A Crucial Link in Trump’s Election Subversion Plot Revealed in Campaign Memo
A previously undisclosed internal campaign memo has shed light on a plot led by a lawyer aligned with President Donald J. Trump to use false slates of electors to undermine the 2020 election. Prosecutors view this memo as a key component in the evolution of the Trump team’s efforts into a criminal conspiracy. The memo, dated December 6, 2020, acknowledged from the outset that the proposed strategy was bold and likely to be rejected by the Supreme Court. However, the lawyer, Kenneth Chesebro, argued that it would serve two purposes: drawing attention to voter fraud claims and buying more time for the Trump campaign to pursue legal action and potentially gain electoral votes.
While the basic plan to use false Trump electors was already known, the newly revealed memo provides additional details about its origin and behind-the-scenes discussions. Notably, it outlines Chesebro’s suggested messaging strategy to explain the presence of pro-Trump electors in states where Biden had been declared the winner. The campaign would frame this as a routine measure taken to ensure that the correct electoral slate could be counted by Congress if subsequent court or legislative decisions favored Trump.
Development of the Plan and Link to Indictment
Chesebro had previously mentioned the idea of creating alternate electors in November, specifically in the state of Wisconsin, to safeguard Trump’s rights in case he won a court battle. However, the indictment characterizes the December 6 memo as a significant departure from that proposal, forming the basis of a criminal plot to generate a false controversy that would impede Biden’s certification as president-elect. The memo emphasizes the importance of Trump-Pence electors casting their votes on December 14 to maintain the viability of the plan.
Three days later, Chesebro prepared specific instructions for fraudulent electors in multiple states, further solidifying his involvement in the scheme. The scope of the false electors’ plan involved lawyers operating in seven states on behalf of the Trump campaign, a group of electors willing to claim Trump’s victory, and resistance from some potential electors who considered the plan either illegal or treasonous. Ultimately, this scheme became a central aspect of the indictment against Trump.
Chesebro’s Connection and Continuing Investigation
While another lawyer, John Eastman, played a more direct role and worked closely with Trump on the plan, Chesebro was one of its architects. He was initially recruited by the Trump campaign in Wisconsin to assist with legal challenges to Biden’s victory in that state. Although Chesebro is referred to as a co-conspirator in the indictment, he has not faced charges from the special counsel.
Prosecutors continue to gather evidence related to the investigation, even after charges were filed against Trump. Released emails from the House committee’s investigation revealed that Chesebro shared copies of the previously reported memos from November and December with allies involved in the false electors’ plan. However, the Dec. 6 memo was not included. This memo outlined a more audacious proposal, suggesting that Vice President Mike Pence should take the position that he alone, as president of the Senate, has the constitutional power and duty to open and count the votes. Chesebro addressed this memo to James R. Troupis, another lawyer assisting the Trump campaign in challenging Biden’s victory in Wisconsin.
In the indictment, it is revealed that Rudolph W. Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer referred to as co-conspirator 1, received Chesebro’s memo the next day. An email reviewed by The New York Times suggests that another conspirator mentioned in the indictment, co-conspirator 6, is Boris Epshteyn, a campaign strategic adviser. Mr. Epshteyn offered recommendations for lawyers in the seven states involved in the scheme.
Misrepresentation of Legal Scholarship
Chesebro cited the writings of Laurence H. Tribe, a Harvard Law School professor, to support his argument that the Electoral Count Act’s deadlines and procedures are unconstitutional. However, Tribe claimed that Chesebro misrepresented his scholarship, taking his statements out of context to suggest a broader principle that states have the power to act independently of Congress and the Electoral Count Act. Tribe clarified that his remarks were specifically focused on Florida state law. He also highlighted that Chesebro misused a constitutional treatise to bolster his claim that parts of the Electoral Count Act are unconstitutional.