Former Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows pleads not guilty in Arizona's fake elector case

Mark Meadows at the White House, Oct. 21, 2020, in Washington. Meadows and another staffer pleaded not guilty Friday to charges in connection to efforts to overturn former President Donald Trump's election loss in Arizona.

Mark Meadows at the White House, Oct. 21, 2020, in Washington. Meadows and another staffer pleaded not guilty Friday to charges in connection to efforts to overturn former President Donald Trump's election loss in Arizona. (Alex Brandon, Associated Press)


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PHOENIX — Former Donald Trump presidential chief of staff Mark Meadows and Trump 2020 Election Day operations director Michael Roman pleaded not guilty Friday in Phoenix to nine felony charges for their roles in an effort to overturn Trump's Arizona election loss to Joe Biden.

Meadows and Roman appeared by videoconference for separate brief hearings before Maricopa County Superior Court Commissioner Shellie Smith, who set an Oct. 31 trial date.

Meadows and Roman spoke during the hearings only to respond to Smith's questions with their names and birthdates. Their attorneys spoke for them to enter their pleas of not guilty.

The indictment alleges Meadows worked with other Trump campaign members to submit names of fake electors from Arizona and other states to Congress in a bid to keep Trump in office despite his November 2020 defeat at the ballot box.

The document alleges 11 Arizona Republicans submitted paperwork falsely declaring that Trump won in Arizona. Biden won Arizona by more than 10,000 votes. The indictment also says that Meadows confided to a White House staff member in early November 2020 that Trump had lost the election.

Roman is accused in the indictment of working closely with Trump lawyers Rudy Giuliani and Boris Epshteyn and others to organize the fake electors' votes in Arizona and six other states.

Outside court, Roman's attorney, Kurt Altman, promised to fight the charges.

"Mike Roman has no connection with Arizona. Why this indictment came in the first place is beyond us," Altman told reporters. "But we're going to face the reality and defend."

Attorney Anne Chapman represented Meadows remotely during the hearing. She did not immediately return a phone call and email from The Associated Press seeking comment on her client's behalf.

Giuliani, the former New York City mayor, pleaded not guilty in May to nine felony charges stemming from his role in the fake electors effort. The Arizona indictment also includes felony charges against Trump attorneys John Eastman, Christina Bobb and Jenna Ellis.

Epshteyn, Ellis and James Lamon, another Republican who claimed Trump carried Arizona, are scheduled to enter pleas on June 18.

Meadows and Roman previously pleaded not guilty in Georgia state court to charges alleging that they participated in an illegal scheme to try to overturn the 2020 election results.

Roman was charged in Wisconsin on Tuesday with forgery for allegedly delivering that state's fake elector paperwork to a Pennsylvania congressman's staffer to get them to then-Vice President Mike Pence on Jan. 6, 2021, when Congress was certifying the results.

Other states where criminal charges have been filed related to the fake electors scheme are Michigan, Nevada and Georgia.

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Jacques Billeaud

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