Former President Donald Trump’s attorney Jenna Ellis was personally involved in the effort to lobby Vice President Mike Pence and persuade him to interfere with efforts to certify the 2020 election results, a new book reveals.
In Betrayal, the final book of ABC News correspondent Jonathan Karl’s look into the Trump presidency, Karl reports that Ms Ellis authored a memo that outlined her own strategy for reversing the will of the voters.
Hers is the second reported effort of such type from Mr Trump’s legal team; John Eastman, another lawyer for the president, outlined a scheme that would have seen Mr Pence acknowledge so-called “alternate” slates of electors selected by state governments in states where the Trump campaign contested the result, though no such electors were ever appointed.
Ms Ellis’s plan was reportedly similar to Mr Eastman’s, according to excerpts reported on Sunday on ABC News. But Ms Ellis’s plan did not rely on states acquiescing to the president’s calls for Republican legislatures to submit alternate slates of electors. Instead, Mr Pence would give contested states a nine-day stretch of time to send in supposedly correct results; if a state missed the deadline, or presumably if state officials returned results once again stating that President Joe Biden had won, their electoral college votes would not be accepted.
Such a scheme, if enacted, would have resulted in Mr Trump’s campaign either winning by electoral vote total or having the election decided in the House of Representatives, where the system allowing each state delegation one vote would have likely thrown the election in Mr Trump’s favour. There’s no provision in the Constitution allowing the vice president to unilaterally make such a decision, however; only a vote by both the House and Senate can nullify a state’s results.
The reports of the concerted effort to lobby Mr Pence are likely to only increase the scrutiny on those around both the former vice president and the former president’s legal team by the House select committee investigating the 6 January attack on the US Capitol. The committee has indicated a clear interest in investigating the efforts by Mr Trump to pressure his vice president into attempting interference on the day of the electoral vote count in Congress.
In Karl’s book the former president also confirms in an interview that he told Mr Pence “[y]ou can be a patriot or you can be a p****”, using a sexist slur, while urging Mr Pence to follow his plan on the day of the 6 January attack.
Mr Pence, for his part, has continued to defend his decision to go along with the certification of Mr Biden’s victory in recent weeks, and responded simply with “James Madison”, when asked earlier this month who had convinced him to break with his boss.
The Independent has reached out to Ms Ellis for comment.