Georgia GOP chairman tries to evade indictment by throwing Trump's team under the bus

Lawyers for David Shafer say he formed fake elector group on “repeated and detailed advice of legal counsel”

By Gabriella Ferrigine

Staff Writer

Published May 9, 2023 1:04PM (EDT)

Donald Trump (PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP via Getty Images)
Donald Trump (PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP via Getty Images)

Attorneys for Georgia GOP Chairman David Shafer claimed that he should not face charges of the 2020 fake elector scheme because he was acting at the behest of lawyers working for former President Donald Trump.

Shafer's legal team, in a letter sent to Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis last week, argued that their client was following "repeated and detailed advice of legal counsel" when he assembled a group of "contingent" Georgia electors and acted as one himself, thereby "eliminating any possibility of criminal intent or liability."

Willis and a team of prosecutors are embroiled in an ongoing investigation into efforts to flip the results of the 2020 election in Georgia. Willis opened the investigation in early 2021 after the revelation of a phone call between Trump and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. In the call, Trump suggested that the election official could "find" the 11,780 votes needed to overturn the state election. CNN reported that she plans to announce possible charges against the former president and his supporters sometime this summer. 

Shafer is under fire for his role in attempting to advance alternate groups of electors in order to block the certification of President Joe Biden's win. Sources told CNN that Shafer is among those slated to be potentially indicted by Willis.

The letter from Shafer's team said that he was given "very direct, detailed legal advice on the procedure he should follow, and he followed those instructions to the letter."

"I believe that any fair-minded person, with possession of all the facts, would conclude that Mr. Shafer and the other presidential elector nominees acted lawfully and appropriately," the document states.

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A court filing last week indicated that at least eight of the "fake" electors in Georgia have been granted immunity in Willis's probe, after agreeing to interviews with prosecutors.

"Based on the details in the actual immunity offers that addressed some of counsel's previous concerns and counsel's current assessment of the risks and benefits of the immunity offers, all eight of the electors who were offered immunity accepted," the filing reads.

By Gabriella Ferrigine

Gabriella Ferrigine is a staff writer at Salon. Originally from the Jersey Shore, she moved to New York City in 2016 to attend Columbia University, where she received her B.A. in English and M.A. in American Studies. Formerly a staff writer at NowThis News, she has an M.A. in Magazine Journalism from NYU and was previously a news fellow at Salon.

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Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Brief David Shafer Donald Trump Fani Willis Politics