BELLAIRE — Hours after a judge ruled results of an examination of Antrim County’s voting equipment could be made public, then-President Donald J. Trump used the since-debunked information to try to pressure the U.S. Department of Justice to take up his false claims of election fraud in Michigan and other states.
The Dec. 14 timeline came to light Tuesday, after DOJ officials turned over more than 230 pages of emails to investigators on the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Reform.
The document release further confirms in the waning days of the former president’s administration, how Trump staffers monitored an election-related lawsuit filed in the small rural county of 23,000.
Antrim County officials previously said an attorney working with the team who conducted the exam on behalf of a Central Lake Township man who filed the lawsuit, “bragged” about dining with Trump on Dec. 5, the night before arriving in northern Michigan via chartered jet.
Antrim County Clerk Sheryl Guy and township officials also previously said representatives of Allied Security Operations Group visited the county Nov. 27, accessed official election data in at least one township, telling local officials they represented Rudy Giuliani’s legal team.
Guy, a Republican, had said she thought the attorney, Katherine Friess, shared the information about having dinner with Trump and Giuliani, in an effort to try and impress local officials.
ASOG is based in Dallas and on Dec. 6 conducted a forensic examination of the county’s voting equipment on behalf of Bill Bailey and his attorney, Matthew DePerno, who in November filed a lawsuit accusing the county of voter fraud.
Judge Kevin Elsenheimer dismissed the lawsuit last month, but not before ASOG and its principle, Russell Ramsland, issued a report Michigan election officials and computer programming experts said contained misinformation and was riddled with fallacies.
Chris Krebs, the former chief of the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, called the ASOG report “factually inaccurate” when testifying in December before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.
Ryan Macias, former acting director of U.S. Election Assistance Commission Voting Testing and Certification Program, reviewed the ASOG report and issued a rebuttal, stating its authors had a “grave misunderstanding” of the county’s Dominion Voting Systems equipment and a “lack of knowledge” of election technology.
Alex Halderman, a professor of computer science and engineering at the University of Michigan also issued a report, and confirmed initial mistakes in the vote tally in Antrim County’s presidential election were the result of human error and not a security breach.
Ramsland is no stranger to Michigan electoral politics and previously made inaccurate claims about Detroit’s election results and mistook voting jurisdictions in Minnesota for Michigan in court filings.
One report by ASOG, purporting to analyze the results of their examination in Antrim County, went viral after it was shared during a state House Oversight Committee hearing in Lansing on Dec. 2.
Giuliani attended, along with a number of associated witnesses, who shared widely debunked allegations of election fraud.
It was a subsequent ASOG report that on Dec. 14 Elsenheimer ruled could be made public, and which shortly thereafter a Trump aide emailed to Jeffrey A. Rosen, the incoming acting U.S. Attorney General, the emails show.
The emails were posted on a public government website as part of the committee’s investigation into events leading up to the Jan. 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol by insurrectionists protesting the results of the 2020 presidential election.
“The extent of the efforts of current and former elected officials to deceive voters in order to advance partisan and political agendas is appalling and dangerous to our communities, our democracy and our nation,” Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said in a statement issued shortly after the emails were made public.
Also in December Benson successfully filed a motion to intervene in the Antrim case, was added as a named defendant and has been represented by staff attorneys with the Michigan Attorney General’s office.
A timeline of related events which occurred Dec. 14 shows the following:
8:30 a.m. — Judge Elsenheimer presides over a motion hearing in 13th Circuit Court, where he rules the results of the election equipment examination by ASOG can be made public, once redactions for security purposes are made.
2:45 p.m. — U.S. Presidential electors meet in their respective states to vote for president and vice president on separate ballots; in Michigan the 16 electors began voting at 2:45 and had adjourned by 3:30 p.m. About a dozen people who said they were Republican electors there to cast their ballots for then-President Trump tried to enter the building but were denied entry by Michigan State Police.
3 p.m. — Trump tweets about the ASOG report, “Wow. This report shows massive fraud. Election changing result!”
4:57 p.m. — Trump directs an aide, Molly Michael, to email the ASOG report and a set of “talking points” to Rosen, the incoming acting Attorney General. The subject line of the email reads, “from POTUS.”
Among these “talking points” was a section titled, “Arguments Against Us,” which offered a series of counter arguments should someone contend that mistakes in Antrim County weren’t significant, didn’t impact the election and the forensics team wasn’t professional.
On such counter argument states, “IN fact, the constitution requires we investigate every county.”
4:59 p.m. — A DOJ official emails these same Antrim County-related documents to Matthew Schneider, U.S. attorney for Michigan’s Eastern District, and Andrew Birge, U.S. attorney for the state’s Western District. The email contains the message, “See attachments per Rich Donoghue.”
(Trump had selected Donoghue to serve as deputy attorney general once Rosen was promoted to acting attorney general.)
5:39 p.m. — Trump announces then-Attorney General William P. Barr, was exiting his post with just over a month to serve before the then-president left office.
Antrim County has been the subject of repeated and false claims about fraud in the 2020 presidential election, following acknowledged mistakes by Guy and staff in her office.
In November Guy acknowledged her office did not properly update Dominion Voting Systems software to accommodate ballot changes in some precincts prior to the election.
The mistake caused about 2,000 votes cast for Trump to be initially and erroneously assigned to then-challenger Joe Biden. After Guy was made aware of the issue, results were corrected prior to certification and Trump handily won the county.
Trump supporters have since accused Dominion of purposely “flipping” votes, which the company has repeatedly denied.
Benson responded by directing the state’s Bureau of Elections to conduct a hand recount of all ballots cast in Antrim County for president in the 2020 election. The recount was held Dec. 17, at the Kearney Township Hall using local volunteer poll workers and livestreaming the all-day event, which found no fraud.
Trump gained 12 votes in the recount, a 0.07% difference from the certified results, the state reported.
Although Elsenheimer dismissed the Antrim County lawsuit, a motion hearing is scheduled for July 12 at 11 a.m., so the judge can hear arguments from the state opposing a stay order drafted by DePerno.
At issue is whether the judge stayed “all matters” or whether it was only unresolved motions on hiatus until an appeal is filed or the deadline for filing passes.
A motion for reconsideration filed by DePerno June 9 is also pending, staff with 13th Circuit Court said.
A spokesperson from Dominion declined comment for this story.
DePerno, Guy and Elsenheimer did not return calls or emails seeking comment.