Two fake GOP electors in Michigan asked a judge this week to dismiss their charges, arguing that state Attorney General Dana Nessel conceded that they didn’t have criminal intent when she said they were “brainwashed” after the 2020 election.
Attorneys for fake electors Mari-Ann Henry and Clifford Frost on Monday separately filed motions to drop the case, citing the comments Nessel made last week to a liberal advocacy group. CNN obtained a recording of her appearance, where she said the GOP electors were “brainwashed” and “genuinely believe” former President Donald Trump won in 2020.
“Convictions would require proof that (Henry) intended by her actions to defraud,” Henry’s attorney wrote, adding that Nessel’s prosecutors “now claim that (Henry) believed Donald Trump won the election. If she had that belief, (Henry’s) alleged actions could not have been performed with the intent to cheat or deceive anyone.”
Frost’s lawyer similarly argued in his motion to dismiss, “Given that the AG stated that she knows (Frost) and the other fifteen Republican electors ‘think that Donald Trump is the real winner of the election’ and that ‘they legit believe that,’ then (Frost) did not possess the specific criminal intent to cheat nor deceive as required by the statues.”
Both Henry and Frost – and the other 14 fake electors facing charges – have pleaded not guilty. Each defendant was individually charged with eight state-level felonies.
Nessel did not respond to CNN’s inquiries seeking comment about her remarks.
Outside legal experts predicted that Nessel’s remarks would provide some fodder to the defendants – and may have even undermined her first-of-its-kind prosecution. Nessel, a Democrat, was the first prosecutor in the US to charge any of the fake GOP electors.
At the same event last week, Nessel also touted the fact that she filed the charges in Ingham County, which she called a “very, very Democratic-leaning county.” Frost’s lawyer wrote that Nessel’s comment about the potential jury pool was “very problematic.”
More hearings in the case are scheduled for next month in Lansing.
Separately, three of the fake electors in Georgia were charged in that state’s sprawling elections subversion case and pleaded not guilty. The Justice Department separately indicted Trump in connection with the 2020 election, and accused him of directing the seven-state plot, though none of the GOP electors are facing federal charges.