According to December 2020 emails, a senior White House attorney raised concerns with President Trump’s advisers and attorneys that the president signed an affidavit confirming inaccurate evidence of voter fraud received from Axios.
Why it matters: The emails shed new light on a federal judge’s explosive finding Wednesday that Trump knew certain counts of voter fraud in Georgia had been exposed but continued to announce them both publicly and under oath.
- While the judge’s opinion stems from a lawsuit related to the Jan. 6 House committee, the Justice Department is also conducting a criminal investigation into Trump and his allies’ plan to block Congress from confirming Joe Biden’s election victory.
- Eric Herschmann, the former White House attorney who warned Trump’s outside counsel about the inaccurate allegations of voter fraud in Georgia, was subpoenaed this summer to testify in the Justice Department’s investigation.
Background: US District Court Judge David Carter is leading the Jan. 6 House Committee’s attempt to subpoena communications from conservative attorney John Eastman, one of the architects of the plan to overturn the election.
- After reviewing hundreds of emails that Eastman claimed were privileged, Judge Carter ruled that some should be turned over to the January 6 committee – noting that they were “sufficiently connected with a conspiracy to.” fraud of the United States stood and promoted it”.
- In an email cited in Judge Carter’s statement, Eastman told Trump’s team that the president had been made aware that some of the allegations and evidence of voter fraud used in a Georgia election process were inaccurate.
- That lawsuit was later moved to federal court. “It would not be proper for him to sign a new certification with that knowledge (and inclusion by reference),” Eastman wrote, per the judge’s order.
Worthless: The lawsuit, filed in federal court, included a footnote saying Trump relies only on voter data provided to him and that it is subject to change based on the results of government investigations.
- “But by his attorneys’ own admissions, the information provided to him was that the alleged voter fraud figures were inaccurate,” Judge Carter wrote in his opinion, accusing Trump’s attorneys of “denying his responsibility for the misleading allegations.”
Driving the news: The emails obtained by Axios – which were also brought to the attention of the Jan. 6 Committee and the Justice Department, according to a source with direct knowledge – show correspondence between Herschmann, then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, and a Conservative activist and outside attorney Cleta Mitchell. Trump’s executive assistant, Molly Michael, is CCed.
- On Dec. 30, Mitchell Meadows sent an email that she described as the “near-final version” of a lawsuit to be filed in federal court against Georgia Governor Brian Kemp and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. “Remember, we were persuaded to do this by others,” wrote Mitchell, a key figure in Trump’s effort to overthrow the 2020 election.
- The next day, Mitchell sent Herschmann a draft of the lawsuit in response to apparent concerns he had raised, writing, “This is John Eastman’s version with your amendments.”
- Herschmann replied: “I will check it now. I have not sent any edits to John, I have explained that I was concerned that the President would sign an acknowledgment of facts that a detailed examination might not support. I think we should limit the number of specific factual “allegations to those that are necessary, i.e., such allegations showing that the decision is outcome-determining.”
What you say: A spokesman for Trump did not respond to a request for comment. But in a post on Truth Social Thursday, the former President attacked Judge Carter as a “partisan hacker” who “shouldn’t make statements about me until he understands the facts, which he doesn’t!”
- Herschmann told Axios, “I’m not discussing my conversations with the President or the circumstances.”
- Charles Burnham, an attorney for John Eastman, told Axios: “We have extensive privileged communications regarding Mr Herschmann’s cooperation in securing the signed confirmation of the President. If that privilege were ever waived, we would be happy to discuss the content of these communications. “
- George Terdlinger, an attorney for Meadows, declined to comment. Mitchell did not respond to a request for comment.
Between the lines: One tactic employed by Trump campaign and White House attorneys — who have often been at odds with outside attorneys who have made the most sweeping allegations of voter fraud — has been to urge outside attorneys to take “outcome-determining” provide evidence of fraud.
- In this case, that meant they had evidence that there were more fraudulent ballots than the margin for Biden (which was 11,779 votes in Georgia).
- In a now infamous phone call first reported by The Washington Post on Jan. 2, 2021, Trump urged Raffensperger to “find 11,780 votes, that’s one more than we have.”
Backstage: At 30 minutes to midnight on New Year’s Eve 2020, Mitchell sent an email implying she was frustrated with Herschmann for slowing down the process and asking him to work with other members of Trump’s outside legal team “as soon as possible.” to talk on the phone.
- Relations between Mitchell and Herschmann had been strained in the days leading up to the New Year’s email exchange, according to three sources familiar with the situation. It involved a heated phone conversation between Herschmann and Mitchell while Herschmann was seated in the outer oval.
- Trump’s executive assistant had shown Herschmann a document received from outside attorneys. It was an endorsement in support of an election complaint that attorneys wanted Trump to sign in front of a notary. However, no complaint accompanied the review, according to two sources with direct knowledge of the document.
- And the complaint was not closed at this point. Lawyers wanted the president’s signature on the review before the final draft was finalized.
Herschmann told the outside attorneys He would not allow the president to sign an affidavit without accompanying solid documentation and questioned the veracity of the state-level lawsuit filed in Georgia, the three sources said.
- Herschmann complained to several people inside and outside the White House that he thought the request was “crazy.”
- Axios has not yet determined how Trump came to sign the verification or who provided him with the document.
The big picture: Taken together, the emails obtained by Axios and reviewed by Judge Carter show that at least two of Trump’s attorneys – Herschmann and Eastman – have expressed concerns that the President should sign an affidavit containing specific allegations of voter fraud, which are inaccurate.
Flashback: In the final weeks of Trump’s tenure, Herschmann became increasingly angered by the conspiracy theorists and fringe rights activists the president surrounded himself with as he tried to hold on to power.
- In an affidavit played during a hearing Jan. 6 this summer, Herschmann testified that he told Eastman in the Capitol the day after the riot, “I just want to hear two words out of your mouth from now on.” : ‘orderly transition’.”
- Herschmann told the committee, Eastman eventually repeated the words to him.
- “Now I’m going to give you the best free legal advice you’ve ever had in your life,” Herschmann testified, adding. “Get a damn good criminal defense attorney. You will need him.”