Eight Republican activists who falsely claimed to be legitimate presidential electors for Donald Trump have accepted immunity deals from the Atlanta-area district attorney investigating Trump’s bid to subvert the 2020 election.
Kimberly Debrow, a lawyer for the false electors, revealed the arrangement — reached last month — in a court filing Friday, opposing a bid by District Attorney Fani Willis to disqualify her from representing the large group.
It’s the latest indication of Willis’ advancing investigation, which she recently revealed could result in charges — possibly against Trump himself and a slew of high-profile allies — as soon as July.
Trump and his inner circle orchestrated a plan for GOP electors in seven states he lost to sign documents claiming to be legitimate presidential electors. Those false electors became a component in a desperate last-ditch bid by Trump to overturn the election on Jan. 6, 2021. Citing the certificates signed by the false electors, Trump and a cadre of fringe attorneys claimed there was a conflict that only Congress and then-Vice President Mike Pence could resolve on Jan. 6.
Ultimately, Pence refused to support the effort, claiming it was illegal and unconstitutional, and rejecting a pressure campaign to treat the false GOP electors as legitimate.
Dozens of false electors were subpoenaed by the Jan. 6 select committee as well as special counsel Jack Smith, who is mounting a similar criminal probe into Trump’s bid to subvert the election.
Not all of the false electors across the country were equally involved in Trump’s effort — and dozens have contended that they had no knowledge their signatures would be used as part of Trump’s Jan. 6 effort. Rather, they said they were advised that they were signing “contingent” certificates that would only be used if courts reversed Trump’s defeat. They argued that similar tactics were used in 1960, when Democrats signed contingent certificates amid a recount in Hawaii. (The recount ultimately reversed that state’s results and the contingent electors were counted.)
But some of the false electors were also state party chairs and key Trump allies who played larger roles in Trump’s bid to stay in power. Willis, who has previously indicated she considers all of the false electors “targets” of her investigation, has raised concerns that Debrow’s representation of 10 of the false electors could present a conflict if any of them testify against each other. Last month, Willis claimed that recent interviews with the false electors revealed incriminating evidence about one of them.
Debrow, in Friday’s filing, sharply rejected that contention and maintained that none of her clients believed they had done anything wrong. She is urging the judge presiding over the matter, Robert McBurney, to reject Willis’ attempt to disqualify her from the case.
Debrow accused Willis’ team of misleading the judge about the status of immunity discussions between the electors and the DA’s office and she indicated that the assistant DA leading the interviews had threatened to indict one of the electors after a tense exchange. Debrow said she recorded aspects of the exchange without the prosecutors’ knowledge.
McBurney previously rejected a bid by Willis to disqualify Debrow from representing numerous contingent electors but did require one of them, David Shafer, the chairman of the Georgia GOP, to separate from the larger group. Shafer appeared to be more exposed to potential criminal charges than the others, McBurney ruled at the time.