Trump lawyers saw Judge Thomas as ‘only chance’ to stop certification of 2020 election

The messages were part of a batch of eight emails – obtained by POLITICO – that Eastman had sought to withhold from the Jan. 6 select committee, but which a judge ordered released anyway, describing them as evidence of probable crimes committed by Eastman and Trump. They were forwarded to the select committee by Eastman’s lawyers last week, but they have not been made public.

Thomas is the judge assigned to handle emergency cases arising out of Georgia and would have been the one to receive any urgent appeals from Trump’s lawsuit to the Supreme Court – a fact that seemed to be part of the calculation of Trump’s legal team .

Rulings by so-called circuit judges are usually stopgap measures aimed at preserving the status quo until the full Supreme Court intervenes, but Trump lawyers hoped a favorable order from Thomas would embolden the government-controlled legislatures. the GOP, Congress — or the vice president at the time. Mike Pence – to block the final certification of Joe Biden’s victory.

In another email from December 31Chesebro has explicitly laid out this strategy:

“[I]If we can just put this case on hold in the Supreme Court by January 5, ideally with something positive written by a judge or a judge, I hope Thomas, I think that’s our best chance of delay a state’s count to Congress,” Chesebro said.

Trump’s team’s effort found virtually no traction at the high court. The only outward signs of dissension among the judges were slight, as an order of December 11 where the court rejected an offer from Texas to challenge the vote count in four other states. Thomas and Judge Samuel Alito released a brief statement saying they would have accepted jurisdiction over the case, but joined other judges in denying Texas any relief.

Eastman, an architect of Trump’s latest bid to overthrow the 2020 election, was once committed to Thomas and had corresponded with his wife, Virginiein the weeks leading up to January 6.

Eastman played a pivotal role in pressuring Pence to single-handedly overturn the 2020 election when he presided over the Jan. 6 session of Congress — a legally required procedure for counting electoral votes and certifying election results. elections. In conversations with Pence staff on Jan. 4 and 5, Eastman suggested he thought Thomas would likely support their efforts.

Ginni Thomas became the target of congressional investigators after a text message emerged showing her urging Trump’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows, to continue his efforts to keep Trump in office despite losing the 2020 election. interviewed the January 6 panel earlier in the fall.

The emails also shed new light in an effort to get Trump to sign documents related to a Dec. 31, 2020, federal lawsuit challenging Georgia’s election results, including serious concerns Trump’s lawyers have expressed during this chaotic time that Trump may endanger legal if it attested to the data on electoral fraud it contains.

“I have no doubt that some aggressive DA or US attorney somewhere will sue both the President and his attorneys once all the dust settles on this,” Eastman wrote in a two-way email. other private attorneys working on Trump’s election challenges, Alex Kaufman and Kurt Hibert.

After some back and forth, including with Trump’s White House attorney Eric Herschmann, the attorneys agreed to redact some of the specific numbers before Trump swore on the accuracy of the lawsuit.

But they also debated whether the federal complaint should “incorporate by reference” voter fraud data included in a prior state-level lawsuit. Eastman warned that since the state’s complaint was filed, the evidence had refuted some of the voter fraud data it contained — and that Trump’s pointing to the earlier data would be wrong.

“I know it’s late in the day, but should we incorporate this complaint by reference?” Eastman wondered.

It’s unclear how the other attorney responded to Eastman. But in a separate email chain with additional attorneys, an intensive effort was underway to get the court documents to Trump so they could be signed and notarized in time to file the lawsuit that evening.

Trump, they were informed, was on a plane to DC and they needed him to sign and notarize the document. Trump’s attorney, Cleta Mitchell, said Trump’s personal assistant informed her that they did not have access to a notary until Monday.

“And now?” she wondered. “Can we find a way to file this without verification?

“Is there anyone they can call to come to the White House who is a notary?” Chris Gardner, a Virginia attorney and former House GOP aide assisting the president’s legal team, asked in an email sent just before 4 p.m. on New Year’s Eve. “I don’t know how you class without it.” Presidential trip to a UPS store? »

Mitchell later said she was exploring the possibility of having a notary public certify Trump’s signature via a Zoom call.

Court records show that Trump’s signature was ultimately witnessed by William McCathran, an assistant clerk working for the White House.

Trump’s signature was essential for US District Court Judge David Carter’s Oct. 19 ruling that the emails are to be released to the House committee on January 6. Carter said Trump signed verification of a complaint in federal court under penalty of perjury despite evidence he was told that many of the fraud allegations in the lawsuit were inaccurate.

The posts “show that President Trump knew the specific voter fraud numbers were wrong, but continued to tout those numbers, both in court and to the public,” wrote Carter, a presidential appointee. Bill Clinton.

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