Law enforcement officials, members of Congress and the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol are digging deeper into the role that fake slates of electors played in efforts by former President Donald J. Trump to cling to power after he lost the 2020 election.
In recent days, the state attorneys general in Michigan and New Mexico have asked the Justice Department to investigate fake slates of electors that falsely claimed that Mr. Trump, not Joseph R. Biden Jr., had won their states. Representative Mark Pocan, Democrat of Wisconsin, wrote to Attorney General Merrick B. Garland on Friday demanding an investigation into the same issue in his state.
And this week, members of the House committee scrutinizing the Jan. 6 riot said that they, too, were examining the part that the bogus electoral slates played in Mr. Trump’s scheme to overturn the election.
“We want to look at the fraudulent activity that was contained in the preparation of these fake Electoral College certificates, and then we want to look to see to what extent this was part of a comprehensive plan to overthrow the 2020 election,” Representative Jamie Raskin, Democrat of Maryland and a member of the committee, told reporters on Capitol Hill.
“There’s no doubt that those people were engaged in a constitutional fraud on the public and on the democracy,” he added in a separate interview, referring to the bogus electors.
The false slates, put forth in seven contested swing states, appear to have been part of a strategy by Mr. Trump’s allies to disrupt the normal workings of the Electoral College. After election officials in those states sent official lists of electors who had voted for Mr. Biden to the Electoral College, the fake slates claimed that Mr. Trump had won….
If investigators determine that the fake slates were meant to improperly influence the election, those who created them could in theory be charged with falsifying voting documents, mail fraud or even a conspiracy to defraud the United States….
It is not clear who first proposed that Republican-led state legislatures in key states that Mr. Biden won could replace the electors chosen by the voters with a different slate. But John Eastman, a lawyer who would later present Mr. Trump with an elaborate plan for overturning the election, was one of the first to bring the idea up publicly when he addressed Georgia lawmakers by video on Dec. 3, 2020, and advised them to “adopt a slate of electors yourself.”
At the time, the notion was roundly ridiculed by legal scholars who dismissed it as a futile attempt to subvert the will of the voters.
But a review of the steps taken by Mr. Trump’s allies to push the plan suggests that the effort was widespread and that it caught on among influential players, including those in conservative law and media circles and with White House aides.