Arizona officials warn fake election plan could ‘seem treasonous’

After former President Donald J. Trump lost the 2020 election, two Arizona Republicans were recruited by former President Donald J. Trump’s allies to fight To keep him in office, they were so concerned about the program that they told lawyers working on it that they feared their actions could be viewed as treason, according to emails reviewed by The New York Times.

Both Arizona Republican Chairman Kelly Ward and state Sen. Kelly Townsend are said to have expressed concerns to Trump’s lawyers in December 2020 about participating in the plan to sign a series of voters who claimed Trump. Trump Pope won Arizona, although Joseph R. Biden Jr. won the state.

The plan is part of a broader bid — one of the longest and most complex ever undertaken by Mr Trump as he tries to stay in power after losing the 2020 presidential election — over who would fight in battleground states. Claiming he is the real winner.

Some of the lawyers who took on the work doubted its legitimacy, and the emails had not been reported before, the latest sign that other major players also knew their legal base was shaky and worked hard to create a platform that could justify it. justify their actions.

In a Dec. 11, 2020, email to other members of the legal team, Kenneth Chesebro, an attorney working for the Trump campaign, wrote that Ms. Ward and Ms. Townsend had made a Part of the alternatives raised concerns. voters, as there are no pending legal challenges that could change the outcome of the Arizona election.

“Ward and Townsend worry that this might appear treasonous. Arizona voters will cast their ballots on Monday if there is no pending court process that could ultimately result in voters being approved as legal voters,” Mr. Chesebro wrote to the group, which includes Mr. Trump’s Rudolph W. Private attorney for Rudolph W. Giuliani.

Mr. Cecebro wrote the word “treason” in bold.

The use of the term underscores how aware at least some of Mr Trump’s allies are that they are taking truly extraordinary steps to keep him in office, so much so that they risk being seen as betraying their country.

Ms. Ward, who pushed for voter planning secrecy, eventually joined the effort and signed a document purported to be “Arizona’s 2020 Voter Voter Proof” and claimed that Mr. Trump won the state’s 11 Electoral College votes .

One person involved in the program, Arizona attorney Jack Willenczyk, acknowledged in an email that the electoral college vote the movement is working to organize “is not legal under federal law” and has repeatedly called it “fake.” ”, The Times reported.

In a later email, Mr. Wilenchik said the rush to the Supreme Court was “to provide Arizona voters with legal ‘cover’ to ‘vote’ on December 14, 2020, the day of the Electoral College.” was arranged to collect and vote.

Ms. Townsend did not serve as one of Mr. Trump’s electors, but pushed for his claim that the election was stolen.

Ms Ward and Ms Townsend He has since received a subpoena from the Justice Department asking questions about the sham election scheme and asking for documents detailing communications with Trump’s legal team.

The department expanded its investigation into the attacks that led to the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol to include subpoenas for Pat A. Cipollone, Mr. Trump’s White House adviser, who rejected some of his most extreme efforts. Overturn the election, according to a person familiar with the subpoena.

Ms Ward, Ms Townsend, Mr Wilenchik and Mr Chesebro did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The push to organize the fake voter list involved Mr Giuliani’s actual work, with emails showing Giuliani talking to Ms Ward and Ms Townsend as the Trump campaign apparently urged voters to cast their ballots on Dec. 14 .

Mr. Chesebro sought assurances from Mr. Wilenchik that he would promptly file documents with the U.S. Supreme Court challenging the Arizona Supreme Court’s ruling affirming Mr. Biden’s victory in the state.

“The reason is that Kelli Ward and Kelly Townsend have just spoken to the mayor regarding the campaign’s request for all voters in all contested states to vote Monday,” Mr. Cesebro wrote to Mr. Wilenchik, apparently referring to Giuliani Mr. talk.

He said Ms Ward and Ms Townsend were concerned that activating another group of Trump voters “could appear treasonous” in the absence of pending lawsuits. “It’s a valid point — in the 1960 Hawaii incident, when Kennedy voters cast their ballots, a recount was needed,” Mr. Cecebro added.

He was referring to an example of an argument he and others used as an argument that they could come up with fake voter lists. In 1960, the results of the Hawaiian elections hung in the balance as the Electoral College convened. The governor approved a group of voters to support Richard M. Nixon, who claimed he had won as the recount continued. John F. Kennedy also made up the electoral roll.

After the votes were counted, Mr. Kennedy won and his voter roll was finally certified.

However, the events of 1960 bear little resemblance to those of 2020. By the time the Electoral College meets on December 14, 2020, the ballots have been counted, and Mr. Biden has been declared the winner and challenged in various courts. Allies of Mr. Trump.

In a follow-up email, Mr. Cecebro wrote that he no longer considered it “concerning” that a legal action some in the group was planning to bring was “at the printer” and the highest The court held that as long as it was by post. By the time the Electoral College meets, it will be in the mail, he wrote.

Mr Wilenchik filed the petition on the same day, record display. (The Supreme Court rejected the petition in February 2021.)

In the weeks following the election, Mr. Cesebro wrote a series of memos outlining a plan to send so-called alternate electors to Congress for certification. A little more than two weeks after Election Day, Mr. Chesebro sent a memo to James Tropis, another lawyer for the Trump campaign in Wisconsin, listing a candidate to nominate pro-Trump voters in the state. , which was also won by Trump. Biden.

Mr. Cesebro also sent an email to Mr. Giuliani on December 13, 2020, encouraging Vice President Mike Pence “to make it clear that he, and he alone, has not only a constitutional responsibility, There are also public votes, and they are counted — including judging what to do if there are conflicting votes.”

The idea became the basis for Mr. Trump’s pressure on Mr. Pence, as the president tried to convince his own vice president that he could block or delay Congress’s Jan. 6, 2021, certification of Mr. Biden’s victory.

Mr. Chesebro was also involved in a Dec. 24, 2020 email exchange with pro-Trump attorney John C. Eastman about whether to file legal documents, which they hope could prompt the four judges Agree to hear Wisconsin election case.

In the emails, Mr Cecebro argued that “if the justices start to worry about a ‘crazy’ mess on January 6, unless they are in power by then, the possibility of taking action before January 6 will become more beneficial.”

Their exchange comes five days after Mr. Trump called on his supporters to attend the Oval protest near the White House on Jan. 6, 2021, the day Congress will certify the electoral vote to confirm Mr. Biden’s victory. “There. Will be wild!” Mr Trump tweeted.

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