Over the course of the last year, the public has learned in frightening detail just how far Donald Trump and his team went to pressure then-Vice President Mike Pence to help overturn the 2020 election results. The scope of those efforts, however, continues to come into sharper focus.
ABC News reported over the weekend, for example, on a new revelation from Jonathan Karl's new book, "Betrayal: The Final Act of the Trump Show."
In a memo not made public until now, then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows emailed to Vice President Mike Pence's top aide, on New Year's Eve, a detailed plan for undoing President Joe Biden's election victory, ABC News' Chief Washington Correspondent Jonathan Karl reports.
According to the reporting, which has not been independently verified by MSNBC or NBC News, Jenna Ellis, one of the then-president's campaign lawyers, drafted a memo that outlined a multi-step political strategy. Under Ellis' plan, when Congress was supposed to certify the election results on Jan. 6, Pence would unilaterally decide to send back the electoral votes from several states where Trump lost, but he wishes he'd won.
At that point, the then-vice president would give the relevant states a deadline of Jan. 15, at which point they'd send back new votes that Republicans liked better. States that missed the deadline would be excluded from the overall count.
And if enough states missed the deadline, no candidate would be able to receive a majority of electoral college votes, which in turn would empower congressional Republicans to keep Trump in office, despite his defeat.
To be sure, by any fair measure, this strategy was utterly bonkers. Nevertheless, on New Year's Eve, the then-White House chief of staff thought it'd be a good idea to send a copy directly to Pence's top aide, as part of an effort to lobby the then-vice president to help overturn the results of an American election that Trump didn't like.
A day later, ABC News' report added, there was yet another memo:
The day after Meadows sent Ellis' memo to Pence's aide, on Jan. 1, Trump aide John McEntee sent another memo to Pence's chief of staff, Marc Short, titled, "Jefferson used his position as VP to win." Although McEntee's memo was historically incorrect, Karl says, his message was clear: Jefferson took advantage of his position, and Pence must do the same.
So, let's take stock.
John Eastman, one of Trump's controversial attorneys, wrote an outrageous memo, which was effectively a blueprint Republican officials could follow to reject the results of the election and keep the losing candidate in power.
Jeffrey Clark, a former Justice Department official, also used his office to sketch out a map for Republican legislators to follow in which they could try to overturn the will of voters.
Jenna Ellis, a member of Trump's campaign team, also wrote an anti-election memo.
And John McEntee, a White House aide, prepared his own anti-election memo.
We now know, of course, that Pence grudgingly concluded he couldn't help Trump steal an election. But that doesn't change the fact that the campaign to change his mind represents an important national scandal.
We've reached an awkward point in American history: When the political debate turns to Team Trump's coup memo, we now have to ask, "Which one?"