One of the 16 Republicans accused of a “false elector” scheme in Michigan after the 2020 election indicated he was remorseful for his involvement, according to a New York Times report.
James Renner, 77, is the only one out of the 16 defendants to have his charges dropped after he and the office of Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel (D) agreed to a cooperation deal in October.
The remaining 15 defendants pleaded not guilty in August to eight criminal counts alleging they signed false certificates in an attempt to shift the state’s Electoral College votes to former President Trump over now-President Biden.
According to a recording of Renner’s interview with the state attorney general’s office obtained by the New York Times, he told the office he realized he and the others allegedly involved acted improperly after looking at testimony from the House’s probe into the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack.
“I can’t overemphasize how once I read the information in the J6 transcripts how upset I was that the legitimate process had not been followed,” Renner told the state’s attorney general’s office, according to the Times. “I felt that I had been walked into a situation that I shouldn’t have ever been involved in.”
Renner, a former state trooper and retired businessman, was put onto the roster of electors in December 2020 after being contacted by the head of Clinton County, Michigan’s, Republican Party when two others dropped out days before Dec. 14, 2020, the Times reported.
He hadn’t previously served as an elector, though he volunteered as a Republican Party activist in Clinton County, the Times added.
Renner told investigators he realized he “knew nothing about the electoral process,” when he arrived at the Dec. 14, 2020 meeting.
“I was accepting the individuals that were in authority” knew “what they were talking about,” he reportedly said in the interview.
Renner said it was not until he reviewed House transcripts and information on the official procedure for electors when he “realized that, hold it, there is an official state authorized process for this,” and that what happened “was not legitimate.”
“I had never been an elector, I had never discussed it with anybody,” Renner said. “I was used to a much more informal process at the county level. And so that’s when I became suspicious of what had gone on.”
Renner told investigators he is “very upset,” and that he felt “betrayed is an understatement. That’s all I can say,” according to the Times report.
The Hill reached out to the Michigan Attorney General’s Office for further comment.
Michigan’s Republican national committeewoman, Kathy Berden, is among the defendants, some of whom have claimed they were not aware of what they were signing. Others said they believed signing the certification was in case a future court reversed the decision.
Special counsel Jack Smith referenced this fake elector scheme in the Department of Justice’s indictment of Trump in August over his attempts to remain in power after losing the 2020 election.
Smith alleged Trump’s team attempted to persuade GOP electors to sign their names on an alternative certificate to make a “fake controversy” that would provide grounds for then-Vice President Mike Pence to throw out the electoral votes during the certification of results on Jan. 6, 2021. Pence did not agree to the plan.
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