WASHINGTON — An attorney advising President Donald Trump claimed in an email after Election Day 2020 to understand a “heated battle” among Supreme Court justices over whether to hear arguments about the president’s attempts to to undo his defeat in the polls, two people said. said on the email.
The attorney, John Eastman, made the statement in a Dec. 24, 2020 conversation with a Wisconsin attorney and Trump campaign officials about whether or not to file legal documents they hoped would get four judges to agree to a lawsuit. Wisconsin election case.
“So the odds aren’t based on the legal merits, but on an assessment of the judges’ backbones, and I understand there’s a heated battle going on,” Eastman wrote, according to those briefed on the content of the email. -mail. Referring to the process that requires at least four judges to hear a case, he added: “For those who want to do their duty, we need to help them by getting them a Wisconsin cert petition to to add to the mix.”
Wisconsin attorney Kenneth Chesebro replied that “The odds of action before Jan. 6 will improve as judges begin to fear ‘wild’ chaos will ensue on Jan. 6 unless they rule by then anyway. “
Their exchange took place five days after Trump called on his supporters to attend a “protest” at the Ellipse near the White House on Jan. 6, 2021, the day Congress would confirm the number of electoral votes confirming Joe’s victory. Biden. “Be there. Go wild!” Trump wrote on Twitter.
The previously undisclosed exchange is part of a group of emails obtained by the House Selection Committee investigating the Jan. 6 riots in the Capitol by a mob of Trump supporters.
Chesebro’s comment that the judges were more open to hearing a case if they feared chaos was striking because of its connection to the potential for the kind of mafia scene that emerged weeks later in the Capitol.
And Eastman’s email, if taken at face value, raised the question of how he would have known about the internal tensions between the judges over the handling of election cases. Eastman had been a clerk for Judge Clarence Thomas.
The commission also reviews emails between Eastman and Thomas’ wife, Virginia Thomas. She was an outspoken Trump supporter, and in the post-election day period sent a barrage of text messages to the Trump White House urging efforts to reverse the outcome and supported several attempts to get Trump into office. to keep.
It was not immediately clear when the communication between Thomas and Eastman took place or what they were discussing. The existence of the emails between Eastman and Thomas was previously reported by The Washington Post†
A federal judge recently ordered Eastman to turn over documents from the post-election period in November 2020, when he met with conservative groups to discuss the fight against the election results.
After internally debating whether or not to seek an interview with Virginia Thomas, committee members have said in recent weeks that they don’t see her actions central to plans to reverse the election.
Rep. Elaine Luria, D-Va., a member of the committee, told NBC News last weekend that Thomas “was not the focus of this investigation.”
But her contact with Eastman could add a new dimension to the investigation.
A federal judge has already ruled in a civil suit that Trump and Eastman were “more likely than not” to have committed two felonies, including conspiracy to defraud the American people, in their efforts to undo the election.
Chesebro and attorneys for Eastman and Virginia Thomas did not respond to requests for comment.
Word of the exchanges between Eastman, Chesebro and the campaign attorneys emerged as the House committee geared up for a public hearing Thursday to present new details of Trump and Eastman’s intense pressure campaign against Vice President Mike Pence, whose panel says it contributed directly to the violent siege of Congress.
The public hearing, the panel’s third this month, outlining the steps Trump took to try to undo the 2020 election, is scheduled for 1 p.m. team scrambled to try and protect him from the crowd.
The email exchange between Eastman and Chesebro included a request, which has apparently been denied, that the Trump campaign would pay for the effort to get a new Supreme Court case. In the emails, Chesebro made it clear that he didn’t think the chances of success were high, but he insisted on trying, explaining why he claimed the election was void.
Eastman said he and Chesebro are “of the same mind” and the legal arguments are “rock solid”, before going on to describe what he said, the divisions among the judges and the benefits of giving another chance to to participate in an election event.
In recent weeks, the court had rejected two other attempts to consider election-related lawsuits filed by Trump’s allies.
Chesebro then replied, according to the people briefed on the exchange, “I don’t have the personal insight John has of the four judges who are probably the most upset about what’s going on in the different states, who may want to intervene, so I must make it clear that I am not disregarding John’s estimate.”
He went on to agree that “putting this on the record gives more ammunition to the judges fighting in court to intervene.”
“I think the chances of action before January 6 will become more favorable if the judges start to fear that there will be some ‘wild’ chaos on January 6 unless they rule by then, anyway,” he said. “While that factor on the merits could be against us. The easiest way to quell chaos would be to rule against us — our side would accept that outcome as legitimate.
Chesebro concluded: “You miss 100% of the photos you don’t take. A campaign that believes it has actually won the election would petition as long as it is plausible and the resources are not too great.”
In the weeks following the election, Chesebro wrote a series of memos supporting a plan to send so-called deputy voters to Congress for certification. Just over two weeks after Election Day, Chesebro sent a memo to James Troupis, another attorney for the Trump campaign in Wisconsin, with a plan to name pro-Trump voters in the state, which Biden won.
Chesebro also sent an email on December 13, 2020 to Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal attorney who was then in charge of legal efforts to reverse the election results. In it, he encouraged Pence to “firmly take the position that he, and he alone, is entrusted with the constitutional responsibility of not only opening the votes, but also of counting them — including making a judgment about what to do.” do when there are conflicting voices. †
That idea took root with Trump, who made a lengthy effort to convince Pence that he could block or delay congressional certification of Biden’s January 6 victory.
Thursday’s House committee hearing will include testimony from J. Michael Luttig, a conservative former judge who advised Pence that Trump’s pressure on the vice president to unilaterally invalidate the election results was unconstitutional and that he was not agreed to the plan.
Also on the program is Greg Jacob, Pence’s top attorney at the White House, who has provided the committee with crucial evidence about the role of Eastman, who admitted in an email exchange with Jacob that his plan to reverse the election was “violating” was under federal law.
The committee is also expected to play video of an interview it recorded with Pence’s chief of staff Marc Short. A day before the mob violence, Short became so concerned about Trump’s actions that he warned a Secret Service agent that the president would publicly turn on the vice president, which could put Pence at a security risk.
The commission is not expected to show any of the new emails it received Thursday about Virginia Thomas, according to two people familiar with the presentation.
Thomas, known as Ginni, is a conservative political activist who became a close ally of Trump during his presidency. After he lost the election, she sent a series of messages to Trump’s last chief of staff Mark Meadows, Arizona lawmakers and others urging the election to be annulled.
The Jan. 6 committee presented the televised hearings as a series of movie chapters detailing how Trump tried to stay in power. After an initial prime-time hearing that drew more than 20 million viewers, in which the panel tried to determine that the former president was central to the plot, investigators turned their second hearing into how Trump was spreading the lie of a stolen election.
The commission is expected to set out on Thursday some of its findings about the plot involving pro-Trump voters. The panel will present evidence that White House counsel also concluded that the vice president had no legal authority to throw out legitimate electoral votes for the fake voters Trump’s team had put forward.
Investigators will show how Trump was informed his plans were illegal, but he pushed through them anyway, committee officials said.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.