Rudy Giuliani's emails reveal scheme to push Mike Pence out on Jan. 6

Giuliani's ally concocted a scheme to have Pence recuse himself from the vote count to overturn the election

By Jon Skolnik

Staff Writer

Published June 3, 2022 11:15AM (EDT)

Rudy Giuliani, former advisor to former President Donald Trump, attends the annual Memorial Day Parade on May 30, 2022 in the Staten Island borough of New York City. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Rudy Giuliani, former advisor to former President Donald Trump, attends the annual Memorial Day Parade on May 30, 2022 in the Staten Island borough of New York City. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

A former ally of Rudy Giuliani, Donald's Trump's ex-attorney, reportedly concocted a scheme to have former Vice President Mike Pence relinquish his role in the January 6 vote-counting ceremony to a top Senate Republican, who was then expected to overturn the election by blocking the electoral votes in several battleground states. 

The plan, CBS News reports, was outlined in a December 2020 email sent by attorney Kenneth Chesebro to Trump and Giuliani. In it, Chesebro details that Pence would hand over the baton to Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, the Senate president pro tempore, by claiming that he has a "conflict of interest" as a result of being on the 2020 ballot. In theory, the plan would have effectively had Pence ignore the procedures outlined by the Electoral Count Act of 1878, which required that the vice president open all the electoral votes and hand them to Congress to be officially counted. Once Grassley takes over, the memo detailed, he "opens the two envelopes from Arizona, and announces that he cannot and will not, at least as of that date, count any electoral college votes from Arizona because there are two slates of votes."

According to Chesebro's interpretation of the 12th Amendment, Grassley would then have "enormous leverage" to enact whatever solutions to the logjam he saw fit.  

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At one point in his email, Chesebro also reviewed possible rulings by the Supreme Court that would come as a result of the swapping out Arizona's electors with partisan officials. 

"It doesn't seem fanciful to think that Trump and Pence would end up winning the vote after some legislatures appoint electors," Chesebro noted.

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Ultimately, Pence did not end up going along with Trump's plan and instead opted to count the ballots himself, resulting in Trump's official defeat. 

Back in March, Chesebro was subpoenaed by the January 6 select committee for supporting a plan to replace U.S. electors with a slate of MAGA-friendly ones in states that the president lost. House investigators have said that he "participated in attempts to disrupt or delay the certification of the results of the 2020 presidential election."

According to court filings, Chesebro's email was sent to John Eastman, the author of a different election coup scheme, just days before the insurrection unfolded. In March, Eastman was found by a federal judge to have "more likely than not" committed multiple felonies in his six-point plan to overturn the election. 

RELATED Judge: "More likely than not that President Trump corruptly attempted to obstruct" Congress

"This may have been the first time members of President Trump's team transformed a legal interpretation of the Electoral Count Act into a day-by-day plan of action. The draft memo pushed a strategy that knowingly violated the Electoral Count Act, and Dr. Eastman's later memos closely track its analysis and proposal," Judge David O. Carter wrote of Chesebro's email. "The memo is both intimately related to and clearly advanced the plan to obstruct the Joint Session of Congress on January 6, 2021."

By Jon Skolnik

Jon Skolnik is a staff writer at Salon. His work has appeared in Current Affairs, The Baffler, and The New York Daily News.

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