Nov 2, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Trump lawyers saw Thomas as "key" to disrupting 2020 election count

Thomas would be “our only chance to get a favorable judicial opinion by Jan. 6, which might hold up the Georgia count in Congress.”

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Emails that emerged Wednesday underscore the extent to which former President Trump's top legal advisers zeroed in on Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas as "being key" in their bid to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

Driving the news: "We want to frame things so that Thomas could be the one to issue some sort of stay or other circuit justice opinion saying Georgia is in legitimate doubt," Trump lawyer Kenneth Chesebro wrote in an email on Dec. 31, 2020, to John Eastman and other members of Trump's legal team.

  • Thomas could "end up being the key," Chesebro also said in the newly disclosed emails, which were released by Eastman's attorneys last week to the Jan. 6 committee and obtained by Politico.
  • He added that Thomas would be "our only chance to get a favorable judicial opinion by Jan. 6, which might hold up the Georgia count in Congress."
  • "I think I agree with this," Eastman wrote later that morning.

Between the lines: Chesebro in another email on Dec. 31 laid out his strategy to disrupt the election certification process.

  • "[I]f we can just get this case pending before the Supreme Court by Jan. 5, ideally with something positive written by a judge or justice, hopefully Thomas, I think it’s our best shot at holding up the count of a state in Congress," he wrote.

The big picture: Eastman, a central figure in Trump's attempts to subvert election results, is the conservative legal scholar who championed the theory, along with Trump, that the vice president could unilaterally reject electors.

  • The messages were part of eight emails that Eastman sought to shield from the Jan. 6 select committee, but a judge ordered that the emails be released, Politico reports.
  • Thomas' wife, Ginni Thomas, has also emerged as a central player in the Jan. 6 select committee's investigation, as she was in touch with Trump advisers about schemes to overturn the 2020 election.
  • In September, Ginni Thomas sat for a closed-door interview with the Jan. 6 committee.

Go deeper: Eastman denies correspondence with Ginni Thomas about issues that might "come before the Court"

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