December 14, 2023 | Reading Time: 3 minutes
Trump attorney, now cooperating with prosecutors, wrote detailed instructions on how to steal the election in Nevada and Arizona
At times, Ken Chesebr was astonishingly candid about how outrageous his plan was, writes Lindsay Beyerstein.
The attorney general of Nevada announced that six fake electors, including the chair and vice chair of the Nevada GOP, have been indicted for their bid to steal the 2020 election for Donald Trump.
The state will have a significant advantage. The intellectual architect of the fake electors scheme, Ken Chesebro, has agreed to travel to Nevada and neighboring Arizona to assist prosecutors.
Of all the members of Trump’s legal team, Chesebro is the most enigmatic. The sixty-something was a mild-mannered liberal until he made several million dollars trading cryptocurrency, split from his wife of 20 years, and married a woman in her early twenties. Whereupon, he reinvented himself as a far-right Republican.
The Harvard-educated Chesebro pled guilty in October to a single felony count of conspiring to file false documents in Georgia. This was a generous plea deal given that Chesebro conceived the massive fake electors’ scheme and micromanaged its execution.
The Harvard-educated Chesebro pled guilty in October to a single felony count of conspiring to file false documents in Georgia. This was a generous plea deal given that Chesebro conceived the massive fake electors’ scheme and micromanaged its execution. Moreover, he signed his name to everything. A smart lawyer and a dumb criminal, Chesebro sent detailed written instructions to state-level Republican operatives on where and how to cast their fake votes. At times, he was astonishingly candid about how outrageous his plan was.
“[Two Republicans officials] are concerned it could appear treasonous for the AZ electors to vote on Monday if there is no pending court proceeding that might, eventually, lead to the electors being ratified as the legitimate ones,” Chesebro wrote to Rudy Giuliani, bolding the word “treasonous” for emphasis.
“Which is a valid point…” he conceded, before explaining why they were going to do it anyway. There was, in fact, no pending litigation in Arizona that could have declared Trump the lawful winner of the state’s electoral votes.
It should be noted these concerned Republican officials participated in a standoff with armed federal law enforcement at the Bundy Ranch in 2014. When they’re concerned about the treason optics, the situation is truly dire.
Chesebro described Nevada as “an extremely problematic state” for the coup plotters, because, he observed, the secretary of state had to preside over the casting of the electoral votes and the votes could only go to the winner of Nevada’s popular vote. Neither of those provisos applied to Chesebros’ handpicked fake electors and he knew it.
Chesebro reached for a historical precedent to justify the fake electors scheme. In 1960, Richard Nixon carried the state of Hawaii by a mere 140 votes. A recount ensued. The Democrats selected alternate electors just in case the recount went their way. The Democrats did, in fact, prevail on the recount and the governor certified their slate as the genuine article. There was no evidence that the Democrats intended to deceive anyone, let alone to push their claim in the face of a failed recount. Indeed, there would have been no point, given that John F. Kennedy had already secured enough electoral votes to win the election. The Hawaii Dems of 1960 were simply using their alternate slate as a placeholder.
Only two slates of fake electors, Pennsylvania and New Mexico, stipulated that their votes should only be counted if their side prevailed in litigation, the rest, including Nevada and Arizona, simply falsely asserted that they were the real electors from their states.
Chesebro has already obtained a proffer in Nevada, which guarantees that he won’t be prosecuted under the laws of that state if he testifies against the fake electors. Such leniency to the Cheese may seem unfair to Nevada’s fake electors, given that they were merely running Chesebro’s playbook. But that’s how plea deals work. The sooner you flip, the sweeter the deal.
Lindsay Beyerstein covers legal affairs, health care and politics for the Editorial Board. An award-winning documentary filmmaker, she’s a judge for the Sidney Hillman Foundation. Find her @beyerstein.