This editorial appeared in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on June 7:
ST. LOUIS (Tribune News Service) — A core question regarding former President Donald Trump’s extensive attempts to overturn the 2020 election was whether he actually believed the election-fraud lies he was peddling or if he understood all along that he had legitimately lost and he was merely using those lies to attempt to remain in office.
A newly revealed email, in which a top Trump campaign official specifically directed fake Trump electors in Georgia to hide their scheme, indicates it was the latter. The Capitol mob’s attempt to prevent Joe Biden’s confirmation as the elected new president on Jan. 6, 2021, was only the most obvious and violent manifestation of a multipronged effort by Trump’s campaign to retain power. Part of that effort involved dozens of court filings alleging mass voter fraud, all of which failed.
The campaign, and Trump personally, also worked key state election officials behind the scenes. “I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have” in losing Georgia, Trump infamously (and fruitlessly) told Georgia’s Republican secretary of state. That request came pretty close to smoking-gun proof that Trump wasn’t innocently delusional about the election outcome but that he knew he’d lost and was trying to skew the results.
The email, obtained this week by The Washington Post and CNN, is further proof that the people running Trump’s campaign also knew fully well what they were doing.
The email, part of a Justice Department investigation, is from Robert Sinners, a top Trump campaign official in Georgia, to a group of Republicans who were part of a scheme to file competing slates of electors for Trump in key states that he lost. The scheme was designed to sow doubt about the outcomes in those states by claiming these fake electors were the legitimate ones.
In the email, though, Sinners directed the fake electors to engage in a level of secrecy about their plan that makes it difficult to argue the participants genuinely believed they were the legitimate electors as they entered the Georgia statehouse to file their votes in mid-December of 2020.
“I must ask for your complete discretion in this process,” Sinners wrote. “Your duties are imperative to ensure the end result — a win in Georgia for President Trump — but will be hampered unless we have complete secrecy and discretion.”
As part of that “discretion,” he directed them to lie to statehouse security about why they were there, concocting fake meetings with Republican legislators. “Please, at no point should you mention anything to do with presidential electors or speak to media.”
That doesn’t sound like someone who is trying to stop the theft of an election but rather is trying to steal one. That factor should figure into the upcoming House hearings regarding Jan. 6 — and into the question of whether Trump and those around him should face prosecution.
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