Trump allies Meadows, Giuliani among 18 indicted in Arizona election scheme

The charges relate to their alleged efforts to undermine President Joe Biden’s election victory in 2020.

Former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows attends a Donald Trump campaign event in Lititz, Pennsylvania, in October 2020 [File: Leah Millis/Reuters]

A grand jury in the state of Arizona has charged Donald Trump’s chief of staff Mark Meadows, lawyer Rudy Giuliani and 16 others for their alleged roles in trying to overturn the former United States president’s loss in the 2020 election.

The indictment released late on Wednesday by the state attorney general names 11 Republicans who submitted a document to Congress falsely declaring that Trump had won the key state in 2020.

They include the former state party chair, a 2022 US Senate candidate and two sitting state lawmakers. They are charged with nine counts each of conspiracy, fraud and forgery.

The identities of the seven others, including Giuliani and Meadows, were redacted by the attorney general because they had not yet been officially served with the documents, but they were easily identifiable based on their descriptions.

The indictment mentions the chief of staff in 2020, the position Meadows held in the Trump White House at that time.

Trump himself was not charged but was referred to as an unindicted co-conspirator.

The charges were filed after a yearlong investigation by Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes, a Democrat, on the handling of the election by Republicans in the key swing state that President Joe Biden won in 2020 by a mere 10,457 votes.

The southwestern state now becomes the fourth after Michigan, Georgia and Nevada to pursue charges against Trump allies who used false or unproven claims about voter fraud.

“I will not allow American democracy to be undermined,” Mayes said in a video released by her office. “It’s too important.”

But Trump and his supporters continue to make claims against Biden’s victory in the 2020 election as the former president gears up to face off again against the Democratic incumbent in the November election.

George Terwilliger, a lawyer representing Meadows, said he had not yet seen the indictment but if Meadows is named, “it is a blatantly political and politicised accusation and will be contested and defeated.”

Ted Goodman, a spokesman for Giuliani, responded: “Continued weaponisation of our justice system should concern every American as it does permanent, irrevocable harm to the country.”

Trump himself has been charged in four criminal cases. The first went to trial this month in New York. It concerns alleged “hush money”payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels to buy her silence after she alleged a sexual encounter with Trump, which he has denied. He is charged with falsifying business records to cover up the payments before the 2016 presidential election.

The former president was also indicted in August in federal court over efforts to cling to power after being defeated in the 2020 election. The US Supreme Court on Thursday will hear arguments on Trump’s  claim in that case that he can’t be prosecuted for acts he committed while serving as president.

The other two indictments are an election interference case in the state of Georgia and a federal case in Florida involving the mishandling of classified documents.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies