James Renner, a Michigan Republican who played a role as a fake elector for Donald J. Trump, has come forward expressing deep regret about his involvement.
The New York Times obtained a recording of Renner’s interview with the state attorney general’s office, revealing his remorse and shedding light on the controversial actions of fake electors in the state, as reported by DNYUZ on Wednesday, December 27.
Renner, 77, stands as the lone Trump elector in Michigan to reach an agreement with Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel.
Criminal charges were filed in July against all 16 fake Trump electors in the state, but charges against Renner were dropped in October after he agreed to cooperate with authorities
The former state trooper and retired businessman, who was a late substitution to the elector roster in December 2020, admitted that he realized the gravity of his actions after reviewing testimony from the House investigation of the January 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.
Renner voiced his dismay, stating, “I felt that I had been walked into a situation that I shouldn’t have ever been involved in.”
Renner’s lawyer, Matthew G. Borgula, declined to comment on the matter.
Michigan is not the only state dealing with the fallout of fake electors. Charges have been brought against such individuals in Georgia, Michigan, and Nevada, with investigations underway in other states, including Arizona and New Mexico.
Notably, in Georgia, prosecutors have extended their scope beyond the electors, charging former President Trump and key allies over efforts to overturn the 2020 election results.
In Michigan, Attorney General Nessel has focused on charging the electors, but during Renner’s interview, investigators probed into other individuals, including Shawn Flynn, a lawyer associated with the Trump campaign, and Rudolph W. Giuliani, Trump’s former personal lawyer. The investigation remains open, and it’s unclear if Trump and others have legal exposure in Michigan.
Renner, a local party activist in Clinton County, was unfamiliar with the intricacies of being an elector and was asked to fill in at the last minute. The Trump electors, unable to convene in the Capitol due to Michigan being certified for Joseph R. Biden, Jr., ultimately met in the basement of the state Republican headquarters.
During a pretrial hearing, Laura Cox, former chairwoman of the state Republican Party, testified that language drafted for the electors was meant to emphasize their contingency role, but the Trump campaign did not adhere to those instructions.
Renner, who claimed to know nothing about the electoral process initially, expressed that he began studying House transcripts and official procedures after being sued in civil court in January. Alarmed by what he discovered, he realized that the process he participated in was not legitimate.
With charges dropped against Renner as part of his cooperation agreement, Attorney General Nessel’s ongoing investigation suggests that Michigan’s legal battles from the 2020 presidential election are far from over.
Pretrial hearings for the electors are scheduled into February, with the state’s presidential primary approaching on February 27.
In a candid statement to investigators, Renner revealed his deep disappointment, stating, “I am very upset, I don’t show it, but I am,” emphasizing that feeling “betrayed is an understatement.” The repercussions of fake electors continue to unfold, highlighting the complex aftermath of the 2020 election.