Donald Trump's second conspiracy to overturn the 2020 election
On June 17, I delivered a commentary stimulated by the earliest hearings of the January 6 Committee. In the longer, written version, I promised to return to the Committee’s work and explain the evidence about the second of two conspiracies against our country.
[The June 17 commentary audio and extended written version can be accessed at https://www.wamc.org/commentary-opinion/2022-06-17/what-i-am-learning-from-the-january-6-committee-hearings]
The first conspiracy that I detailed a month ago was Trump’s “willful ignorance.” He ignored people like Attorney General Barr (and others) who reiterated the fact that there was no evidence of significant enough voter fraud to undermine the results of the 2020 Presidential election. Despite being told that over and over again, Trump engaged in a conspiracy to in effect brainwash the public. The early hearings revealed details of the genesis of that conspiracy.
I propose now to take up the second conspiracy – the one that culminated with the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol. As many commentators have noted and as the members of the Committee have stated explicitly, Trump created the big lie that the election had been stolen. Once he had brainwashed a significant number of his credulous followers, he began to thrash around looking for ways to turn that lie into fact --- looking for ways to overturn the election.
First there were Court cases. They failed. Then there were efforts to get local officials on board. Perhaps the most egregious example is Trump’s call to the Secretary of State of Georgia to “find me the votes” so the vote total in Georgia would flip in Trump’s favor.
[For a particularly interesting example of a news report that also includes audio of Trump speaking with the Georgia Secretary of State see http://www.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/2101/04/CPT.01.html]
In a number of states, there were concerted efforts to send fake electors to Congress. All in all, 84 individuals from Arizona, Georgia, Wisconsin, Michigan, New Mexico, Nevada and Pennsylvania signed documents claiming to be “real” electors pledged to vote for Trump in states that had been won by Biden.
[For details see the Kira Lerner, “UPDATED Trump’s fake electors: Here’s the full list. 11 Arizonans were among 84 people who signed onto bogus election documents in 2020.”
Arizona Mirror, June 29, 2022, available at https://www.azmirror.com/2022/06/29/updated-trumps-fake-electors-heres-the-full-list/]
That ploy failed as well. When the Electoral College met on December 14, 2022 the electors cast their votes for the candidate who actually won more votes in all those states --- Joe Biden.
[By the way, by signing documents claiming to be “real” electors, the individuals almost certainly committed the crime of attempting to defraud the US government. The response of law enforcement has been uneven to say the least but at least some of these folks will face prosecution.]
With court cases failing and official office holders in states Trump was trying to flip refusing to play along with him, Trump settled on Plan C.
Plan C. unfolded after a very contentious, dramatic, profane, almost violent, meeting in the White House on December 18, 2020. I urge anyone who hasn’t checked out of video of the July 12 public hearing before the January 6 Committee to do so. Please remember, the testimony was by people who worked for Trump in the White House, including White House Counsel Pat Cipollone. He, Attorney General Barr and all other witnesses from inside the White House HAD WANTED TRUMP TO WIN. Had there been widespread evidence of fraud they would have publicized it and taken action.
[I keep urging sane people who have friends and relatives who have drunk Trump’s Kool Aid to continually ask them --- why would Republicans who wanted Trump to win willfully ignore massive voter fraud? Were they always secret opponents of Trump even as they worked diligently to support him? It makes no sense and hopefully more and more brainwashed Trump supporters will realize that and experience what St. Paul experienced on the “road to Damascus” when the “scales fell from his eyes.” We can hope, right? –- For the Biblical reference from ACTS see https://biblehub.com/acts/9-18.htm]
Cipollone testified that he learned that the “outside crazies” Guiliani, Powell, Flynn and Byrne had somehow gotten into the Oval Office and were presenting Trump with all sorts of conspiracy theories ---- the (long dead) Hugo Chavez of Venezuela and other international actors, with the connivance of the Dominion Company and their voting machines, had “flipped” Trump votes to Biden thereby stealing the election. Cipollone and his deputy then made a mad dash to Trump’s office and ended up in a six hour “discussion” with the crazies.
According to the testimony of Cipollone and others those six hours got so contentious that at one point one person challenged another to a fight – yes a PHYSICAL fight! The “sane” folks demanded that the “crazies” give them EVIDENCE to support their ridiculous claims. All they got were insults and accusations that they were not being loyal. Trump was there for the arguments. He heard his “crazies” not being able to give any evidence for their ridiculous claims.
Yet despite that, in the wee hours of the next morning, Trump began the second conspiracy with the famous invitation tweet calling his followers to DC on January 6 – promising “it will be wild.”
[Here is the actual text available from Trump’s White House: “Peter Navarro releases 36-page report alleging election fraud 'more than sufficient' to swing victory to Trump https://t.co/D8KrMHnFdK . A great report by Peter. Statistically impossible to have lost the 2020 Election. Big protest in D.C. on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!” --- available at https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/documents/tweets-december-19-2020. By the way, all the allegations in Navarro’s so-called “report” have been completely debunked --- most recently in great detail along with ALL OTHER claims by the “crazies” --- by 72 very prominent Republicans. For that very comprehensive report see Brian Rokus and Veronica Stracqualursi, “Prominent conservatives issue report rebutting Trump election claims” CNN Politics, July 14, 2022, available at https://www.cnn.com/2022/07/14/politics/conservatives-report-trump-2020-election-claims/index.html]
At the July 12 public hearing, the Committee’s researchers proved that the march to the Capitol was planned by Trump before January 6. An undated draft tweet written before January 6 is stamped “President has seen.” The text of the tweet promises a march on the Capitol. In other words, when Trump said, “We’re going to march to the Capitol” during his January 6 speech that was not a spontaneous spur of the moment decision. The draft tweet proves that he had planned for that march in advance.
And he wasn’t the only one in on the plan: The January 6 Committee released a January 4 exchange between the rally organizer (Kylie Kremer) and another prominent election denier (MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell). In one tweet from Kremer, it was clear that Trump had already made plans to have Trump call for protesters to march to either the Supreme Court or Capitol. Kremer urged the plan remain secret because she had never gotten a permit for that march.
[Rolling Stone covered this extensively. See Nikki McCann Ramirez, “Trump’s Team Said His Call for Capitol March Was a Surprise. They Lied. “POTUS is just going to call for it ‘unexpectedly’,” one rally organized told another via text message,” available at
Clearly, there was a criminal conspiracy to interfere with the lawful activities of the Congress of the United States. That conspiracy culminated in the January 6 insurrection. Attorney General Garland --- what more “evidence” do you need? Failure to indict Trump and his co-conspirators would be a serious dereliction of duty. Convene a Grand Jury and indict ALL the insurrectionists --- what the Hell are you waiting for?
Michael Meeropol is professor emeritus of Economics at Western New England University. He is the author with Howard and Paul Sherman of the recently published second edition of Principles of Macroeconomics: Activist vs. Austerity Policies
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