Michigan AG urges special prosecutor probe of alleged GOP-led effort to break into voting machines

Michigan AG urges special prosecutor probe of alleged GOP-led effort to break into voting machines
Dana Nessel, image via Screengrab.

Democracy defenders on Monday welcomed reports that Dana Nessel, Michigan's attorney general, is calling for a special prosecutor to probe allegations of a Republican-led attempt to feloniously break into voting machines after the 2020 U.S. presidential election.

The New York Timesreports Nessel, a Democrat, is seeking to appoint a special prosecutor to review potential crimes committed by Matthew DePerno—a supporter of former President Donald Trump's "Big Lie" that the 2020 contest was stolen and a presumptive GOP candidate for attorney general. He stands accused of conspiring with more than half a dozen other Republicans to gain illicit access to the voting tabulators used in the 2020 election.

"These revelations hammer home the need for AG Nessel to promptly name a special prosecutor to avoid a conflict of interest and investigate these very serious allegations," Quentin Turner, Michigan program director at the advocacy group Common Cause, said in a statement.

"We believe the alleged actions of Mr. DePerno highlight a well-known truth: Our democracy is in danger—both in Michigan and across the country. Mr. DePerno and his team's alleged behavior do not align with the values of Michiganders who believe in fair, safe, and accessible elections."

As the Times details:

According to the office of Ms. Nessel... Mr. DePerno and others persuaded local clerks in three counties to hand over election equipment and then took the machines to hotels and Airbnb rentals to perform "tests" on them. They returned the equipment, now damaged or improperly tampered with, in parking lots and shopping malls, the documents say...

Mr. DePerno's candidacy for attorney general has worried election experts, Democrats, and even many Republicans, who fear that he could use his powers to carry out investigations based on fraudulent claims or other forms of meddling in elections. He has also pledged to carry out inquiries of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Ms. Nessel, and [Secretary of State Jocelyn] Benson, all Democrats.

In a statement, DePerno accused Nessel of targeting him "for the 'crime' of investigating voter fraud in 2020." There is no evidence of any such fraud.

"Matthew DePerno represents a continued movement of partisan candidates who have aided the former president in uplifting the Big Lie—a destructive scheme to try and overturn our votes in the 2020 election," Turner said. "This rhetoric DePerno supports led to the January 6 insurrection, a bloody and violent attempt to block the peaceful transfer of power."

"We have seen several audits since the 2020 election results, and the fact remains that [President] Joe Biden fairly won the 2020 presidential election and Michigan's 16 electors," he continued. "We must denounce the Big Lie and those who refuse to uphold the will of the people in our elections."

"These allegations must be taken seriously," Turner added. "Matthew DePerno's alleged behavior is a direct attack on our democracy, and we must do everything we can to protect it and voting rights. A special prosecutor will allow a full investigation of these serious alleged infractions."

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