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Trump indictment highlights calls to lawmakers after Jan. 6 attack

Prosecutors contend Trump and others redoubled efforts after the violence to convince lawmakers to delay Biden's win

Trump rioters occupy the West Front of the Capitol and the inauguration stands on Jan. 6, 2021.
Trump rioters occupy the West Front of the Capitol and the inauguration stands on Jan. 6, 2021. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The indictment of Donald Trump laid out how prosecutors view attempts to reach members of Congress on Jan. 6, 2021, as evidence of a criminal effort to overturn the legitimate results of the 2020 presidential election.

The four-count grand jury indictment in Washington alleges five ways Trump and various co-conspirators sought to keep him in power, including actions after the attack on the Capitol threw the certification process into disarray.

The last of those: Prosecutors contend Trump and others exploited the attack on the Capitol by redoubling efforts to levy false election fraud claims and use them to convince lawmakers to further delay the certification of Joe Biden as the winner of the election.

The indictment signed by special counsel John L. “Jack” Smith details the efforts that took place in the hours after protesters broke into the Capitol around 2 p.m. and sent lawmakers fleeing and hiding.

At 3 p.m., Trump had a call with then-Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., where he told McCarthy that “the crowd was more upset about the election than the Minority Leader was.”

Prosecutors said Trump, through White House aides, attempted to reach two senators at 6 p.m. And from 6:59 p.m. to 7:18 p.m. a co-conspirator, who was not identified by name but is widely believed to be Rudy Giuliani because of details in the indictment, placed calls to five senators and one representative.

The indictment describes the co-conspirator as an attorney “willing to spread knowingly false claims.”

The indictment states that in one message intended for a senator, that co-conspirator said: “We need you, our Republican friends, to try to just slow it down so we can get these legislatures to get more information to you.”

“And I know they’re reconvening at eight tonight but the only strategy we can follow is to object to numerous states and raise issues so that we get ourselves into tomorrow — ideally until the end of tomorrow,” the co-conspirator said.

The co-conspirator left a message intended for another senator that repeated false election fraud allegations, saying that “illegal immigrants” had voted in significant numbers in Arizona, and “Georgia gave you a number in which 65,000 people who were underage voted.”

The co-conspirator also asked the senator to “object to every state and kind of spread this out a little bit like a filibuster,” according to the indictment.

Those calls were placed minutes after then-Vice President Mike Pence returned to the Capitol from a loading dock, according to a final report from the House select panel that investigated the attack.

At 7:01 p.m., a White House attorney called Trump to ask him to “withdraw any objections and allow the certification,” but the president refused, according to federal prosecutors.

The Senate came back into session at 8:06 p.m., and both chambers came together for a joint session at 11:35 p.m. according to the indictment.

At around 11:45 p.m. that night, a separate Trump co-conspirator, widely reported to be John Eastman, emailed Pence’s counsel and pushed for the then-vice president to “violate the law and seek further delay of the certification,” the indictment states.

“I implore you to consider one more relatively minor violation [of the ECA] and adjourn for 10 days to allow the legislatures to finish their investigations, as well as to allow a full forensic audit of the massive amount of illegal activity that has occurred here,” wrote the co-conspirator, according to the indictment.

But the ask was a dud. Hours later, in the morning hours of Jan. 7, 2021, congressional lawmakers certified the presidential election for Biden.

The final report from the House select panel that investigated the attack identified the sender of the email as John Eastman.

The indictment, which was released Tuesday, states Trump and his allies organized their own false slates of electors in 2020 battleground states that Biden won, and even tried to mimic the procedures that legitimate electors were set to follow.

The indictment also alleged that Trump used an intermediary to attempt to have a senator hand Pence a set of certificates signed by the fake electors from Michigan and Wisconsin.

The indictment did not name the senator and said that when a member of the senator’s staff contacted a member of Pence’s staff about handing over the certificates, the Pence staff member rejected the offer.

The report from the House select panel that investigated the attack said that staff for Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., had the certificates.

Michael Macagnone contributed to this report.

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