Trump adviser Boris Epshteyn pleads not guilty in Arizona’s fake elector case

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PHOENIX (AP) — Lawyers Boris Epshteyn and Jenna Ellis and former U.S. Senate candidate James Lamon have pleaded not guilty to nine felony charges for their roles in trying to overturn former President Donald Trump’s Arizona election loss to Joe Biden.

The hearing Tuesday in a Phoenix courtroom marked the last of 18 arraignments in the fake elector case. Fifteen other people, including former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former Trump Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Epshteyn, a Trump adviser, is accused of assisting Giuliani in carrying out the scheme to submit fake electors for Trump in Arizona and obstruct the certification of election results by Congress on Jan. 6, 2021.

Prosecutors in Michigan, Nevada, Georgia and Wisconsin have also filed criminal charges related to the fake electors scheme.

Arizona authorities unveiled the felony charges in late April against 11 Republicans who submitted a document to Congress falsely declaring Trump had won Arizona. The defendants include five lawyers connected to the former president and two former Trump aides. Biden won Arizona by more than 10,000 votes.

Trump himself was not charged in the Arizona case but was referred to as an unindicted co-conspirator in the indictment.

Arizona authorities say Ellis made false claims of widespread election fraud in the state and six others, encouraged the Arizona Legislature to change the outcome of the election and encouraged then-Vice President Mike Pence to accept Arizona’s fake elector votes.

Lamon, a businessman who lost a 2022 Republican primary for a U.S. Senate seat in Arizona, is accused of falsely stating he was a duly elected and qualified elector. Prosecutors have pointed out that Lamon didn’t withdraw his vote even though no legal challenge had successfully changed the outcome in Arizona. Last year, Ellis was charged in Georgia after she appeared with Giuliani at a December 2020 hearing hosted by state Republican lawmakers at the Georgia Capitol during which false allegations of election fraud were made. She pleaded guilty in October to one felony count of aiding and abetting false statements and writings after reaching a deal with prosecutors.

The 11 people who claimed to be Arizona’s Republican electors met in Phoenix on Dec. 14, 2020, to sign a certificate saying they were “duly elected and qualified” electors and asserting that Trump carried the state. A one-minute video of the signing ceremony was posted on social media by the Arizona Republican Party at the time. The document was later sent to Congress and the National Archives, where it was ignored.

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