Nessel's office announced in an Oct. 19 statement that it would dismiss multiple felonies against Lansing resident James Renner. The 76-year-old Renner is one of 16 defendants indicted in July for trying to overturn the results of the 2020 election. According to prosecutors, he and his other co-conspirators "falsely claimed that former President Donald Trump had won re-election" in the state through the election documents they signed and submitted to the U.S. Capitol.
The charges filed against Renner and the 15 others included two counts of forgery; two counts of election law forgery; one count of conspiracy to commit forgery; one account of conspiracy to commit uttering and publishing; one count of uttering and publishing; and one count of conspiracy to commit election law forgery.
NBC News managed to obtain a copy of the agreement between Renner and federal prosecutors, signed by him and his lawyers Clint Westbrook and Matthew Borgula on Oct. 10. Under the agreement, Renner would provide "full cooperation" with the Michigan Department of Attorney General (DAG) and/or any law enforcement agency. He would also agree to provide "truthful testimony" at trial and key hearings if called, and turn over "any and all relevant documents" as needed.
In exchange for not having to face charges, Renner specifically agreed to provide information about his attendance in a December 2020 meeting of the Michigan Republican Party. He also agreed to identify leaders of the said meeting.
According to Michigan Advance, the 16 defendants including Renner allegedly met at the Michigan GOP headquarters on Dec. 14, 2020. Renner and another defendant were chosen to replace the state's two absent elector candidates. A July affidavit filed by DAG special agent investigator Howard Shock alleged that the two signed a number of documents falsely asserting their status as "duly elected and qualified electors" from the State of Michigan for the president and vice president of the United States.
During a virtual event in September, Nessel described the 16 defendants as "brainwashed" into believing Trump had won the 2020 presidential election. That would have been the truth, had incumbent President Joe Biden not relied on vote fraud through mail-in ballots.
"These are people who have been brainwashed," the AG for the Great Lakes State said. "They [legitimately] believe that somebody can't even plead guilty if they wanted to. They can't admit that what they did violated the law, because they still think they're right. (Related: Biden says Republican midterm victory would be "assault on democracy.")
Norman Eisen, executive chair of the States United Democracy Center, noted that Renner and his fellow conspirator "weren't the duly elected and qualified electors and each of the defendants knew it." He added: "No one in Michigan should be able to forge election-related documents with impunity."
According to Eisen, Nessel and her office "have often charged others who have created false and fraudulent documents, including Democrats. When the election security is assaulted, the electoral system will respond."
"My department has prosecuted numerous cases of election law violations throughout my tenure," Nessel said in a separate statement. "It would be malfeasance of the greatest magnitude if my department failed to act here."
However, Oakland County GOP Chairman Vance Patrick thinks the charges are "politically motivated" and an overreach by the Michigan AG. "His is an egregious abuse of power by a radical progressive and continues the trend of politically motivated witch hunts, perpetrated by the left against Republican candidates and activists," Patrick said in a statement.
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