Politics

Trump campaign operative who delivered fake Jan. 6 voter rolls identified

The origin of the bogus voter rolls, which never reached Pence before he presided over certification of Joe Biden’s Jan. 6 victory, became a lasting subplot in the select panel’s investigation into the Capitol attack designed to disrupt that day. After the committee revealed the role of a top aide to Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) in the episode during a hearing last month, Johnson said the fake voters rolls came from Kelly — who has repeatedly denied any involvement of his office in their dissemination.

“They changed their story from denying their involvement to not now denying the involvement of their former chief of staff,” Johnson spokeswoman Alexa Henning said. “Congressman Kelly should apologize to Senator Johnson for participating in the perpetration of false stories regarding Senator Johnson’s minimal involvement in this matter.”

Kelly recently touted the results of an “internal investigation” that identified Matt Stroia, her chief of staff at the time, as a go-between for the listings. This investigation revealed that the lists were never passed from Stroia, now a Pfizer lobbyist, to Johnson’s office. Kelly’s office, in response to a request for comment, said Stroia had a prior relationship with members of the Trump team and was contacted by someone connected to that team on Jan. 6.

“Matthew got the information,” Kelly’s current chief of staff, Tim Butler, said in an interview. “There was another staff member here in the office who was asked to physically walk. And it was just these two people who were involved.

Neither of those two people worked in Kelly’s office anymore, Butler said. Kelly’s office declined to identify the other staff member involved.

Neither Roman nor Stroia returned requests for comment for this story.

The two people who confirmed Roman’s involvement in handing over the voter rolls spoke on condition of anonymity amid the select panel’s ongoing investigation into the build-up to the attack and Trump’s role in it. this.

The Jan. 6 committee’s mention of his office’s role put Johnson, facing a tough re-election race this fall, on his back. Later, he told a radio host from his home country: “The whole involvement of my office in this case lasted 70 minutes. My involvement was probably a few seconds, maybe a minute or two.

Roman’s involvement, however, clarifies another piece of the puzzle behind Trump’s efforts to grab a second term he didn’t win. Trump, leaning on a fringe group of lawyers, spent much of December 2020 leaning on Republican state legislatures in a handful of states to ignore the results and deliver pro-Trump voters to Congress. .

Under Trump’s plan, Pence — constitutionally required to preside over the counting of electoral votes on Jan. 6, 2021 — would cite “substitute” and illegitimate voters to block Biden’s victory or delay the count altogether. In the end, no state legislature accepted Trump’s plan, but the former president’s campaign still rounded up activists to sign fake documents claiming to be genuine presidential voters and handed them over to the Congress.

The plan fell apart when Pence refused to follow through, saying it would violate several provisions of federal law and insisting he had no authority to do anything but introduce certified electoral votes. Pence, who had huddled with advisers and the Senate congressman to flesh out his position, had decided well before Jan. 6 that he would not try to overturn Biden’s victory.

But that hasn’t stopped the Trump campaign from trying to put some of the fake slates directly into Pence’s hands on Jan. 6.

The Justice Department is in discussions with the select committee about evidence specifically related to the fake voter effort, Jan. 6 panel chairman Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) said this week.

The DOJ in recent weeks has subpoenaed a slew of Trump allies who acted as fake voters, including several state GOP chairs. He also subpoenaed state-level operatives working on Trump’s campaign.

Additionally, FBI agents recently seized the phone of attorney John Eastman, one of Trump’s top strategists in the effort who worked closely on the bogus voter nomination plan. Eastman is fighting in federal court in New Mexico to get his phone back, but suffered a setback Friday night when a judge denied his motion for a restraining order.

During the subpoena for Roman, a Pennsylvania native, the select committee cited documents reflecting its efforts to convince Republican state legislatures to name lists of pro-Trump presidential voters as part of a strategy to to boost the losing campaign.

“[T]The Select Committee is in possession of communications reflecting your involvement in a coordinated strategy to contact Republican members of state legislatures in some states that former President Trump had lost and urge them to “reclaim” their authority by sending an alternate list of ‘voters who would support former President Trump,’ Thompson wrote in a letter accompanying the subpoena.

Burgess Everett contributed to this report.

Politico

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