Trump lawyers saw Justice Thomas as 'only chance' to stop 2020 election certification

Kenneth Griffin

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Jan 13, 2012
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The emails were part of a batch that lawyer John Eastman had sought to withhold from the Jan. 6 select committee but that a judge ordered turned over anyway, describing them as evidence of likely crimes committed by Eastman and Donald Trump. | J. Scott Applewhite/AP Photo

Donald Trump’s attorneys saw a direct appeal to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas as their best hope of derailing Joe Biden’s win in the 2020 presidential election, email messages newly disclosed to congressional investigators show.

“We want to frame things so that Thomas could be the one to issue some sort of stay or other circuit justice opinion saying Georgia is in legitimate doubt,” Trump attorney Kenneth Chesebro wrote in a Dec. 31, 2020 email to Trump’s legal team. “Realistically, our only chance to get a favorable judicial opinion by Jan. 6, which might hold up the Georgia count in Congress, is from Thomas -- do you agree, Prof. Eastman?”

“I think I agree with this,” Trump attorney John Eastman replied later that morning, suggesting that a favorable move by Thomas or other justices would “kick the Georgia legislature into gear” to help overturn the election results.

“I’ve been getting a lot of calls from them indicating to me they’re leaning that way,” Eastman said, according to copies of the emails obtained by POLITICO.

Thomas is the justice assigned to handle emergency matters arising out of Georgia and would have been the one to receive any urgent appeal of Trump’s lawsuit to the Supreme Court — a fact that seemed to be part of the Trump legal team’s calculus.

Rulings from so-called circuit justices are typically stopgap measures aimed at preserving the status quo until the full Supreme Court weighs in, but the Trump lawyers hoped a favorable order from Thomas would embolden state GOP-controlled legislatures to block final certifications of Joe Biden’s victory.

The emails were part of a batch that Eastman had sought to withhold from the Jan. 6 select committee but that a federal judge ordered turned over anyway, describing them as evidence of likely crimes committed by Eastman and Trump.

The emails also shed new light on an effort to get Trump to sign documents connected to a Dec. 31, 2020 federal lawsuit challenging the election results in Georgia, including acute concerns Trump’s lawyers voiced during that chaotic period that Trump might put himself in legal jeopardy if he attested to the voter fraud data contained in it.

“I have no doubt that an aggressive DA or US Atty someplace will go after both the President and his lawyers once all the dust settles on this,” Eastman wrote in an email to two other private attorneys working on Trump election challenges, Alex Kaufman and Kurt Hilbert.

After some exchanges, including with Trump White House lawyer Eric Herschmann, the lawyers agreed they would remove some of the specific figures before Trump swore to the accuracy of the lawsuit.

But they also debated whether the federal complaint should “incorporate by reference” the voter fraud data included in an earlier state-level lawsuit. Eastman warned that since the state lawsuit was filed, evidence had disproven some of the voter fraud data contained in it — and having Trump point to the earlier data would be erroneous.
“I know it is late in the day, but do we need to incorporate that complaint by reference?” Eastman wondered.

It’s unclear how the other attorney responded to Eastman. But in a separate email chain with additional lawyers, an intensive effort was underway to get the court filings in front of Trump so they could be signed and notarized in time to file the lawsuit that evening.
Trump, they were informed, was on a plane back to D.C. and they needed him to sign and notarize the document. Trump attorney Cleta Mitchell said Trump’s personal assistant had informed her they had no access to a notary until Monday.

“So, now what?” she wondered. “Can we figure out a way to file this without a verification?

“There’s no one they can call to come to the White House that’s a notary?” Chris Gardner, a Virginia attorney and former GOP House 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 we file without it. Presidential trip to a UPS store?”

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

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

Trump’s signature was key to U.S. District Judge David Carter’s Oct. 19 ruling that the emails must be disclosed to the House Jan. 6 committee. Carter said Trump signed the verification to a federal court complaint under penalty of perjury despite evidence that he’d been told many of the fraud claims in the lawsuit were inaccurate.

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

 

ThorneStockton

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Oct 2, 2009
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Key paragraph: "Thomas is the justice assigned to handle emergency matters arising out of Georgia and would have been the one to receive any urgent appeal of Trump’s lawsuit to the Supreme Court — a fact that seemed to be part of the Trump legal team’s calculus."
 

ihhawk

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Feb 4, 2004
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No, this is reporting of things that actually occurred, derived from in this case, emails. Of course it would surprise no one that you have trouble discerning the difference between reporting and wild speculation.
The whole point of this would be that you think Thomas was involved. Correct?
 

ThorneStockton

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Oct 2, 2009
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The whole point of this would be that you think Thomas was involved. Correct?

No, the point is to report on the strategy and thinking of Trump's team at that time, derived from the emails among themselves that are now available. That is especially clear if you read the article. It's really rather simple. Normal people can read simple reporting and come away with nothing but an understanding of the events, rather than something super sinister, where the media has concocted a misleading story to fool their readers. You probably are still capable of reading sports stories or a summary of a game without finding hidden meaning or a "agenda" or "narrative" in it, it's just a summary of the game.

Now, if someone took that information, and furthered it without support, say: Thomas was secretly in a dom/sub relationship with Trump's lawyer Eastman, and Eastman was going to use that leverage as blackmail to get Thomas to suspend the certification. And that Thomas was going to go through with it, until Thomas was persuaded by Sotomayer to not go through with it, or Ginni will be deposed... yada yada.

That would be a conspiracy theory.
 

ihhawk

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Feb 4, 2004
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No, the point is to report on the strategy and thinking of Trump's team at that time, derived from the emails among themselves that are now available. That is especially clear if you read the article. It's really rather simple. Normal people can read simple reporting and come away with nothing but an understanding of the events, rather than something super sinister, where the media has concocted a misleading story to fool their readers. You probably are still capable of reading sports stories or a summary of a game without finding hidden meaning or a "agenda" or "narrative" in it, it's just a summary of the game.

Now, if someone took that information, and furthered it without support, say: Thomas was secretly in a dom/sub relationship with Trump's lawyer Eastman, and Eastman was going to use that leverage as blackmail to get Thomas to suspend the certification. And that Thomas was going to go through with it, until Thomas was persuaded by Sotomayer to not go through with it, or Ginni will be deposed... yada yada.

That would be a conspiracy theory.
So when someone posts this…this is conspiracy stuff right?

“I'm sure it's complete coincidence that his wife has been accused of trying to meddle in getting the elections overturned.”
 

ThorneStockton

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Oct 2, 2009
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So when someone posts this…this is conspiracy stuff right?

“I'm sure it's complete coincidence that his wife has been accused of trying to meddle in getting the elections overturned.”

Yes, or if not yet, at least the start of one. It's certainly not very well hashed out or detailed... but it's got that suspicious, something else is clearly going on, we're missing part of the real story, thing going.
 

tumorboy

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Sep 24, 2002
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Yes, or if not yet, at least the start of one. It's certainly not very well hashed out or detailed... but it's got that suspicious, something else is clearly going on, we're missing part of the real story, thing going.
The other thing would be if there was any coordination with Ginny Thomas.
 
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NCHawk5

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The next few days, the crazier the stories will get. Stockpile of dumb left wing slanted “groundbreaking” journalism headed our way. They should just fly a white flag
 
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ihhawk

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Yes, or if not yet, at least the start of one. It's certainly not very well hashed out or detailed... but it's got that suspicious, something else is clearly going on, we're missing part of the real story, thing going.
Oh, so you think something else is clearly going on but there aren’t any facts that support it.

some people might call that a conspiracy
 

ThorneStockton

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Oct 2, 2009
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Oh, so you think something else is clearly going on but there aren’t any facts that support it.

some people might call that a conspiracy

I must not be clear or I grant you more credit than others do, I was describing the poster you quoted:

“I'm sure it's complete coincidence that his wife has been accused of trying to meddle in getting the elections overturned.”

When I read that, I get the sense that the author believes: that there is something suspicious, that something else is clearly going on, or we're missing part of the real story.

What the poster said, to me, is the start of how a conspiracy theory would develop. It's lacking details and a true theory of what really happened, but the feeling is there.
 

ThorneStockton

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Oct 2, 2009
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So now Thomas is a good guy or bad guy?

Neither. The story is about Trump's lawyers and their strategy and view that Thomas was their last bit of hope to stop Biden.

Why was Thomas their last hope? Because time was running out and Thomas's responsibilities include:

"Thomas is the justice assigned to handle emergency matters arising out of Georgia and would have been the one to receive any urgent appeal of Trump’s lawsuit to the Supreme Court — a fact that seemed to be part of the Trump legal team’s calculus."
 

Finance85

HR Legend
Oct 22, 2003
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No, the point is to report on the strategy and thinking of Trump's team at that time, derived from the emails among themselves that are now available. That is especially clear if you read the article. It's really rather simple. Normal people can read simple reporting and come away with nothing but an understanding of the events, rather than something super sinister, where the media has concocted a misleading story to fool their readers. You probably are still capable of reading sports stories or a summary of a game without finding hidden meaning or a "agenda" or "narrative" in it, it's just a summary of the game.

Now, if someone took that information, and furthered it without support, say: Thomas was secretly in a dom/sub relationship with Trump's lawyer Eastman, and Eastman was going to use that leverage as blackmail to get Thomas to suspend the certification. And that Thomas was going to go through with it, until Thomas was persuaded by Sotomayer to not go through with it, or Ginni will be deposed... yada yada.

That would be a conspiracy theory.
They were wrong. That would be expected of Trump lawyers.
 

Aardvark86

HR All-American
Jan 23, 2018
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No, the point is to report on the strategy and thinking of Trump's team at that time, derived from the emails among themselves that are now available. That is especially clear if you read the article. It's really rather simple. Normal people can read simple reporting and come away with nothing but an understanding of the events, rather than something super sinister, where the media has concocted a misleading story to fool their readers. You probably are still capable of reading sports stories or a summary of a game without finding hidden meaning or a "agenda" or "narrative" in it, it's just a summary of the game.

Now, if someone took that information, and furthered it without support, say: Thomas was secretly in a dom/sub relationship with Trump's lawyer Eastman, and Eastman was going to use that leverage as blackmail to get Thomas to suspend the certification. And that Thomas was going to go through with it, until Thomas was persuaded by Sotomayer to not go through with it, or Ginni will be deposed... yada yada.

That would be a conspiracy theory.
Lawyers would never, ever, consider filing lawsuits in forums with what they perceive to be more favorable appeals pathways.
 

Bulldogs1974

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Oct 16, 2012
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Oh, so you think something else is clearly going on but there aren’t any facts that support it.

some people might call that a conspiracy
Imagine that: dolts that would believe some pelosi love spat with absolutely 0 evidence or logic but can't see something that the very people involved are telling you that they are doing.
Republicans tried to steal and election and to cover it up they blamed the other side of doing the thing they are doing. This is trumps entire life in a nutshell, telegraph the pass.
 

ihhawk

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Feb 4, 2004
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Imagine that: dolts that would believe some pelosi love spat with absolutely 0 evidence or logic but can't see something that the very people involved are telling you that they are doing.
Republicans tried to steal and election and to cover it up they blamed the other side of doing the thing they are doing. This is trumps entire life in a nutshell, telegraph the pass.
This looks like Russia gate to me
 

Joes Place

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Aug 28, 2003
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Lawyers would never, ever, consider filing lawsuits in forums with what they perceive to be more favorable appeals pathways.

What about filing things they KNOW are likely illegal/criminal (e.g. NOT protected by Atty/Client privilege via the Crime-Fraud Exception)?

Is it odd they'd try to go for any specific judge in that case?