The Fake Electors Plot As Basically Written By The Coen Brothers, Woodchipper Included
File:DC Capitol Storming IMG 7939.jpg - Wikimedia Commons

Kenneth Chesebro, Liz Cheney is about to make you a star! Now, call your lawyer.

Yes, friends, it's time for another episode of We Read the January 6 Committee Report So You Don't Have To. Today we'll be discussing Chapter 3: "Fake Electors and the President of the Senate Strategy." (And maybe we'll get to Chapter 4, too, God willin' and the crick don't rise.)


Episode One: January 6 Report Is Real, And It's Spectacular

Episode Two: January 6 Report: Trump Tried To Crime Boss State Legislators Into Stealing Election

The chapter centers around Trump's interaction with two lawyers, Kenneth Chesebro and John Eastman. We've all met John Eastman before, but according to White House Counsel Pat Cipollone's testimony, Eastman came to Trump's attention for his "scholarly" work on birthright citizenship (ahem), since Trump wanted to do an executive order unpersoning people born here to immigrant parents. Very on brand! As for Chesebro, he seems to have been a fairly competent practitioner who got red-pilled and weird and reactionary in middle age. Someone needs to write the definitive book on white dudes born in the 1950s and 60s, who lived through a period of profound social change and lost their damn minds when Obama got elected. Suggested title: Rupert Murdoch Stole My Dad.

Anyway! In a normal world, people like Chesebro, Eastman, and Jeff Clark would be nowhere near the levers of power. They'd be at the bowling league or Masonic lodge, harmlessly ranting like Walter Sobchak about alternate electors and Italian space lasers. But with Donald Trump in the White House, absolutely nothing was normal, so here we are!

After Trump lost the election, Eastman and Chesebro authored a series of memos outlining their scheme to substitute fake electors for the ones chosen by the voters. In a November 18 memo, Chesebro argued that it was necessary to swear in alternate slates of electors to remain viable in the event that one of the eleventy-seven electoral challenges actually succeeded in overturning the vote in one of the swing states.

Indeed, this is how the idea was sold to the people on the ground who had to be persuaded to put their names on these fake electoral certificates, potentially putting themselves on the hook for federal and state charges. As one of the fake electors, Robert Sinners, testified, “no one really cared if people were potentially putting themselves in jeopardy," adding later “we were just . . . useful idiots or rubes at that point.”

Many of the original electors dropped out. Electors in Pennsylvania got especially jumpy, since what they were doing was pretty clearly a violation of Pennsylvania law, so they asked for both indemnification from the Trump campaign in case of civil suit and a letter from a PA lawyer saying what they were doing was kosher. They got neither, but they did get a memo from Ken Chesebro, so they just went ahead and did it. YOLO!

The Wisco Gippers were a little squeamish, too. But they got over it:

When Wisconsin Republican Party Chairman Andrew Hitt was notified in late November that “the campaign wants to [sic] list of electors,” he texted his executive director that “I am def concerned about their inquiry” and that “I hope they are not planning on asking us to do anything like try and say we are only the proper electors.” On December 12th, after Hitt received a message about a phone call with Giuliani to discuss the fake elector issue, he texted a colleague: “These guys are up to no good and its [sic] gonna fail miserably.” Despite such concerns, Hitt and many other fake electors participated anyway.

The theory at its inception was that the fake electors would swear themselves in just in case some court overturned the validity of a swing state election. But that never happened, and by December 8, when it was clear that no judge in the land was buying what they were selling, Chesebro was dispensing advice on how to get as close as possible to legality when submitting a slate of fraudulent presidential electors, with the goal of having Mike Pence unilaterally recognize them.

The committee's key point here is that "President Trump oversaw it himself." This wasn't, as we (read: Liz Dye) assumed at the time, a handful of weirdos doing some shit they saw on 4chan. In fact, this was an effort spearheaded by the campaign in service of Trump's plan to remain in power after having lost the election:

On December 6th, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows forwarded a copy of Chesebro’s November 18, 2020, memo to Trump Campaign Senior Advisor Jason Miller writing, “Let’s have a discussion about this tomorrow.” Miller replied that he just engaged with reporters on the subject, to which Meadows wrote: “If you are on it then never mind the meeting. We just need to have someone coordinating the electors for states.” Miller clarified that he had only been “working the PR angle” and they should still meet, to which Meadows answered: “Got it.” Later that week, Miller sent Meadows a spreadsheet that the Trump Campaign had compiled. It listed contact information for nearly all of the 79 GOP nominees to the electoral college on the November ballot for Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. And on December 8th, Meadows received a text message from a former State legislator in Louisiana recommending that the proposed “Trump electors from AR [sic] MI GA PA WI NV all meet next Monday at their state capitols[,] [c]all themselves to order, elect officers, and cast their votes for the President. . . . Then they certify their votes and transmit that certificate to Washington.” Meadows replied: “We are.”

Donald Trump was 100 percent in the loop on this, as was the RNC:

President Trump personally called RNC Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel days before December 14th to enlist the RNC’s assistance in the scheme. President Trump opened the call by introducing McDaniel to John Eastman, who described “the importance of the RNC helping the campaign to gather these contingent electors in case any of the legal challenges that were ongoing changed the results in any of the States.” According to McDaniel, she called President Trump back soon after the call ended, letting him know that she agreed to his request and that some RNC staffers were already assisting.

And despite the insistence of Trump's lawyers and campaign manager Bill Stepien that they were on "Team Normal" and had nothing to do with Rudy and the clown car lawyers pushing lies about election fraud, it's very clear that these "normies" were perfectly willing to ride along in the back seat if it got results:

All seven of these invalid sets of electoral votes were then transmitted to Washington, DC. [Campaign operative Michael] Roman’s team member in Georgia, for example, sent him an email on the afternoon of December 14th that affirmed the following: “All votes cast, paperwork complete, being mailed now. Ran pretty smoothly.” Likewise, [Trump Campaign Associate General Counsel Joshua] Findlay updated Campaign Manager Bill Stepien and his bosses on the legal team that the Trump team’s slate in Georgia was not able to satisfy all provisions of State law but still “voted as legally as possible under the circumstances” before transmitting their fake votes toWashington, DC, by mail.

It's cool, you guys, the cosplay electors "voted as legally as possible under the circumstances." Lordy, look at these dipshits taking selfies while they did crimes.

The next day, Trump Campaign Deputy Director for Election Day Operations G. Michael Brown sent a text message to other campaign staff suggesting that he was the person who delivered the fake votes to Congress. After sending the group a photo of his face with the Capitol in the background, Brown said, “This has got to be the cover a book I write one day” and “I should probably buy [Mike] [R]oman a tie or something for sending me on this one. Hasn’t been done since 1876 and it was only 3 states that did it.”

Meanwhile, the documents from Michigan and Wisconsin didn't even make it to Congress by the statutory deadline, leading to the effort to get Senator Ron Johnson to hand-deliver them to Mike Pence.

In the end, Chesebro handed the baton to Eastman, whose early and public racism had won him influence in the White House, where he could put the squeeze on Pence to piss on the Constitution and reject the legitimate electors.

On January 1, 2021, Chesebro sent an email to Eastman and [Boris] Epshteyn that recommended that Vice President Pence derail the joint session of Congress. In it, he raised the idea of Vice President Pence declaring “that there are two competing slates of electoral votes” in several States, and taking the position that only he, or possibly Congress, could “resolve any disputes concerning them.”

And when that failed, they went to the mob. But that is a subject for another chapter.

[January 6 Committee Report]

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Liz Dye

Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.


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