National Security

Trump lawyers pinned hopes of overturning election on appeal to Thomas: emails

Former President Trump’s legal team viewed Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas as “key” to the group’s efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election results in Trump’s favor, emails show.

Against the wishes of conservative lawyer John Eastman, a federal district court judge last month ordered the release of eight emails to the House committee investigating Jan. 6, 2021, that show Eastman and other Trump attorneys discussing their post-election legal strategy.

The House panel’s attorneys included a Dropbox link to the emails in a court filing late Tuesday evening. Politico first published the documents, and the link in the filing no longer works.

The emails reveal a Dec. 31, 2020, message from Trump attorney Kenneth Chesebro to Eastman and others.

“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,” Chesebro wrote. “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,” Eastman responded. “If the court were to give us ‘likely,’ that may be enough to kick the Georgia Legislature into gear, because I’ve been getting a lot of calls from them.”

In an apparent formatting error, the emails do not contain the letters “i” and “l,” which were re-added in this story.

Thomas is assigned to oversee emergency petitions from the 11th Circuit, which includes Georgia.

Justices typically refer significant requests to the full court, but the messages show how Trump’s legal team appeared to view a favorable ruling from Thomas as a potential linchpin to convince lawmakers to reject the state’s electoral votes cast for President Biden, who narrowly won Georgia.

“I know we’re at the district court level, and late in the day, but if we can just get this case pending before the Supreme Court by Jan. 5, ideally with something positive written by a judge or justice, hopefully Thomas, I think it’s our best shot at holding up the count of a state in Congress,” Chesebro responded to the group later on Dec. 31.

Thomas has since faced calls to recuse himself from matters related to Jan. 6 after his wife, Ginni Thomas, reportedly exchanged emails with Eastman and others about the 2020 election.

Beyond those messages and emails revealed in the new court filing, Eastman gained attention for drafting memos for the Trump campaign outlining how former Vice President Mike Pence could keep Trump in power on Jan. 6.

Tags 2020 election claims Clarence Thomas Clarence Thomas Donald Trump Georgia Ginni Thomas House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack John Eastman John Eastman Kenneth Cheseboro Kenneth Chesebro Politico U.S. Supreme Court
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