At the time, the gatherings seemed a slapdash, desperate attempt to mimic President Donald Trump’s refusal to concede.
But internal campaign emails and memos revealthat the convening of the fake electors appeared to be a much more concerted strategy, intended to give Vice President Mike Pence a reason to declare the outcome of the election was somehow in doubt on Jan. 6, 2021, when he was to preside over the congressional counting of the electoral college votes.
The documents show Trump’s team pushed ahead and urged the electors to meet — then pressured Pence to cite the alternate Trump slates — even as various Trump lawyers acknowledged privately they did not have legal validity and the gatherings had not been in compliance with state laws….
The shifting internal explanations over whether the elector strategy could be considered legitimate was typified in two emails sent in late December by Eastman, a constitutional law professor who was a leading proponent of the idea. In an email sent on Dec. 19 to a California activist with whom Eastman exchanged periodic notes about the election, Eastman wrote that the electors would be “dead on arrival in Congress.” His reasoning — no state legislature had acted to certify them as valid.
Just four days later, however, Eastman wrote to other Trump advisers that he believed Pence could indeed recognize the Trump electors on Jan. 6, apparently despite their lack of state legislative certification. “The fact that we have multiple slates of electors demonstrate the uncertainty of either. That should be enough,” he wrote.
Neither a lawyer for Eastman nor a spokesman for Trump’s campaign responded to requests for comment.
The emails show some Trump advisers began strategizing just days after the election about how to construct a legal argument for advancing their own electors, even though laws in every state hold that electors are determined by the certified vote of the people.
In particular, they started mulling whether state legislatures, which in a number of key states were controlled by the GOP, could appoint Trump electors even if the certified results showed Biden won.