The sole opportunity for Trump’s attorneys to prevent the certification of the 2020 election was Justice Thomas.
The sole opportunity for Trump’s attorneys to prevent the certification of the 2020 election was Justice Thomas. According to documents recently made available to congressional investigators, Donald Trump’s legal team believed that a direct appeal to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas was their greatest chance of preventing Joe Biden from winning the 2020 presidential election.
In an email to Trump’s legal team dated December 31, 2020, Trump’s attorney Kenneth Chesebro stated, “We want to structure things so that Thomas may be the one to issue some sort of stay or other circuit justice decision claiming Georgia is in reasonable dispute.” Chesebro asserted that Thomas would represent “our sole opportunity to obtain a favorable judicial judgment by January 6,” which would cause the Georgia count in Congress to be delayed.
Later that morning, an attorney named John Eastman answered, “I suppose I agree with this,” saying that a decision in Thomas’ or other justices’ favor would “kick the Georgia legislature into overdrive” and aid in overturning the election results.
The emails were a part of a group of eight that POLITICO was able to collect that Eastman had attempted to keep from the select committee on January 6 but that a judge ultimately ordered turned up because he believed they were proof of possible crimes by both Eastman and Trump. The select committee received them last week from Eastman’s attorneys, but they have not been made available to the general public.
The sole opportunity for Trump’s attorneys to prevent the certification of the 2020 election was Justice Thomas. The emails were formatted incorrectly, omitting “i”s and “ls,” when they were presented to the committee. For clarity’s sake, POLITICO has added the missing letters.
The Trump legal team’s calculations appeared to take into account the fact that Thomas is the justice designated to handle emergency situations arising out of Georgia and would have been the one to hear any urgent appeal of Trump’s lawsuit to the Supreme Court.
The so-called circuit justices’ decisions typically serve as stopgap measures to maintain the status quo until the full Supreme Court weighs in, but the Trump lawyers hoped a favorable ruling from Thomas would inspire Congress, the then-Vice President Mike Pence, or state GOP-controlled legislatures to prevent the final certification of Joe Biden’s victory.
Chesebro added, “[I] think it’s our greatest bet at delaying the count of a state in Congress if we can just get this issue pending before the Supreme Court by Jan. 5, ideally with something good written by a judge or justice, hopefully, Thomas.”
Chesebro’s emails kept outlining specific suggestions for delegitimizing Biden’s victory on January 6 and beyond.
Chesebro suggested pushing Senate Republicans to filibuster for a long enough period of time to prevent the joint session of Congress from convening on January 6 by going beyond the time allotted for debate. Additionally, he discussed how Trump supporters could utilize the courts’ inaction to increase political pressure against Biden’s inauguration.
It’s difficult to be overly optimistic about what will transpire on January 6, but a lot can happen in the 13 days that remain, and Chesebro wrote to Trump campaign lawyer Justin Clark on December 24, 2020, “I think having as many states still under review (both judicially and in state legislatures) is ideal.” It’s unknown if Clark answered Chesebro’s message, or even if he did.
The Jan. 6 select committee and prosecutors in Fulton County, Georgia, who are looking into Trump’s attempts to rig the election there, have both closely examined the New York-based attorney.
The Trump team’s efforts at the supreme court had very little success. The court’s Dec. 11 decision rejecting Texas’ request to challenge the results of the elections in four other states was one of the few overt indications of dissent among the justices. In a brief statement, Thomas and Justice Samuel Alito said they would have recognized the case’s jurisdiction but joined the other justices in denying Texas any relief.
Eastman, who worked as Thomas’s former assistant and had written to Thomas’s wife, Virginia, in the days leading up to January 6, was the mastermind behind Trump’s last-ditch attempt to rig the 2020 election.
When he presided over the Jan. 6 session of Congress, a legally needed procedure to count electoral votes and certify the election results, Eastman played a key role in persuading Pence to independently sabotage the 2020 election. On January 4 and 5, Eastman spoke with Pence’s staff and expressed his belief that Thomas would likely back their efforts.
Investigators from Congress turned their attention to Ginni Thomas after a text message surfaced showing her pleading with Mark Meadows, Trump’s chief of staff, to keep working to keep Trump in office even if he would lose the 2020 election. She had a fall interview with the panel that will decide on Jan. 6.
The emails also shed new light on an attempt to get Trump to sign papers related to a federal lawsuit filed on December 31, 2020, challenging the results of the Georgia election, including serious concerns Trump’s lawyers expressed at the time that the president might end up in legal trouble if he attested to the voter fraud data it contained.
Mitchell then revealed that she was looking into the prospect of using a Zoom call to have a notary confirm Trump’s signature.
According to court documents, the White House’s assistant executive clerk William McCathran finally attested to Trump’s signature.
Trump’s signature was essential to Judge David Carter of the U.S. District Court’s Oct. 19 decision requiring the emails to be made public to the House Committee on Jan. 6th. The sole opportunity for Trump’s attorneys to prevent the certification of the 2020 election was Justice Thomas. Carter claimed that despite proof that he had been informed that many of the fraud allegations in the lawsuit were untrue, Trump signed the verification to a federal court complaint under penalty of perjury.
Carter, a Clinton appointee, stated that the messages “indicate that President Trump knew that the particular statistics of voter fraud were inaccurate yet proceeded to flaunt those numbers, both in court and to the public.”