Trump lawyers battled White House on New Year's Eve 2020 over election fraud claims: new emails
Official 2020 White House Christmas portrait / White House photo

Email messages obtained by Axios flesh out the battle among Trump lawyers over whether the then-president should sign a verification to a lawsuit repeating debunked allegations of election fraud.

U.S. District Court Judge David Carter paraphrased some of the emails from outside Trump advisor John Eastman that he said documented "a conspiracy to defraud the United States."

"The emails obtained by Axios — which have also come to the attention of the Jan. 6 committee and DOJ, according to a source with direct knowledge — show correspondence between Herschmann, then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, and conservative activist and outside attorney Cleta Mitchell," Jonathan Swan and Zachary Basu reported. "Trump's executive assistant Molly Michael is CC'ed."

Mitchell emailed Meadows an "almost final version" of a lawsuit against Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.

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On New Year's Eve, Mitchell emailed a version that had been edited by Eastman.

Herschmann replied, "I will review now. I didn't send John edits, I explained that I was concerned about the President signing a verification about facts that may not be sustainable upon detailed scrutiny. I think that we should limit specific factual 'number' allegations to those that are necessary i.e., those allegations that demonstrate that the decision is outcome determinative."

The effort proceeded late into the night.

"With 30 minutes to midnight on New Year's Eve, 2020, Mitchell sent an email suggesting she was frustrated at Herschmann for slowing down the process and asking him to get on a call 'ASAP' with other members of Trump's outside legal team," Axios reported.

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The outside attorneys sought to get to sign and get notarized a verification, even though the final draft was neither completed nor attached.

"Herschmann told the outside lawyers he would not allow the president to sign a verification without sound documentation attached, and challenged the accuracy of the state-level lawsuit that had been filed in Georgia, the three sources said," Axios reported. "Together, the emails obtained by Axios and those reviewed by Judge Carter show that at least two of Trump's attorneys — Herschmann and Eastman — explicitly raised concerns about having the president sign a sworn statement making specific claims about voter fraud that were inaccurate."

Read the full report.