Arizona Republicans were warned that creating a group of fake electors could look 'treasonous'

An email revealed by the New York Times from Donald Trump's campaign lawyer Kenneth Chesebro warned two Arizona Republicans that the fake electors scheme could "appear treasonous."

"Kelli Ward, the chairwoman of the Arizona Republican Party, and Kelly Townsend, a state senator, were both said to have expressed concerns to Mr. Trump’s lawyers in December 2020 about participating in a plan to sign on to a slate of electors claiming that Mr. Trump had won Arizona, even though Joseph R. Biden Jr. had won the state," said the Times.

The email came on Dec. 11, 2020, three days before the states were to finalize their Electoral College results.

As Times reporter Maggie Haberman tweeted, the timeline is important because at that point, there was no legal actions happening in Arizona at that point. The campaign requested the fake electors meet and vote.

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"Ward and Townsend are concerned it could appear treasonous for the AZ electors to vote on Monday if there is no pending court proceeding that might, eventually, lead to the electors being ratified as the legitimate ones,” Chesebro wrote in the email, according to the Times. Rudy Giuliani, Trump's personal lawyer for a time, was copied on the email.

He emphasized the word "treasonous" in bold text.

The fake electors scheme has become part of an investigation by the Justice Department into whether fraud was committed. In Arizona, it's against state laws for the official seal of the state to be used on unofficial documents. Arizona's Republican Attorney General Mark Brnovich has refused to move forward with any prosecutions, however. By contrast, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel conducted a probe into the fake electors in her state and referred her findings to the Justice Department.

Haberman noted that it's another revelation that Arizona Republicans were concerned about the legality of the fake electors scheme.

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Previous reports from the Times cited Arizona-based lawyer Jack Wilenchik, who said over email that the fake electors "aren't legal under federal law" and consistently called them "fake." Wilenchik then pressured the Trump team to quickly file papers with the Supreme Court to dispute the Arizona election results.

“Reason is that Kelli Ward & Kelly Townsend just spoke to the mayor about the campaign’s request that all electors vote Monday in all contested states,” Chesebro wrote to Wilenchik, referencing a conversation with Giuliani.

Townsend refused to sign the document, but Ward did. Both have been subpoenaed by the Justice Department.