State GOP chair named in latest Trump indictment, here's what we know

NOW: State GOP chair named in latest Trump indictment, here’s what we know

MADISON, Wis. (CBS 58) -- The chairman of the Wisconsin Republican Party is named in the latest indictment charging former President Donald Trump and 18 others in Georgia for their alleged roles in trying to block certification of the 2020 election.

The indictment lays out examples of Trump's co-conspirators organizing a plan to have fake Republican electors submit alternative slates in seven states Trump lost, including Wisconsin.

Prosecutors in Fulton County, Ga. cited a Dec. 2020 meeting between Trump attorney Kenneth Chesebro and Brian Schimming, who's now chairman of the Republican Party of Wisconsin.

Chesebro is also facing seven charges in Georgia, including Conspiracy to Commit Impersonating a Public Officer and Conspiracy to Commit Forgery.

This marks the second time Schimming's name was brought up related to the fake elector scheme.

During a deposition with the House committee investigating the January 6th attack at the U.S. Capitol, the state party's chair at the time, Andrew Hitt, told investigators Schimming was "brought on" to serve as a "right hand" to Trump's attorney in Wisconsin, Jim Troupis.

Schimming, who's been involved in multiple Republican campaigns with over 30 years of experience, was named chairman in December.

The state party held a virtual press conference Tuesday to counter Biden's visit to Milwaukee, but officials organizing the call did not allow any questions about Schimming being named in the inditement. Organizers took one question from a report who asked about President Biden's visit and then abruptly ended the zoom meeting.

Shortly after the event concluded, Schimming issued a statement:

"As stated previously, Republican electors met in accordance with state statutory guidelines, on the advice of attorneys, and with precedent, to preserve all legal options still pending before the courts," Schimming said. "Had the courts ruled differently, the alternate electors would have been needed.”

Hitt told the committee during his Feb. 2022 deposition that Mark Jefferson, the state party's executive director, let him know Schimming was meeting with Chesebro.

Rudy Giuliani, who is facing 13 criminal counts in Georgia, joined the meeting via phone, according to Hitt.

The Georgia indictment calls the meeting with Chesbro, Giuliani, and Schimming a meeting to "overt act in furtherance of the conspiracy." Meanwhile, the federal indictment into Trump who is accused by a federal grand jury of trying to overturn the 2020 election states some fake electors were "tricked" by Trump allies to go along with the plan.

Through testimony and text messages Hitt provided to the committee shows him and Jefferson were skeptical of the plan, but ultimately participated.

Hitt texted Jefferson, “These guys are up to no good and it's gonna fail miserably.”

Attorney General Josh Kaul has yet to say whether he will pursue state charges.

Mordecai Lee, Professor Emeritus at UW-Milwaukee, said the latest indictment is another example detailing how secretive the effort was in Wisconsin, but as to what impact it could have in the future is something he says it up for voters to decide.

"This is important to Wisconsinites because we can draw our own judgements, did what they do really nothing special, or was this something that really has to be considered serious perhaps justifying some type of prosecution," Lee said. 

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis announced Monday evening Trump and his 18 allies who were indicted on 41 criminal counts have until Friday, Aug. 25 to "voluntary surrender," which falls two days after Republicans host their first GOP primary debate in Milwaukee.

It's unclear when Trump will respond to the indictment or whether he will participate next week on the debate stage. It comes as the frontrunner has continued to downplay the benefits of showing up since he's leading in the polls.

Trump has now been charged in four separate cases involving allegations surrounding his presidency.

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