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Trump wanted state legislatures to overturn results ‘right after the election,’ campaign lawyer says

Attorney says state legislature strategy may have come up ‘before the election’

Gustaf Kilander
Washington, DC
Tuesday 21 June 2022 19:11 BST
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Related video: ‘The lie hasn’t gone away’: Jan 6 committee chairman says Trump threat to elections is ongoing

Donald Trump wanted state legislatures to overturn the results of the 2020 election “right after the election,” a Trump campaign lawyer has told the January 6 Committee.

The committee obtained an email from two days after the election in which Trump campaign lawyer Cleta Mitchell asked fellow Trump attorney John Eastman: “John – What do you think of producing a legal memo outlining the constitutional role of state legislators in designating electors?”

During a pre-recorded deposition, Ms Mitchell was asked by a House Select Committee staffer when she remembered the strategy coming up for the first time.

“Right after the election. It might have been before the election,” she said.

Mr Eastman wrote a memo outlining the tactic, which was sent to the Trump White House, the legal team of Mr Trump’s then-personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, and state lawmakers.

Mr Eastman also went before the Georgia legislature to push the strategy.

“You could also do what the Florida legislature was prepared to do,” he said on 3 December 2020. “Which is to adopt a slate of electors yourselves.”

He said that because of what he claimed to be evidence of “outright election fraud”, it was not only within their “authority” but that it was their “duty to do that”.

The committee noted that several Republican officials from around the country issued statements saying that the strategy was illegal.

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp said the tactic was “unconstitutional” and Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers, who appeared in front of the committee in person on Tuesday, said at the time that the strategy would violate “the rule of law”.

But Mr Trump ramped up the pressure on state lawmakers, inviting delegations from Michigan and Pennsylvania to the White House.

The Republican Majority Leader of the Michigan State Senate, Mike Shirkey, told the committee that they told Mr Trump that they would “follow” the law.

But Mr Trump didn’t let up. On 21 November 2020, he tweeted that “hopefully the courts or the legislatures will have the courage to do what has to be done to maintain the integrity of our elections”.

“The world is watching!” he added.

The committee also said that Mr Trump posted several messages on Facebook listing the contact information of state officials, and pushed his supporters to contact them to “demand a vote on decertification”.

He posted Mr Shirkey’s personal phone number. Mr Shirkey told the committee that he received “just shy of 4,000” texts “over a short period of time” calling on him to “take action”.

He said the Trump supporters were “believing things that were untrue” when they demanded they change the results.

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