‘History is Made’: Top Trump Lawyers Texted Gleefully Throughout Attempt To Reverse 2020 Loss

ATLANTA, GEORGIA - OCTOBER 20: Kenneth Chesebro sits with his attorney Manny Arora during a hearing where Chesebro accepted a plea deal from the Fulton County District Attorney in front of Fulton County Superior Judg... ATLANTA, GEORGIA - OCTOBER 20: Kenneth Chesebro sits with his attorney Manny Arora during a hearing where Chesebro accepted a plea deal from the Fulton County District Attorney in front of Fulton County Superior Judge Scott McAfee at the Fulton County Courthouse October 20, 2023 in Atlanta, Georgia. Chesebro was facing seven charges related to his alleged role as the legal architect in using Trump electors in Georgia and other key states to undermine the 2020 elections. (Photo by Alyssa Pointer/Getty Images) MORE LESS
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Minutes before a violent mob smashed through barricades set up around the Capitol on Jan. 6, Trump attorney Ken Chesebro held out hope that his plan to halt certification was beginning to work. Members of Congress had objected to electors from Arizona, the first of seven swing states in which Chesebro organized slates of fake electors.

“You got Arizona. Well done Ken!” wrote Jim Troupis, an attorney and former Wisconsin judge who had, months earlier, brought Chesebro onto the Trump campaign, in a text. “History is made!” he added in the text to Chesebro.

As Chesebro walked around the Mall, and as rioters breached the Capitol, he continued texting Troupis. He sent a selfie of himself alongside Infowars host Alex Jones; after Troupis texted him “tear gas in the Capitol,” Chesebro replied, “I caught a wife. Wiff. Lol.”

Whiffs aside, the newly revealed text messages were released on Monday as part of a settlement that Troupis and Chesebro reached with electors for Joe Biden. The 2020 electors sued Chesebro, Troupis, and Wisconsin fake electors in state court; the fake electors settled last year.

Per the settlement, announced Monday, both Chesebro and Troupis were required to turn over communications relating to their efforts to help Trump cling to power after losing the 2020 election. Troupis was required to pay an undisclosed sum to settle the civil suit, documents filed in the case show.

The documents include a lengthy text thread between Troupis and Chesebro, tracking their communications from the November 2020 election until after Biden’s inauguration.

That text exchange, along with emails and other texts that Troupis provided, offers another window into the improbable journey of Ken Chesebro and his at times-comical approach towards feeding the Trump campaign legal theories that brought the U.S. closer than it has even been to a failure to transfer power — and that also, as he noted in one message, could have resulted in series of bizarre, unintended effects, such as Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) becoming “acting president.” Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) also is shown in the texts to have been in direct communication with members of Trump’s legal team over the fake electors plan in his state.

Chesebro developed the fake electors theory, and was tasked by the Trump campaign with coordinating its implementation in the states. He also, TPM reported, advocated early on that the Trump campaign find ways to have Mike Pence decline to open Electoral College ballots.

Chesebro laid out his plan in a Dec. 6 memo, suggesting that the fake electors could be used to bring the Trump cause before the Supreme Court. The next day, Chesebro asked Troupis to send the memo to Trump campaign official Justin Clark.

“I have sent it to the White House this afternoon. The real decision makers,” Troupis replied in one newly revealed text, adding that he had given the document to Reince Preibus “so he might talk with the President.”

Chesebro replied to that with paragraphs of text outlining his now-familiar legal theories for how Pence could disrupt the count on Jan. 6: “there is a very defensible, technical way he could throw a wrench in the count to buy more time.”

The texts add new color to Chesebro’s surprising journey into Trumpworld: The heterodox onetime acolyte of Lawrence Tribe had an idea, and he was trying to get it to people in power. The people in power liked the way he thought. Over the next several days, emails previously obtained by TPM show, Chesebro was introduced to Trumpworld figures like Rudy Giuliani, Boris Epshteyn, and others as he was tasked with coordinating the fake electors in seven states which Trump lost.

As Chesebro worked through the details of the scheme — in which Pence would feign confusion at which elector slates were real, the Biden or contingent Trump ones — he arranged a call with Pence legal advisor Greg Jacob.

In a newly revealed text to Troupis and two other attorneys immediately after the call, Chesebro sounded dejected: Jacob had given him “a reality check on what is likely to happen under the Electoral Count Act.”

But despite the unenthusiastic response from Pence’s office, Chesebro would go on to spend the following weeks advocating for various ways in which Pence, or another actor, could hold up the count. Nearly all of them involved either deviating from or suspending the Electoral Count Act.

He even took a version of the idea to Trump himself at a Dec. 16 White House meet-and-greet. At the meeting, Chesebro told Trump that the “real deadline” was Jan. 6.

Days later, Trump tweeted that his supporters should come to Washington on Jan. 6. “Will be wild!” Trump wrote.

Chesebro looked at the tweet, the texts show, and saw his influence.

“Wow. Based on 3 days ago, I think we have unique understanding of this,” he texted Troupis, before linking to a Gateway Pundit writeup of Trump’s tweet.

The Trump campaign’s plan to stalemate Congress as it sought to certify Biden’s win relied, in theory, on the cooperation of several GOP members of Congress. The power to delay the count, in the minds of Trump attorneys, resided not only with Pence (if he had the courage) but with Republican senators. But if the count was frozen, the outcomes were literally unpredictable. Chesebro’s texts reflect an awareness of the pandora’s box that his wild schemes might open: At one point, Chesebro fretted that Congress might elect Kamala Harris President (“a horror”). But none of that would happen “unless Pence freezes the count,” he told Troupis, or if the continuing resolution by which the Electoral Count Act is adopted were filibustered.

Chesebro told Troupis on Jan. 3 that he had been in contact with John Eastman and Boris Epshteyn on the issue, and that he believed they had “briefed the senators.”

It came to naught, though the messages contain hints that Johnson at times entertained elements of the scheme.

Troupis released texts between himself and Johnson in which the senator asked for an update on Troupis and Chesebro’s lawsuit asking the Wisconsin Supreme Court to reverse Trump’s loss in the state. They lost that battle.

After the fake electors convened, the texts show, Chesebro wrote that he had heard that a “Ron Johnson staffer called asking if there would be a summary of the situation.”

That involvement continued until Jan. 6 itself. Troupis wrote in one message that day that he had been on the phone with Johnson and his chief of staff as part of an effort to ensure that the Wisconsin fake elector ballots made their way to Mike Pence.

That effort was doomed; Pence would not play along and his staff did not want to touch the ballots. But Troupis related to Chesebro the excuse that Johnson’s team said they had been given: the fake elector envelope had been opened, and “the VP cannot accept any unsealed mail.”

It was a comically lame excuse, but there was no time to dwell: rioters were beginning to breach the Capitol.

Reeling from it all the next day, Chesebro texted Troupis that he blamed Antifa for the “actual breaking in,” but also Mike Pence, who gave Trump “false hope.”

He added that he hoped Trump could smooth things over by inviting Biden and Harris “over for coffee on inauguration morning.

“He could lighten it up with a couple of well-placed jokes,” Chesebro suggested.

This time, the Trump campaign did not take Chesebro’s advice.

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