Settlement in Wisconsin fake elector case offers new details on the strategy by Trump lawyers

Lawyer Kenneth Chesebro is sworn in during a plea deal hearing on Oct. 20 at the Fulton County Courthouse in Atlanta. (Alyssa Pointer/Pool Photo via AP, File)

Two attorneys for then-President Donald Trump orchestrated a plan for fake electors to file paperwork falsely saying the Republican won Wisconsin in a strategy to overturn Joe Biden’s 2020 victory there and in other swing states, according to a lawsuit settlement reached Monday that makes public months of texts and emails.

Under their agreements, Kenneth Chesebro and Jim Troupis turned over more than 1,400 pages of documents, emails and text messages, along with photos and video, offering a detailed account of the scheme’s origins in Wisconsin. The communications show how they, with coordination from Trump campaign officials, replicated the strategy in six other states including Georgia, where Chesebro has already pleaded guilty to charges stemming from the 2020 election.


The agreements settle a civil lawsuit brought by Democrats in 2022 against the two attorneys and 10 Republicans in Wisconsin who posed as fake electors. The Republicans settled in December.

“Our democracy demands better than this,” said Scott Thompson, one of the plaintiffs’ attorneys who helped negotiate the agreements. “That is why this lawsuit … consistently sought transparency, accountability and deterrence. We can’t let this happen again.”

There is no admission of wrongdoing or liability in the agreements in which Chesebro and Troupis promise to never participate in similar efforts involving future presidential campaigns. Troupis must also pay an undisclosed amount to the plaintiffs.

Troupis said Monday in an emailed statement that the “alternate elector ballots” were “a reasonable course of action” given that the 2020 results were appealable to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“The settlement was made to avoid endless litigation, and nothing in today’s settlement constitutes an admission of fault, nor should it,” he added.

Phone and text messages left Monday for Chesebro weren’t immediately returned.

Electors are people appointed to represent voters in presidential elections. The winner of the popular vote in each state determines which party’s electors are sent to the Electoral College, which meets in December after the election to certify the outcome.

The documents show how Chesebro and Troupis, Trump’s attorney in Wisconsin, used arcane laws in rationalizing and drafting the false certificates for the fake electors. They also reveal how the two strategized ways to delay deadlines for certifying electoral votes and sway public opinion, including floating ideas on conservative talk radio.

In November 2020, as they were awaiting a decision from the then-conservative leaning Wisconsin Supreme Court on Trump’s effort to invalidate thousands of votes in the state, Chesebro suggested to Troupis that they contact conservative radio hosts in Milwaukee and Madison: “Mostly to maximize the chance that SCOW (Supreme Court of Wisconsin) justices hear about this quickly and prejudge the case?”

He ended with a winking emoji.

The fake elector efforts are central to an August federal indictment filed against Trump alleging he tried to overturn results of the 2020 election. Federal prosecutors, investigating his conduct related to the Jan. 6, 2021, U.S. Capitol riot, have also said the scheme originated in Wisconsin. Trump also faces charges in Georgia and has denied wrongdoing.

Michigan and Nevada have criminally charged fake electors, but there’s no known criminal investigation in Wisconsin.

Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul, a Democrat, has suggested he’s relying on federal investigators while also not ruling out a state probe. Attorneys who negotiated the settlement said information in the documents has already been provided to Kaul’s office.

Monday’s agreements were announced by Georgetown University Law Center’s Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection, Law Forward and the Madison-based Stafford Rosenbaum law firm.

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