There’s the memo written by lawyer John Eastman outlining how then-Vice President Mike Pence could overturn the 2020 election results on Jan. 6, 2021. Memos by Trump campaign lawyer Jenna Ellis also laid out claims that Pence could halt the elector count.
As the phony elector slates first published by American Oversight last year draw renewed scrutiny — including from the Justice Department and the House select committee — we can see even more clearly how much the focus was on the Jan. 6 Electoral College certification. But wait, there are more memos:
- On Wednesday, the New York Times reported on two other memos that “were used by Mr. Trump’s top lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, and others like John Eastman as they developed a strategy intended to exploit ambiguities in the Electoral Count Act.”
- The Nov. 18 and Dec. 9 memos were sent by lawyer Kenneth Chesebro to James Troupis, a lawyer for the Trump campaign in Wisconsin, and “are among the earliest known efforts to put on paper proposals for preparing alternate electors.”
- The Times also highlighted two other memos recently obtained and published by American Oversight that had been sent to Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Arizona Senate President Karen Fann regarding whether their respective state legislatures had the power to alter the selection or actions of electors after the election had taken place.
- Vos and Fann appear to have requested that information in November; the memos confirmed they could not legally change the elector slates.
Efforts to fix those aforementioned “ambiguities” in the Electoral Count Act have been made more difficult, reports Politico, thanks to former President Trump’s frequent attacks and continued false insistence that the election was stolen from him.
- In fact, Trump brazenly stated earlier this week that Pence “could have overturned the Election,” falsely saying that the vice president had “the right to change the outcome.”
- Trump also said during a rally in Texas that if he wins the presidency in 2024, he will “treat those people from Jan. 6 fairly,” adding that he would give the rioters pardons.
- That wasn’t the first time he’d floated the idea of exercising presidential pardon powers to bail out those responsible for storming the U.S. Capitol — Politico also reported that Trump had “seriously considered issuing a blanket pardon” for the rioters during the final days of his presidency.
New details have also emerged about Trump’s direct involvement in the scheme to seize control of voting machines and communications in the weeks after the election. Which brings us to another memo:
- The Washington Post obtained a copy of a Dec. 18 memo proposing that Trump use the National Security Agency and the Defense Department to comb through electronic communications in a desperate attempt to find proof that foreign countries had interfered in the election.
- The memo “in some ways mirrors other radical ideas that extremists who denied Biden’s victory were working to sell to Trump,” including the proposals for seizing voting machines in states he lost.
- Not only had Trump allies written a draft executive order directing the Pentagon to take the machines, another was drafted for the Department of Homeland Security, reported CNN. That’s on top of Trump’s reported suggestion in November to then-Attorney General William Barr that the Justice Department seize them, which Barr shot down.
Other headlines related to the Jan. 6 investigation and Trump’s efforts to overturn the election:
- Fulton DA seeks FBI’s aid as Trump probe advances (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
- Conspiracy charges possible for filing bogus Trump election slates, experts say (NBC News)
- Jan. 6 select committee subpoenas phone records of Arizona GOP chair (Politico)
- Mike Pence’s former chief of staff testifies in House Jan. 6 investigation (CNN)
- Some records sent to Jan. 6 committee were torn up, taped back together — mirroring a Trump habit (Washington Post)
- Former Trump DOJ official Jeffrey Clark met with Jan. 6 committee for nearly two hours (CNN)
- Who pushed outrage over Detroit’s ballots? Jan. 5 House panel wants to know (Detroit News)
- Sen. Ron Johnson participated in a Jan. 4, 2021, session at a Trump hotel on the potential delay of the election certification (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
The Coronavirus Pandemic
This week, Pfizer-BioNTech submitted to the FDA for review its vaccine for children under 5, which could be available to the public as early as the end of the month. An FDA advisory panel will vote on approval on Feb. 15, followed by review from the CDC.
Deaths per capita in the U.S. are the highest among large, high-income countries, despite the U.S. having one of the world’s largest supply of vaccines. As many countries including the U.S. begin to loosen pandemic restrictions, the World Health Organization warned against adopting a consensus that “preventing transmission is no longer possible, and no longer necessary.” Scientists are also tracking BA.2, a subvariant of omicron that is beginning to spread through Asia and Europe and appears to be more transmissible than other variants.
Hospitalizations are on a downward trend while deaths average around 2,600 per day.
- In the early months of the coronavirus pandemic, U.S. officials encountered problems related to testing, shortages of personal protective equipment, and a Trump administration frequently focused on politics over public health. American Oversight has created a timeline of communications exchanged from January through April 2020, providing insight into early confusion around the pandemic.
- Only about a quarter of the Paycheck Protection Program’s funds went toward the program’s stated goal of paying wages that would otherwise have been lost. Inefficiencies resulted in 72 percent of the $800 billion in relief money going to those whose household income is in the country’s top 20 percent, according to a study.
- The Biden administration struggled to procure test kits and turned at first to little-known companies after its announcement that it would send 500 million free rapid tests to households across the country. Nearly half of U.S. households have ordered test kits through the USPS website, although health experts say the program came too late to soften the impacts of the omicron surge.
- A study of 177 countries and territories found that trust in government was the No. 1 indicator of pandemic preparedness.
- The Special Inspector General for Pandemic Recovery, which oversees pandemic-related stimulus aid, warned Congress that the office is running out of funds and could be forced to close as soon as the summer.
- The U.S. Army will begin discharging soldiers who are not vaccinated.
- The omicron variant is surging through U.S. prisons, with incarcerated people three times more likely to die from Covid-19 than members of the general population.
- Last week saw more than 3,100 Covid infections among immigrants in detention centers, far above the previous peak of 2,100 last May, according to the Vera Institute of Justice.
- As many as 15 million people could lose their Medicaid coverage after the federal public health emergency expires this year and requires states to audit their Medicaid rolls.
On the Records
USPS’s New Mail Trucks
The White House and the EPA this week urged the U.S. Postal Service to halt its multibillion-dollar plan to build a new fleet of gas-powered mail trucks, a plan that was announced a year ago when the contract was awarded to manufacturer Oshkosh Defense. That deal had been roundly criticized, especially in light of Biden’s pledge to transition to an all-electric government vehicle fleet.
- We obtained documents from USPS that include the evaluation criteria used to select a new fleet manufacturer, as well as Oshkosh’s initial contract for nearly $482 million.
- The evaluation criteria explicitly mentioned fuel efficiency and a “path to alternate fuel vehicles” among factors the agency would be considering.
- Oshkosh’s design features a fuel engine that only offers a small improvement on the current fleet’s mileage, and USPS and Postmaster General Louis DeJoy have walked back commitments that the new fleet could be “retrofitted to keep pace” with new alternative fuel technologies.
Election Takeover in Georgia’s Spalding County
As proponents of the stolen-election lie campaign for positions that would allow them to oversee elections, partisan takeovers of election administration have already been happening in counties across the country. In Georgia’s Spalding County, a law was passed last spring to change the county’s Board of Elections by replacing the fifth member with an appointee selected by county judges.
- The Guardian reported this week on the selection of that fifth member, which took place last year in a private meeting.
- “In the end, the judges chose a Republican, someone who had never served in a government position related to elections, to be the fifth and deciding vote for the Spalding county board of elections and registration. Almost immediately, that Republican, James Newland, cast that deciding vote to cancel Sunday voting — a historically heavy turnout day for Black, largely Democratic voters.”
- The Guardian cited emails we reported on in December from county officials who were caught off-guard by the new law, which stripped one of the Democrats on the board of her position for not living in the county. “This bill is an attempt to change the composition of the Board of Elections and to remove the Elections Supervisor and three board members who happen to be African American,” wrote one board member.
Other Stories We’re Following
Election Reviews and the Big Lie
- ‘One throat to choke’: Wisconsin Republican governor candidates Kleefisch and Nicholson call for dismantling the Elections Commission (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
- Wisconsin elections commissioner says fellow Republicans are looking for a scapegoat after Trump’s loss (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
- Wisconsin Republicans who posed as electors met in a ‘secret location,’ brought armed security with them, one member says (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
- U.S. Senate candidate Jim Lamon explains why he falsely claimed to be an Arizona elector (Arizona Republic)
- ‘Quintessential fishing expeditions’: Voting machine company rejects Gableman’s election subpoenas as invalid (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
- A judge has allowed Voces de la Frontera to join a lawsuit challenging subpoenas in the GOP election review (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
- A GOP Senate candidate walks ‘rigged election’ tightrope in Nevada (NBC News)
- Court revokes oil and gas leases, citing climate change (New York Times)
- Exxon Mobil reports a $8.9 billion fourth-quarter profit as oil prices soar (New York Times)
- Why big chains thrived while small restaurants died (Mother Jones)
- How Trump’s political groups are spending their huge cash haul (Politico)
In the States
- Republican-led states rush to pass anti-abortion bills before Supreme Court rules on Roe (Washington Post)
- Public funding is pouring into Texas’ anti-abortion pregnancy centers while abortion access hangs in the balance (Mother Jones)
- Former lawmaker’s bank, phone records to be released in ‘ghost’ candidate case (Orlando Sentinel)
- Cyberattacks increasingly hobble pandemic-weary U.S. schools (Associated Press)
- Here are 50 books Texas parents want banned from school libraries (NBC News)
- School voucher lobby flexes its muscles in Wisconsin (Wisconsin Examiner)
- Ranking Dem says GOP attorney general blocked her from lawyers in redistricting suit (Ohio Capital Journal)
- Ohio Redistricting Commission asks state Supreme Court to put new maps into place anyway (WOSU News)
- Florida halts redistricting effort after DeSantis asks Florida Supreme Court to weigh in (Politico)
- Deplorable conditions, unclear mission: Texas National Guard troops call Abbott’s rushed border operation a disaster (Texas Tribune)
- DeSantis aims to block state cash from companies flying immigrant children. None receive any, records show (Politico)
- Cases dismissed, judges replaced: Texas struggles to prosecute migrants (New York Times)
- The disillusionment of a young Biden official (New Yorker)