Dec. 14, 2020, vote came as Trump refused to accept the results of the election and urged legislatures in battleground states that Biden won to disqualify Biden's electors.

The National Archives, which is responsible by law for receiving all of the certified results from states and then passing them on to Congress to be counted on Jan. 6, received alternative slates from Republicans in several states. But since the federal Electoral Count Act prohibits the archives from forwarding anything other than the slates certified by the states, the agency did not transmit them.

The committee has previously alleged that Trump's re-election campaign urged state and GOP officials to press state election officials to "delay or deny certification of electoral votes" citing the alternate electors.

Trump adviser Stephen Miller touted the plan in an appearance on Fox News on the day the Electoral College voted.

"We're going to send those results up to Congress. This will ensure that all of our legal remedies remain open. That means that if we win these cases in the courts that we can direct that the alternate slate of electors be certified," Miller said.

One of Trump's legal advisers, John Eastman, later wrote a memo arguing that Vice President Mike Pence could use the existence of the alternate electors to name Trump the winner of the election on Jan. 6.

"At the end, he announces that because of the ongoing disputes in the 7 States, there are no electors that can be deemed validly appointed in those States. … There are at this point 232 votes for Trump, 222 votes for Biden. Pence then gavels President Trump as re-elected," Eastman wrote.

Pence rejected the idea.

The committee apparently already has some information on the origins of the plan. Thompson last month said among the records handed over by Trump's former chief of staff Mark Meadows was “a text message exchange with a member of Congress apparently about appointing alternate electors in certain states as part of a plan that the member acknowledged would be ‘highly controversial’ and to which Mr. Meadows apparently said, ‘I love it.’”

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