Trio of Trump affiliates face years behind bars over fake electors plot in Wisconsin


Jim Troupis, on the left; Ken Chesebro, center, Mike Roman, on the right

Left: Trump campaign attorney James Troupis speaks to Congress about election integrity in Dec. 2020 (Greg Nash/Pool via AP); Center: Lawyer Kenneth Chesebro is sworn in during a plea deal hearing, Oct. 20, 2023, at the Fulton County Courthouse in Atlanta (Alyssa Pointer/Pool Photo via AP, File); Right: Michael Roman appears in a booking photo (Fulton County Jail)

A trio of Trumpworld denizens involved in the so-called “alternate,” or fake, electors plot following the 2020 presidential election have been charged with felony counts of forgery in Wisconsin.

Attorneys Kenneth “Ken” Chesebro, James “Jim” Troupis, and former Trump 2020 campaign staffer Michael “Mike” Roman now stand accused of one count each of forgery by uttering, according to a 47-page criminal complaint filed in Dane County Circuit Court on Tuesday.

The statute being used to prosecute the three makes it a Class H felony for anyone who “utters as genuine or possesses with intent to utter as false or as genuine any forged writing or object mentioned in sub. (1), knowing it to have been thus falsely made or altered.”

The cross-referenced statute — referred to as “sub. (1)” — makes it a crime for anyone who “with intent to defraud falsely makes or alters a writing or object of any of the following kinds so that it purports to have been made by another, or at another time, or with different provisions, or by authority of one who did not give such authority.”

The crime carries a maximum sentence of six years in state prison.

Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul said he will hold a press conference on Tuesday “to announce legal action in unappointed electors conspiracy,” according to WISN reporter Matt Smith.

Under the auspices of the fake electors scheme, several dozen Republican Party officials and laypeople across the country worked to have several swing states’ Electoral College votes swapped over to Donald Trump — despite the 45th president losing the vote in each of those states to Joe Biden. In each case, false declarations were signed by would-be “alternate” electors. Corresponding lawsuits were filed that aimed to then have those putative Trump electors.

In each state, the parallel litigation failed, as did the entire scheme — but in Wisconsin, the legal efforts, at least, came close to success.

According to the complaint, Troupis and Chesebro were involved in an initial conference call about the scheme on Nov. 17, 2020.

The next day, Chesebro emailed Troupis and others a memorandum titled, “The Real Deadline for Settling a State’s Electoral Votes.”

According to the complaint, this memo “argued that electors representing Donald Trump and Michael Pence should meet and cast their votes on December 14, 2020, to preserve the Trump-Pence electoral slate in the event of ‘a court decision (or, perhaps a state legislative determination) rendered after December 14 in favor of the Trump-Pence slate of electors.’”

Wisconsin prosecutors first identify Roman’s involvement in the scheme as minimal – being sent a message by “Individual A” on Dec. 11, 2020, which was addressed to Chesebro as well. The message singled out in the complaint reads: “Ken—need you to call Mike Roman, copied, ASAP, and fill him in on the whole lay of the land.”

In turn, Chesebro allegedly sent Roman a series of documents and discussions about the plot, according to the complaint. By Dec. 12, 2020, Roman was allegedly involved in discussions himself. Prosecutors attached text messages which allegedly show a conversation between Roman and Chesebro “about the language in the certificates to be signed by the Trump-Pence electors.”

A court document filed by prosecutors in Wisconsin allegedly shows text messages between Ken Chesebro and Mike Roman

A court document filed by prosecutors in Wisconsin allegedly shows text messages between Ken Chesebro and Mike Roman about the fake electors plot (Criminal complaint)

Prosecutors allege Chesebro sent Roman the following lengthy message on Dec. 13, 2020:

Dec. 14 votes going in sets up the possibility of the President of the Senate (maybe not Pence; maybe he recuses and it’s Grassley or next person in line who is willing to do this) on Jan. 6 taking the position, well supported by the 12th Amendment in the historical era in which it was enacted, that according to the original understanding of the Constitution, he has sole power to both open *and* count the votes—and that he won’t count any State where there was never careful, deliberate hearings on the merits, with evidence, on asserted irregularities, either in a court or the legislature. Only Supreme Court could override that (cuz he’d refuse to open the envelopes of the 6 States unless Court orders him, at minimum buying time). If not overruled, he could force hearings in the States, but time would quickly run out, and the state legislatures would have to appoint electors if they wanted to be counted and avoid the election being thrown to the House (if Nancy then refused to hold a vote, Senate would reelect Pence Vice President, and he would become acting president on Jan 20). That’s the possible endgame I saw early on, which is why the Dec 14 vote is so critical. I will now write up a brief memo on President of the Senate.

Next came a flurry of emails.

That same day, Chesebro allegedly emailed Troupis to say he was “working on a memo” about the “endgame in Congress,” according to the complaint. Troupis allegedly wrote Chesebro back to ask: “Is everything under control for tomorrow electors vote?” To which Chesebro allegedly responded in the affirmative was that “[o]ther states are all fine.” Finally, prosecutors allege, Troupis wrote back: “Good. Just want to be sure we preserve our options here without regard to what Wi S Crt rules.”

On Dec. 14, 2020, the Wisconsin Supreme Court rejected the challenge.

As Law&Crime previously reported, Troupis was the lead attorney in the lawsuit that made its way to Wisconsin’s highest state court — and very nearly prevailed. In that case, the high court rejected Trump’s effort to disqualify ballots in two, and only two, diverse counties — Milwaukee and Dane — where the majority of the Badger State’s Black residents live. That rejection, however, was only carried by a 4-3 vote.

Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Jill Karofsky had the following admonition for Trump’s lawyer during oral arguments in December 2020: “This lawsuit, Mr. Troupis, smacks of racism.”

A lawsuit filed by Wisconsin voters and Democrats in 2022 against Chesebro and Troupis was settled in December 2023 — with each man averring they will never again engage in the same or similar activity, but otherwise not admitting any fault, wrongdoing, or liability.

In March, 1,400 pages worth of texts and emails between Chesebro and Troupis were released from the settled lawsuit. The documents reveal efforts to keep the fake electors scheme secret and to create a “cloud of confusion” as election overthrow efforts ramped up.

More Law&Crime coverage: Trump campaign PAC paid legal fees to law firm representing co-defendant and ‘coup memo’ author in RICO case

Chesebro authored some so-called “coup memos” that offered legal opinions on how Trump’s team could overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election in a “constitutionally defensible manner.”

Charged by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis over his role, Chesebro pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit filing false documents, a felony, on Oct. 20, 2023. Prosecutors recommended five years probation, community service, and the payment of restitution.

Before his plea deal, the pro-Trump attorney faced time behind bars as he was charged with one count of Georgia’s homegrown RICO act, one count of conspiracy to commit impersonating a public officer, two counts of conspiracy to commit forgery in the first degree, two counts of conspiracy to commit false statements and writing, and one count of conspiracy to commit filing false documents.

More Law&Crime coverage: Pro-Trump lawyer who already pleaded guilty to election felony in Georgia ‘needs’ to travel to other states, ‘meet with counsel’ as fake elector probes ramp up

Roman is also charged in the Georgia case — where he is currently part of a group of defendants attempting to have the district attorney’s office disqualified before the state’s court of appeal. Troupis, a former Dane County judge, currently serves on a Wisconsin judicial advisory panel.

Matt Naham and Brandi Buchman contributed to this report.

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