Donald Trump’s lawyer Ken Cheseboro (Talking Points Memo/Getty)
An internal Trump campaign memorandum confirms the “fake elector” plot to overturn the 2020 Presidential election.
The New York Times has obtained the plan to use false slates of electors, replacing the legally-chosen representatives of Joe Biden. The memo — dated December 6, 2020, almost five weeks after the vote — was mentioned but not published in last week’s four-count felony indictment of Trump. The memo was written by Trump’s lawyer Ken Cheseboro, one of the six unnamed co-conspirators.
Cheseboro argued that even if the plan was found to be illegal, it would focus attention on Trump’s unsupported claims of voter fraud and “buy the Trump campaign more time to win litigation that would deprive Biden of electoral votes and/or add to Trump’s column”.
Chesebro set out a strategy to explain why pro-Trump electors were meeting in states where Biden had been declared the winner. The campaign would describe the gatherings as “a routine measure that is necessary to ensure” that the “correct” electoral slate could be counted by Congress if courts or legislatures concluded that Trump had actually won the states.
In November, the lawyer had previewed the approach, suggesting it for the swing state of Wisconsin. He claimed the fake electors would safeguard Trump’s rights if he later won a court battle and was certified as the winner of the state’s 10 electors.
In the December 6 memorandum, Chesebro expanded the plan:
I recognize that what I suggest is a bold, controversial strategy, and that there are many reasons why it might not end up being executed on Jan. 6. But as long as it is one possible option, to preserve it as a possibility it is important that the Trump-Pence electors cast their electoral votes on Dec. 14.
Prosecutors said the plan was part of the basis for charges against Trump — conspiracy to defraud the United States and conspiracy against rights — as it sought “a fake controversy that would derail the proper certification of Biden as President-elect”.
Three days later, Chesebro set out specific instructions to create the fraudulent electors in multiple states.
Without revealing the memoranda, the lawyer said in a June 2022 interview, “There was good reason to argue that under Article II, that Biden had not legitimately won the electoral votes. I’m not saying that Trump deserved to win in each state, I’m saying it was legitimate to argue under Article II that there was a problem.”
The plot was initially blocked by State Governors and legislatures who, resisting Trump’s personal pressure, refused to throw out the voting results and Biden’s electors.
Another Trump lawyer and co-conspirator, John Eastman, revised the plan for Vice President Mike Pence to bring in Trump’s fake electors on January 6, 2021, as Congress gathered to certify Biden as the 46th President.
That was stymied by Pence’s refusal to violate the Constitution, leading Trump to criticize him in a speech outside the White House and to encourage his supporters to halt the Congressional proceedings. Within an hour, Trump supporters stormed the Capitol.