A Michigan Republican who served as a fake elector for former President Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election expressed remorse for partaking in the scheme, per a recording of the elector’s interview with the state attorney general’s office that was obtained by The New York Times.
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel dropped criminal charges against 77-year-old James Renner after he agreed to cooperate. Renner is the only one of 16 fake electors charged to have reached an agreement with Nessel’s office. Thus far, Nessel has only charged the electors but has stated that her investigation is ongoing.
“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 said in the interview. “I felt that I had been walked into a situation that I shouldn’t have ever been involved in.”
The Times reported that Renner was an eleventh-hour substitution in December of 2020 for two electors who had dropped out of the plot. Slates of fake electors have already been charged in several states, including Georgia, Michigan, and Nevada. Separate probes are also underway in Arizona and New Mexico.
The investigators who conducted Renner’s interview questioned him about a bevy of items related to the scheme, including reported key players such as former New York City Mayor and Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani, and Shawn Flynn — a Michigan lawyer who worked with the Trump campaign. Giuliani is also charged in the Georgia probe, headed by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis. He recently filed for bankruptcy after being ordered to pay $148 million to two Georgia election workers who sued him for defamation after he peddled voter fraud conspiracies about them.
The Times reported that Renner is a former state trooper and a retired businessman who volunteered as a local party activist in Clinton County, near Michigan’s state capital, Lansing. “He had never served as an elector before and typically supported Republican campaigns by passing out signs and distributing fliers,” the Times report noted. “He said he was contacted by the head of the county Republican Party a day or so before the electors had planned to meet on Dec. 14, 2020, was asked to fill in for someone who was dropping out and agreed to do so.”
During the interview, Renner indicated that he “knew nothing about the electoral process,” adding that three other electors — Meshawn Maddock, Kathleen Berden, and Marya Rodriguez — took the reins. All three have pleaded not guilty. “I was accepting the individuals that were in authority” knew “what they were talking about,” Renner told investigators.
It was not until he and the other electors were sued in civil court in January of 2023, Renner said, that he took it upon himself to begin reading into the House transcripts and the official procedure for electors. He later understood that what had transpired “was not legitimate.”
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“It was only then that I realized that, hold it, there is an official state authorized process for this,” he said. Prior to that, Renner said, “I had never been an elector, I had never discussed it with anybody. 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.”
“I am very upset, I don’t show it, but I am,” Renner told investigators. Feeling “betrayed,” he added, “is an understatement. That’s all I can say.”
about the fake elector scheme