How Trump’s Legal Team Organized Those Fake 2020 Electors
As the details of Donald Trump’s scheme to block the final count of electoral votes on January 6 have emerged, one item that initially seemed minor has emerged as a focus of Republican efforts. The false slates of electors put forward in seven states looked at first like little more than a stunt. Including in their ranks state Republican Party officials, along with members of both state and county governments, these false electors weren’t a random selection of people off the street. They were, in most cases, the actual electors who would have been put forward had Trump actually won those states.
It’s now clear that early on in the effort to overturn the election, these false slates of electors were identified as a critical component of the whole scheme. They were to act as the key “evidence” that the outcome in these states won by Joe Biden was actually in dispute, and give Republicans on Congress something to point to when justifying their support for Trump’s coup. To that end, Rudy Giuliani was at the center of plot, directing Trump’s legal team to get those electors in place.
Now, additional memos turned up by The New York Times demonstrate how this effort went forward in Wisconsin, working in lockstep with other legal challenges as Trump’s team sought to give the impression that a clear victory for Biden was somehow “in dispute.” Just two weeks after the election, a memo was sent out to Trump campaigns telling Republicans in Wisconsin to move ahead, gather the false electors on Dec. 14, and have them cast their invalid votes for Trump.
On Wednesday, former Department of Justice attorney Jeffery Clark—the man who Trump intended to name as attorney general for his support in the attempted coup—reportedly testified in person before the House Select Committee on January 6. It’s unclear if Clark actually said anything of value. However, if his statements went beyond, “I invoke my rights under the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution on the grounds that answering questions may incriminate me,” they very well could have included the phrase, “I was far from the only one.”
Each day seems to make it clearer that the coup plot wasn’t some passing fancy that never made it outside the White House. It was an extensive operation, planned and executed over a period of months, that involved Republicans at every possible level—along with Trump’s entire legal, campaign, and White House teams.
In this case, the push to get Wisconsin moving on electors originated from Trump attorney Kenneth Chesebro. On Nov. 18, Chesboro directed a memo to James Troupis, a Trump campaign attorney in Wisconsin. That memo (available in its entirety here) insists that gathering the electors in time for them to swear their allegiance to Trump by December 14 was critical. By that date, the electors had to meet in Madison and cast their electoral votes for Trump. The memo also gives instructions on the certificates the electors were to sign and date.
Between the time that Cheseboro first sent out his memo on November 18 and the events on December 14, Wisconsin conducted a recount and audit of the 2020 vote. That recount confirmed that President Joe Biden won the state by more than 20,000 votes. That didn’t stop them from moving ahead with the scheme.
Unlike Michigan, where Trump electors were turned away at the door and only falsely claimed to have cast their ballots in the state capitol, it seems that those in Madison did get inside long enough to carry out this mock ceremony on December 14.
Also on December 14, Chesebro and Troupis were two out of three names on a petition that Trump’s legal team sent to the U.S. Supreme Court. The petition maintains that the election in Wisconsin was invalid because “officials in Wisconsin, wrongly backed by four of the seven Justices of the Wisconsin Supreme Court, ignored statutory provisions which tightly regulate absentee balloting.”
More specifically, the petition claimed that “this resulted in the counting of at least 50,125 absentee ballots” in specific areas. Crucially, Trump’s team asked the court to look on the votes in these “heavily Democrat areas” (because even in a petition to the Supreme Court, Republicans are incapable of saying “Democratic”), but did not note that even larger numbers of mail-in ballots had come from areas of the state that Trump won.
When this same argument was taken before the Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Rebecca Dallet, “noted that Mr. Troupis had not sought to invalidate votes in Wisconsin’s 70 other counties but had focused only on the ‘most nonwhite, urban’ parts of the state.” Justice Jill Karofsky was even more direct in saying that this challenge “smacks of racism.”
The petition to the U.S. Supreme Court asked that the court “set aside the election result in Wisconsin, as not produced in the ‘Manner’ directed by the Legislature, and hence as ‘failed’” and to “afford the Wisconsin Legislature explicit statutory authority to appoint presidential electors to represent Wisconsin.” Those electors were, of course, to be the Republicans who gathered on December 14 to pledge their votes to Trump.
The Supreme Court rejected this request, along with another team-up between Cheseboro and Troupis asking the court to validate all the fake electors across six states.
Versions of this scheme now appear on documents from attorneys Rudy Giuliani, John Eastman, Jenna Ellis, and Jeffery Clark in addition to Troupis and Chesebro. A PowerPoint presentation featuring the role of the fake electors in justifying actions on January 6 was given to Republican members of Congress by Phil Waldron.
Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos
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