Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said during a recent event with liberal activists that the fake 2020 Republican voters she accused were “brainwashed” to keep former President Donald Trump in power , and touted that their cases would benefit from juries from a “very Democratic party.” leaning county,” according to a recording obtained by CNN.
Nessel, a Democrat, made the comments Monday during a virtual event organized and promoted by liberal groups to discuss “messaging” around 2020 election cases involving Trump and his allies. Last July, Nessel’s office filed the first criminal complaint of its kind against fake voters in Michigan.
“People talk a lot about, oh, why don’t you start turning over some of these people so they can become witnesses against the remaining defendants, the worst defendants?” » said Nessel. “The problem is that these are people who have been brainwashed.”
She continued: “How do you overthrow someone who admits that he did everything he’s accused of, but what he says is, ‘we think we were right.’ We believe that Donald Trump is the real winner of the election… They are indeed right to believe so. They sincerely believe in it. Someone can’t even plead guilty if they want to, because they can’t admit that what they did violated the law, because they still think they’re right.”
Defense attorneys for some of the fake voters told CNN they believe Nessel crossed a line, and outside legal experts said her comments could make it harder for her to secure convictions.
Shan Wu, a former federal prosecutor who supports the fake voter charge, said it was “inappropriate” for Nessel to “insult the defendants” her office is prosecuting.
“It undermines the validity of his prosecution theory,” Wu said. “If you think these people are brainwashed, then they didn’t have the right state of mind and couldn’t form the criminal intent to break the law, because they were being brainwashed by others.”
A spokesperson for Nessel did not respond to CNN’s requests for comment. Nessel’s comments at the progressive event were first reported by The Detroit News.
The event featuring Nessel was organized by a progressive podcaster and promoted by Protectors of Equality in Government, a left-wing advocacy group based in Michigan.
All 16 fake voters charged in Michigan have pleaded not guilty. They include current and former GOP officials, a mayor, a school board member and several elderly local party activists. Some fake voters continue to peddle false claims about the 2020 presidential election.
The group met on December 14, 2020, and signed certificates falsely proclaiming that Trump had won the state and that they were the “duly elected and qualified electors.” The Trump campaign hoped that these lists of fake voters would supplant candidate Joe Biden’s legitimate Democratic voters when Congress certified the results on January 6, 2021.
Each false voter is charged with eight crimes.
Separately, Justice Department special counsel Jack Smith accused Trump of leading the scheme, which his campaign orchestrated in seven battleground states. The fake Michigan voters were not charged in this proceeding.
Video obtained by CNN shows Nessel denouncing the recent acquittals of three men accused of plotting to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat. Nessel compared that case, which was tried in a conservative rural county, to the fake voter case, which is taking place in the state capital of Lansing, where she filed the charges.
“Ingham County, where Lansing was, is a very, very Democratic-leaning county,” Nessel said. “But I fear there are people who simply won’t care if they’ve clearly violated the law because they believe the ends justify the means. And that, you know, is acceptable as long as the end goal is to put this autocrat in power.”
Kevin Kijewski, attorney for bogus voter Clifford Frost, 75, said Nessel’s remarks were “troubling” and that some of his comments could help him fight the charges.
“It seems to be more of a political calculation on the part of the attorney general, rather than trying to seek the truth and try this case on the merits,” Kijewski said, adding that he thinks the comment “subject to washing of brain” of Nessel is “not only defamatory”. but it also undermines the trust citizens have in our justice system and the rule of law.
Kijewski said Frost recognizes that Biden “is the rightful president.” However, Frost posted a post on Facebook on Tuesday titled “Trump Won Michigan in 2020.” (The post was deleted after CNN asked Kijewski about it.)
A hearing is scheduled for early October for Frost’s motion to dismiss the charges, where his attorney argues that Nessel is attempting to criminalize “futile political protest,” referring to the fake Electoral College certificates. Additional hearings are scheduled for later in October and November, as all 16 cases move toward potential trials.
“It shows they have no record, and she just admitted it,” said Nick Somberg, attorney for Meshawn Maddock, an accused bogus voter and former Michigan GOP co-chair.