A federal judge on Thursday rejected a request to halt Michigan’s state-level prosecution of pro-Trump fake electors accused of attempting to undermine the 2020 election. Clifford Frost, one of the charged fake electors, had contended that the federal court should intervene due to alleged political bias and “bad faith” on the part of Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, a Democrat critical of Trump.
However, US District Judge Robert Jonker declined to intervene, stating insufficient evidence of prosecutorial misconduct. He asserted that the fake electors could address concerns about Nessel’s motivations during the state court proceedings. Nessel’s office did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment on the ruling.
Michigan made history last summer by being the first state to bring charges against GOP activists involved in a nationwide plot to manipulate the Electoral College and keep Donald Trump in power, despite his loss in the 2020 election. The case faces challenges, and attempts to challenge the charges are closely monitored.
In his 11-page decision, Judge Jonker argued against claims of bias, stating, “Frost has certainly raised multiple issues that a court will have to address and resolve on the merits. But this is not enough to establish the bad faith prosecution.” He emphasized that there was nothing unique about Frost’s arguments requiring federal intervention.
The 16 fake electors from Michigan face eight state felonies each. One defendant has agreed to cooperate with Nessel’s prosecutors in exchange for dropping the charges. Frost and the remaining 14 defendants have pleaded not guilty.
Further state hearings are expected in the coming months to assess whether sufficient evidence exists for the case to proceed. Some fake electors argue that Nessel misapplied state forgery laws to bring charges when no deception occurred, as nobody believed they were the authentic electors. Additionally, attempts to dismiss charges based on Nessel’s controversial comments calling them “brainwashed” were unsuccessful, with the defendants contending it proved their lack of intent to break the law.