Text messages shed new light on scope of fake electors plot after 2020 election

Right-wing attorney Kenneth Chesebro, who helped devise the Trump campaign’s fake electors plot, continued proposing ways to overturn the 2020 presidential election even after the US Capitol attack on January 6, 2021, according to texts and emails made public Monday as part of a lawsuit.

The texts also reveal that an attorney for Donald Trump claimed to have sent a memo to the White House – “the real decision makers” – about how to carry out the fake electors plot across the country.

The new materials were disclosed after Chesebro and former Trump lawyer Jim Troupis, who are both from Wisconsin, settled a lawsuit brought by Wisconsin’s real Democratic electors from 2020. These revelations build on what is known about Trump’s efforts to cling to power, which led to federal and state election subversion indictments. Chesebro pleaded guilty in Georgia and has been identified by CNN as one of the unindicted co-conspirators in the federal case. Trump has denied wrongdoing.

The tranche of emails, text and photos offers additional evidence that Chesebro pushed for the electors plot to move forward regardless of whether Trump won any lawsuits challenging the election results. This undercuts his recent testimony to state prosecutors in which he said the fake electors were contingent on winning the litigation.

Chesebro’s lawyer declined to comment, noting Chesebro represented himself in the civil litigation. CNN has reached out to Chesebro for comment.

Chesebro and his attorneys have maintained that all of his legal work for the Trump campaign was done in good faith and was largely rooted in historical precedent from past disputed presidential elections.

CNN also has reached out to Troupis’ lawyer for comment.

As CNN previously reported, Chesebro pushed a more aggressive version of the fake electors plot from a secret Twitter account than he later described in his interview with Michigan investigators.

Chesebro told Troupis in late 2020 that it was “really not necessary” to link the GOP electors to ongoing litigation. “Having the electors send in alternate slates of votes on Dec. 14 can pay huge dividends even if there is no litigation pending on Jan. 6,” Chesebro said in an email.

Congress could seat the pro-Trump electors “even if Trump lost all the legal cases, and none are still pending,” Chesebro wrote in the email to Troupis on December 8, 2020.

Weeks later, as CNN previously reported, Chesebro protested outside the Capitol and shadowed conspiracy theorist Alex Jones while Congress certified the election results on January 6, 2021. Previously unseen pictures made public Monday include a selfie that Chesebro took near the Capitol with Jones in the background. He also texted Troupis that he “caught a wiff” of the tear gas deployed against the pro-Trump mob.

The texts show that even after the carnage of January 6, Chesebro continued pitching ideas to Troupis for how the election could be overturned through long-shot lawsuits.

According to the text chain, he told Troupis on January 8, 2021, “The events of the last 2 days open up legal options in the states for winning rulings favorable to Trump.”

Memo sent to the White House

Chesebro wrote a series of memos in 2020 spelling out what the pro-Trump electors should do in their respective states, including one memo in early December that Troupis claimed he sent directly to the White House, according to the newly released messages.

“Jim, can you send my December 6 memo to (Trump lawyer) Justin Clark … messaging on Jan. 6 being the real date is key,” Chesebro wrote to Troupis on December 7, 2020.

“I have sent it to the White House this afternoon. The real decision makers,” Troupis responded, though he didn’t identify who at the White House received the memo.

“I also gave it to Reince so he might talk with the President,” Troupis added, referring to Trump’s former White House chief of staff Reince Priebus, who is also from Wisconsin.

Priebus, Chesebro, Troupis and other Wisconsinites attended an Oval Office meeting with Trump a few weeks after the December 6 memo was distributed, and Chesebro briefed Trump about the fake electors planning, according to past CNN reporting.

In the December 6, 2020, memo, Chesebro laid out the plan to put forth slates of Republican electors in seven key swing states that Trump lost, including Wisconsin.

The Trump campaign ultimately carried out his plan on December 14, 2020.

CNN’s Katelyn Polantz contributed to this report.

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