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The Signing: What to know about the Arizona attorney generals 2020 election probe

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(WASHINGTON) — On Dec. 14, 2020, five weeks after the 2020 presidential election, a group of 11 Republicans convened at the state Republican Party headquarters in Phoenix and signed documents they claimed on social media were the legitimate representations of the state’s electoral votes.

They called it “The Signing.”

“For President Donald J. Trump of the state of Florida, number of votes: 11,” one of the alleged fake electors said in a video posted on X by the Republican Party of Arizona. “Vice President Michael R. Pence of the state of Indiana, number of votes: 11.”

Now, more than three years later, those signers appear to be at the center of a probe by Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes, a Democrat who recently said in public that her office “will announce something in the relatively near future.”

If Mayes takes action against the group, Arizona will become the fourth state to file criminal charges against the so-called “fake electors” who allegedly announced they were ready to pledge electoral votes to Donald Trump in their respective states during the 2020 election, despite Joe Biden winning those states.

Most recently, in December, Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford announced felony charges against six alleged “fake electors” in that state. In Michigan, Attorney General Dana Nessel similarly charged 16 “alternate electors” in July for conspiracy to commit forgery, among other charges. And in Georgia, three such “fake electors” were among the 18 co-defendants charged, along with Trump, in a sweeping racketeering indictment for alleged efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election in that state.

All defendants charged in all three probes have pleaded not guilty, with Georgia defendants Kenneth Chesebro, Sidney Powell, Jenna Ellis and Scott Hall subsequently taking plea deals in exchange for agreeing to testify in that case. In Michigan, the attorney general dropped all charges against defendant Jim Renner in exchange for his cooperation.

ABC News previously reported that Trump’s Georgia co-defendant Michael Roman was subpoenaed as part of the Arizona probe and that Chesebro sat for a voluntary interview with Arizona investigators in recent weeks.

‘The Signing’
The 11 Republicans who met in December 2020 included then-Arizona Republican Party Chair Kelli Ward, two Republican lawmakers, and a top official with the Republican National Committee. During the publicly documented meeting, they signed documents that falsely claimed they were Arizona’s rightful electors.

“Today, Arizona’s 11 Republican presidential electors met to cast their votes for President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence,” the Arizona GOP tweeted in December 2020. “With ongoing legal challenges to the 2020 presidential election still being heard in the courts across the country holding hearings on election fraud and voting irregularities, it is imperative that the proper elections are counted by Congress.”

All 11 alleged fake electors were also part of a legal challenge in the state that sought to challenge the election results based on allegations of voter fraud.

The case was thrown out by a judge who called their claims of election fraud “sorely wanting of relevant or reliable evidence.”

Pressure from the president
While the 11 Republicans were making their false claims, Trump and his allies were pressuring Arizona election officials about the election results.

ABC News previously reported that Trump attempted to pressure then-Gov. Doug Ducey to overturn the state’s 2020 election results, and that Trump asked then-Vice President Mike Pence to pressure Ducey to find fraudulent votes in the state, according to sources. Although Pence called Ducey multiple times in the aftermath of the election, he did not follow through with Trump’s instructions to pressure him, sources said.

Trump also pressured Rusty Bowers, then the Arizona House speaker, according to Bowers’ testimony before the House Jan 6. Committee.

Trump called Bowers in December 2020 “for the purpose of soliciting, requesting, and importuning Bowers to unlawfully appoint presidential electors from Arizona,” the committee said.

“As I told you, Mr. President, I voted for you. I worked for you, campaigned for you. I just won’t do anything illegal for you,” Bowers recalled telling Trump.

John Eastman, a pro-Trump attorney who is a co-defendant in the Georgia case, also called Bowers on Jan. 4, 2021, and asked him to unlawfully appoint presidential electors in Arizona, Bowers said.

Claims of election fraud
Bowers also told the Jan. 6 Committee that he received calls from Trump and attorney Rudy Giuliani about election fraud in the state.

“I was insistent that I had to have proof, real proof, judicial level,” Bowers testified. “That’s the kind of proof I’m talking about. And the president said, ‘Rudy, give the man what he wants."”

Asked by ABC News’ Jonathan Karl if Giuliani ever provided that evidence, Bowers said, “He never gave us anything. No names, no data, nothing.”

Bowers also said that Giuliani and Ellis flew to Phoenix and met with him and other Arizona lawmakers, and asked them to convene the legislature to investigate their unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud.

Mayes, the Arizona attorney general, has not commented on whether her probe goes beyond the 11 alleged fake electors.

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