“Newly Released Messages Detail Roots of the ‘Fake Electors’ Scheme”


Just five days after Election Day in 2020, a conservative lawyer named Kenneth Chesebro emailed a former judge who was working for the Trump campaign in Wisconsin, James R. Troupis, pitching an idea for how to overturn the results.

Through litigation, Mr. Chesebro said, the Trump campaign could allege “various systemic abuses” and, with court proceedings pending, encourage legislatures to appoint “alternative” pro-Trump electors that could be certified instead of the Biden electors chosen by the voters.

“At minimum, with such a cloud of confusion, no votes from WI (and perhaps also MI and PA) should be counted, perhaps enough to throw the election to the House,” Mr. Chesebro wrote to Mr. Troupis, referring to the swing states of Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania.

Mr. Troupis quickly brought Mr. Chesebro into the Trump legal team, directed him to lay out the plans in a series of memos now central to the indictment of Donald J. Trump and a month later — with the help of Reince Priebus, the former White House chief of staff — secured a meeting with Mr. Trump at the White House.

The email is the earliest known evidence of Mr. Chesebro’s involvement in what would become known as the false elector plot. It was released Monday along with a trove of more than 1,400 pages of text messages and emails belonging to Mr. Troupis and Mr. Chesebro as they settled a lawsuit against them filed in Wisconsin.

Taken together, the documents show in new detail how the Trump campaign’s litigation strategy was not designed to win in court as much as it was designed to give cover for their political efforts. And they underscore the central role that Mr. Troupis — previously a little-known figure in the effort to overturn the election — played in furthering the plans….

Mr. Chesebro’s memos were central to the federal indictment of Mr. Trump on charges of seeking to overturn the 2020 election. They are featured as evidence of how the Trump campaign’s plans shifted from legal challenges to what prosecutors describe as a criminal plot to engineer “a fake controversy that would derail the proper certification of Biden as president-elect.”

The memos also became the basis for a strategy put forward by the conservative lawyer John Eastman and Mr. Trump that a federal judge referred to as a “coup in search of a legal theory.”

In a Nov. 19, 2020, email to Mr. Troupis, Mr. Chesebro wrote that the Trump lawyers should “pursue a shot at having two bites at the apple — ligate, hoping to ultimately win by January 6, but also use delay in litigation to try to win in the state legislature on December 8.”

Several of the documents refer to a Dec. 15, 2020, meeting of Mr. Troupis and Mr. Chesebro with Mr. Trump in the Oval Office.

“Pretty clear national people realize this wouldn’t be happening if you and reince and others hadn’t pushed it!” Mr. Chesebro wrote to Mr. Troupis two days before the White House visit.

They were told to keep the meeting secret and not bring anything for Mr. Trump to sign, the messages show.

“Reince was very explicit in his admonition that nothing about our meeting with the President can be shared with anyone,” Mr. Troupis wrote to Mr. Chesebro after.

Mr. Chesebro gave his account of the meeting to state prosecutors in Michigan investigating the fake electors plot. He said Mr. Priebus had told the men not to get Mr. Trump’s hopes up about his chances for victory, but Mr. Chesebro acknowledged he had not listened to that advice.

“We had until Jan. 6 to win,” Mr. Chesebro recalled of what he told Mr. Trump in the meeting, according to audio obtained by CNN, adding: “That got me in real trouble afterwards.”

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