Lawyer Paid By RNC Was Among Those Engaged In ‘Legitimate Political Discourse’

Brad Carver is one of the 16 Georgia Republicans who falsely claimed to be “duly elected and qualified electors” on an official document.
A slate of fake "electors" nominated by the Republican Party of Georgia cast their own electoral votes for Donald Trump at the Georgia state Capitol on Dec. 14, 2020, at the same time the official Democratic electors were casting their votes for Joe Biden in another part of the Capitol.
A slate of fake "electors" nominated by the Republican Party of Georgia cast their own electoral votes for Donald Trump at the Georgia state Capitol on Dec. 14, 2020, at the same time the official Democratic electors were casting their votes for Joe Biden in another part of the Capitol.
AP Photo/Ben Gray

WASHINGTON ― Among those the Republican National Committee said are being targeted by the House Jan. 6 committee for participating in “legitimate political discourse” is one of Donald Trump’s fake “electors” from Georgia, a lawyer whose firm the RNC has paid $81,000 in recent months to defend new voting restrictions in that state.

Brad Carver wound up signing the false certification that he was among the “duly elected and qualified” Electoral College electors on Dec. 14, 2020, when four out of the 16 in Trump’s designated slate failed to show up at the appointed time and Carver stepped in for one of them. The actions of the 16 signatories are now under review by the U.S. Department of Justice and, potentially, the district attorney of Fulton County, where the Trump electors staged a ceremony to sign the paperwork they then sent up to Congress and the National Archives.

Carver did not respond to HuffPost’s queries. Court records show he is representing the RNC, the Georgia Republican Party, the National Republican Senatorial Committee and the National Republican Congressional Committee in a lawsuit challenging a new law that tightens voting rules.

Federal Election Commission filings show that his firm, Hall Booth Smith PC, received four payments from the RNC between Sept. 29, 2021, and Dec. 8, 2021, totaling $80,668.

Georgia’s state Republican chairman, David Shafer, was also among Georgia’s signatories on Dec. 14. He is one of six active RNC members and two former members among the 59 Trump electors potentially facing criminal charges for falsely claiming to cast Electoral College ballots for Trump from five states won by Democrat Joe Biden.

The other RNC members are Tyler Bowyer and Kelli Ward, the committeeman and state chair from Arizona; Kathy Berden, the committeewoman from Michigan; and Michael McDonald and James DeGraffenreid, the state chair and committeeman from Nevada. In addition, Andrew Hitt and Mary Buestrin, the past chair and past committeewoman from Wisconsin, are also among the 59.

Another 20 Republicans from Pennsylvania and five from New Mexico also signed Electoral College certifications, but added language explaining that they would only be actual electors in the event that a court ruling or other legal proceeding reversed the election result in their state.

RNC members who spoke on condition of anonymity said it was the exposure of their own colleagues and staff to criminal penalties and hefty legal bills that let last’s week censure of Reps. Liz Cheney (Wyo.) and Adam Kinzinger (Ill.) pass with overwhelming support. That resolution condemns their membership on the House Jan. 6 committee, calling it “a Democrat-led persecution of ordinary citizens engaged in legitimate political discourse.”

The original resolution was authored by David Bossie, a Trump campaign adviser in both 2016 and 2020 who is now an RNC member from Maryland. Trump has been attacking Cheney and Kinzinger as well as every member of Congress who supported his impeachment because of his incitement of the Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the Capitol.

Bossie’s initial language instructed House GOP leaders to expel both Cheney and Kinzinger from the GOP caucus, but other RNC members insisted that it be watered down so as not to put House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy on the spot. In the course of revisions, though, the phrase “legitimate political discourse” was added. RNC members told HuffPost on condition of anonymity that it was referring to those Trump electors ― particularly Michigan’s Berden, a friend of McDaniel’s ― and others, including RNC staff, who were not involved in the attack on the Capitol.

That explanation, however, ignores how central an element the fake electors were to Trump’s scheme to overturn the election and remain in power. On the morning of Dec. 14, 2020, as both the real electors and the seven fake Trump slates were meeting around the country, top White House aide Stephen Miller told Fox News: “As we speak, an alternate slate of electors in the contested states is going to vote and we are going to send those results to Congress.”

According to a plan outlined by Trump legal adviser John Eastman, the existence of the “competing” slates from the seven states would enable then-Vice President Mike Pence to ignore the ballots from those states entirely and declare Trump the winner.

In any event, the resolution itself lacked any context and as written encompasses even members of the Trump mob who attacked police officers with flagpoles and chemical spray that day. A broad range of Republicans have criticized the resolution as inappropriate, including Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell and Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, who also happens to be McDaniel’s uncle.

The Georgia law, known as SB 202, unwinds some rules implemented to make voting easier during the COVID-19 pandemic, prohibits elections officials from sending out unsolicited mail ballots, and imposes stiff penalties on civic groups if they do not follow strict guidelines on registering voters. The law has also attracted a challenge from the U.S. Justice Department.

Trump, despite losing the election by 7 million votes nationally and 306-232 in the Electoral College, became the first president in more than two centuries of elections to refuse to hand over power peacefully. His incitement of the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol ― his last-ditch attempt to remain in office ― killed five, including one police officer, injured another 140 officers, and led to four police suicides.

He is now under investigation by federal and state officials in multiple jurisdictions.

New York state Attorney General Letitia James has been conducting a civil probe of his family business, while the district attorney in Manhattan has been running a criminal investigation.

Meanwhile, the district attorney in Atlanta’s Fulton County has impaneled a special grand jury just to focus on Trump’s attempt to coerce state officials to “find” enough votes to overturn his loss to Biden in Georgia.

And the House Jan. 6 committee has been subpoenaing more and more current and former Trump aides to determine his precise role in that day’s events, while the Department of Justice has confirmed that it is investigating at least one element of Trump’s scheme to remain in power: the submission of fake Trump “electors” in states that Biden won.

At a Jan. 29 rally, Trump asked his followers to stage “the biggest protests we have ever had in Washington, D.C., in New York, in Atlanta and elsewhere” if prosecutors came after him, “because our country and our elections are corrupt.”

Despite this, Trump remains the dominant figure in the Republican Party and is openly speaking about running for the presidency again in 2024.

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