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AZ ‘fake electors’ making court appearances

Trump lawyer who pushed elector theory will enter plea at first arraignment. Giuliani still hasn’t been served with summons.

PHOENIX — Starting Friday morning, Arizona’s “fake electors” case will get going with the first of the 18 defendants walking into a basement courtroom in downtown Phoenix. 

One arraignment is scheduled Friday, for John C. Eastman.

Eastman is the 64-year-old conservative law professor and former Trump lawyer who was the father of the fake elector scheme, according to court documents.

Many of the remaining defendants – about 10 at this point – will show up for their arraignments at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday. 

Some have been granted extensions until later in May or June. A few will appear virtually. 

One defendant, former Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, has not yet been served yet with his summons to appear in court.

The arraignments will last a few minutes. Defendants will enter a plea, then go off to be fingerprinted and take a mug shot.

What was the ‘fake electors’ scheme?

The alleged scheme was an illegally coordinated attempt by Trump’s allies to overturn his defeat in Arizona’s 2020 presidential election, potentially erasing the ballots cast by 1.7 million people.

According to the indictment: “The defendants…  schemed to prevent the lawful transfer of the presidency to keep (Donald Trump) in office against the will of Arizona voters.”

Arizona was one of seven battleground states targeted by Trump allies after he lost the 2020 vote.

Who’s been charged?

Democratic Attorney General Kris Mayes obtained indictments last month against 18 people, on nine felony counts  each of forgery, fraud and conspiracy.

Eleven of the defendants were Trump electors in 2020 who declared themselves the duly elected Arizona electors on a document that purported to be official. 

Among the phony electors are two elected officials — State Sens. Jake Hoffman of Queen Creek and Anthony Kern of Glendale — and the former chairwoman of the Arizona Republican Party, Kelli Ward.

The seven other defendants were Trump allies, including his chief of staff, Mark Meadows.

Who is John Eastman?

Almost four years after the presidential election, Eastman finds himself in a legal and professional quagmire.

His legal theory would have disrupted the electoral college count by Vice President Mike Pence on Jan. 6, 2021, possibly putting the election result in the hands of the Republican-controlled House or Republican-controlled legislatures in the affected states. 

  • Last September, in a Georgia case that mirrors Arizona’s, Eastman was indicted on nine felony charges in Fulton County for his alleged role in a fake elector scheme.
  • Eastman is an unindicted co-conspirator in the federal criminal case against Trump that stems from his attempts to remain in power after the 2020 election.
  • He faces the loss of his law license in California.

Eastman’s apparent attempt to reverse the Arizona vote included putting pressure on then-House Speaker Rusty Bowers during a phone call on Jan. 4, 2021, two days before Congress was to certify the 2020 election results. 

Where’s Rudy Giuliani?

The last public sighting of Giuliani in Arizona was three weeks after the 2020 election. He spread falsehoods about the election at an 11-hour gathering in a Phoenix hotel ballroom.

(Giuliani may have spread COVID-19 in the ballroom. The Legislature had to shut down for a week out of concern that about 15 Republican lawmakers had been exposed.)

AG Mayes’ office has made several attempts to serve Giuliani with a summons to appear in a Phoenix courtroom next week. 

Giuliani’s been unreachable, but he’s not in hiding.

On new nightly broadcasts this week on X, the site formerly known as Twitter, Giuliani has revealed that he’s now in Florida.

‘There’s an easy way and a hard way’

“They could have an arrest warrant issued, and he could be arrested … and brought forcibly to Arizona,” said Mark Kokanovich, a former federal prosecutor.

“That happens sometimes. It’s not the usual course in these white-collar cases, but that’s one of the options.”

The former lawyer for Donald Trump is charged with nine felonies in Arizona for his alleged role in the fake electors scheme. 

Kokanovich said Giuliani’s lawyer could also accept the summons.

“There’s an easy way to do this and a hard way to do this,” Kokanovich said. 

“Most everyone prefers the easy way.”

A Mayes spokesman told 12News that her office would likely wait until next week before exploring other options to serve Giuliani.

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