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House January 6 committee obtains email outlining early plan to try to overturn Trump’s 2020 loss

<i>Scott Olson/Getty Images</i><br/>Former President Donald Trump arrives at a rally on April 2
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Former President Donald Trump arrives at a rally on April 2

By Katelyn Polantz, CNN Reporter, Crime and Justice

The House select committee investigating the 2021 US Capitol insurrection has obtained a December 2020 proposal from a lawyer to Rudy Giuliani and others that sketched out an early, rough plan to halt Joe Biden becoming president by throwing the certification of the election into the hands of the Senate pro tempore at the time, Republican Chuck Grassley of Iowa.

The December 13 email, written by a New York lawyer named Kenneth Chesebro, is significant because it’s the only document so far that the House has obtained solely because of a judge’s finding that it could become evidence of a crime. The email came to light as part of a court fight over right-wing attorney John Eastman’s email account.

The House has obtained, through other arguments, hundreds of additional Eastman emails relevant to his work for then-President Donald Trump before January 6, 2021, and is still arguing for access to more. Eastman advised Trump on ways to try to block his electoral loss.

The email from Chesebro, in its subject line, called the proposal the “‘President of the Senate’ strategy.” The committee obtained the email several weeks ago, and it became public in the court filing recently.

Chesebro outlined that under his legal theory, then-Vice President Mike Pence could recuse himself from certifying the election, and Grassley or another senior Republican could step in to preside over the Senate and essentially set aside Biden’s Electoral College win, giving Trump time to further question his loss in public discourse and in court.

By January 2, 2021, Chesebro said in a follow-up email that the proposal had largely become irrelevant. It marks just one of several communications and legal arguments in which Trump advisers discussed blocking his loss of the presidency.

Still, a federal judge has pointed to the proposal as an early indicator of how Eastman and other lawyers for Trump wanted to throw the January 6 Electoral College certification into chaos.

“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 previously wrote about 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.”

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