A Trump administration memo made newly public this week reportedly offering an outline for how to overturn the 2020 election results demonstrates, yet again, the persistence of the pressure campaign foisted on former Vice President Mike Pence to go along with former President Donald Trump’s Big Lie.
The memo is authored by Trump campaign lawyer Jenna Ellis and was revealed for the first time by ABC News correspondent Jonathan Karl on Sunday. The release coincides with the publication this week of Karl’s book, Betrayal: The Final Act of the Trump Show.
Ellis, Karl reports, provided a strategy for Pence to stop the election certification, starting with the vice president sending back the electoral votes of six states where Trump had insisted for weeks—falsely—that he had won.
The memo from Ellis was emailed from former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows to one of Pence’s senior-most aides last New Year’s Eve, Karl reports. It set a deadline of Jan. 15֫—at 7 p.m. sharp—for the new counts to be returned.
This reported scheme and its corresponding deadline meant that Pence, if he acquiesced, would give states nine days to submit their revised totals. And further, if a state missed the deadline, Ellis wrote, then “no electoral votes can be opened and counted from that state.”
Ellis argued that with the new deadline in place, neither Trump nor Biden would have the majority of votes, triggering Congress to vote in a state-by-state delegations.
Rep. Jamie Raskin, a Maryland Democrat and constitutional scholar who now serves as a member to the January 6 Committee, outlined the underlying count process in October explaining then that a potential strategy to deny Biden’s victory could begin with a delay or a refusal to turn over a pro-Biden slate.
After all, Republicans controlled 26 state legislatures and Democrats controlled just 22. Two legislatures were tied but, as Raskin reminded last October, “You need 26 to win.”
Ellis’ memo was followed just 24 hours later by a text from John McEntee to Pence’s chief of staff Marc Short inaccurately suggesting that Thomas Jefferson once “used his position as VP to win.”
While Jefferson did preside over the counting of votes in 1801 as sitting vice president, as Karl pointed out: “Jefferson didn’t discard electoral votes, as Trump wanted Pence to do. He accepted electoral votes from a state that nobody had questioned he had won.”
The pressure campaign unfolded in public and private and led right up to the insurrection at the Capitol on Jan. 6.
That morning, as Trump incited the crowd gathered at the Ellipse, the defeated president broadcast the message to his second-in-command loud and clear.
“If Mike Pence does the right thing, we win the election. Mike Pence is going to have to come through for us and if he doesn’t, it will be a sad day for our country,” Trump said.
Ellis’ memo is the second one revealed by Karl that exposes the breadth of the pressure campaign on Pence. The first memo by John Eastman, Trump’s onetime attorney, offered a strategy featuring an altogether bogus scheme that would have Pence recognize an “alternate slate” of electors.
No such electors, however, have ever been appointed and Eastman’s contention also forgets that the U.S. Constitution provides no such power to the Vice President to serve as “ultimate arbiter” of the election.
Ellis, unlike Eastman, has not been subpoenaed by the Jan. 6 committee.