Memos Show Efforts to Appoint Alternate Electors Before Jan. 6: NYT

  • Two memos from 2020 obtained by The New York Times highlight the importance of the date January 6.
  • The memos also detail the beginning of the “alternate electors” scheme.
  • The New York Times said the memos are the first known memos to outline a fake elector scheme.

Two memos obtained by The New York Times show the earliest known sketch of the plan to put forth fake pro-Trump electors for the 2020 presidential election and the Trump administration’s interest in the January 6 date.

In an effort to overturn the 2020 election results in seven swing states that voted for Joe Biden, Pro-Trump supporters attempted to assume roles as electors and filed certificates claiming that Trump won, a nonprofit watchdog group called American Oversight found in March 2021. Previous electors had been chosen in fair elections.

In the first memo, sent to James R. Troupis, an attorney for the Trump campaign in the swing state Wisconsin, on November 18, 2020, another attorney, Kenneth Chesebro, argued that “the real deadline for settling a state’s electoral votes” was January 6 — the day Congress meets to finalize the electoral vote count.

Chesebro added the deadline was not December 8 — which he said was the “‘safe harbor’ deadline under the Electoral Count Act” — or December 14 — which he said was the date “which electors must vote in their respective States.”

In the second memo, also obtained by The Times, sent to Troupis on December 9, 2020, Chesebro argued that “alternate electors” would be a legal act. 

“Preferably all electors who were on the ballot in the particular State would be in attendance. But if some are unwilling (due to intimidation) or unable to make it, at least four of the States permit the electors who do attend to fill the empty slots with alternates,” Chesebro said in the second memo, sent on December 9, 2020.

“The electors would then all vote for Trump for President, and Pence for Vice President, separately,” Chesebro added.

Per The Times report, this reasoning led to Trump’s failed attempt to pressure former Vice President Mike Pence to prevent the certification of the election by Congress on January 6, 2021.


The House select committee investigating the events of January 6, 2021 — including attempts to overturn the election and the Capitol riot — released a statement on January 28 saying 14 individuals who potentially acted as alternate electors had been subpoenaed. 

Boris Epshteyn, Trump’s former campaign advisor, admitted to MSNBC that he helped Rudy Giuliani, former mayor of New York and Trump’s former personal lawyer, with the alternate elector scheme, as Insider reported in January.

According to The New York Times, citing an unnamed source, Rudy Giuliani, in addition to other attorneys such as John Eastman, used the memos to bring about “a strategy intended to exploit ambiguities in the Electoral Count Act.” 

Kenneth Chesebro, James R. Troupis, and the Office of Former President Donald Trump did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment. 

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