Home U.S. News Architect of Fake Electors Scheme Appeared to Be Outside Capitol on Jan. 6

Architect of Fake Electors Scheme Appeared to Be Outside Capitol on Jan. 6

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Architect of Fake Electors Scheme Appeared to Be Outside Capitol on Jan. 6

Photographs and videos reviewed by The New York Times suggest that Kenneth Chesebro, one of the legal architects of former President Donald J. Trump’s attempts to overturn the results of the 2020 election, was in the crowd outside the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, and spent part of that day closely following the conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, who helped lead a mob toward the building.

Mr. Chesebro did not appear to have illegally entered the Capitol, as did hundreds of other rioters, or commit any violence.

But the photographs and videos appearing to show him marching with Mr. Jones, the proprietor of Infowars, and members of his entourage — including Ali Alexander, a prominent “Stop the Steal” organizer — were the first time that one of the many aides and lawyers who helped the former president try to subvert the democratic process with controversial legal theories was also found to have had a connection to pro-Trump activists who were on the ground during the Capitol attack.

Mr. Chesebro’s presence at the Capitol was reported earlier by CNN. His lawyer did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment.

It remains unclear why Mr. Chesebro was with Mr. Jones’s group outside the Capitol or how he came to be with them. A lawyer for Mr. Jones said that Mr. Jones was unaware that Mr. Chesebro had been following his entourage that day.

Mr. Chesebro was charged this week as one of Mr. Trump’s 18 co-defendants in a sprawling racketeering indictment brought by the district attorney’s office in Fulton County, Ga. That indictment accused him of taking part in a sweeping plot to create slates of so-called fake electors pledged to Mr. Trump in several key swing states that Joseph R. Biden Jr. had won.

Mr. Chesebro also appeared as an unnamed co-conspirator in a similar federal indictment brought against Mr. Trump in Washington this month by prosecutors working for the special counsel, Jack Smith. Mr. Chesebro wrote three memos in November and December 2020, which prosecutors used to trace the evolution of the fake elector plan and an attempt to use it as part of a broader effort to pressure Vice President Mike Pence to throw the election to Mr. Trump during a joint session of Congress on Jan. 6, 2021.

Wearing a red MAGA hat, Mr. Chesebro can be seen joining Mr. Jones’s group outside the Capitol shortly before 2 p.m. that day, according to the photographs and video reviewed by The Times. The visual evidence shows he stayed with Mr. Jones, Mr. Alexander and others — including Owen Shroyer, one of Mr. Jones’s top aides — for about an hour and a half, often filming Mr. Jones on his cellphone as the group walked around the Capitol and went partly up the stairs outside the east front of the building.

Mr. Jones and Mr. Alexander were among the first “Stop the Steal” activists to draw attention from federal prosecutors investigating the Capitol riot. As early as April 2022, Mr. Jones reached out to the Justice Department in an unsuccessful effort to secure an immunity deal in exchange for information. Mr. Alexander was subpoenaed by — and ultimately testified to — a grand jury in Washington that was looking into various aspects of the attack.

As for Mr. Shroyer, he pleaded guilty in June to a single count of illegally entering and remaining on the Capitol’s restricted grounds.

It was a remarkable turns of events that Mr. Chesebro, an obscure lawyer versed in the complexities of election law, appeared to be seen on video marching on Jan. 6 with two of the main “Stop the Steal” activists who helped lead the mob to the Capitol from Mr. Trump’s speech near the White House that day. The convergence of someone who took part in the legal attempts to keep Mr. Trump in power with those who were central to bringing the force of a crowd to bear as Congress was certifying the election results was a powerful reminder of how many mysteries remain where Jan. 6 is concerned.

Until now, there appeared to be different tentacles of the efforts to keep Mr. Trump in power that had not overlapped. But Mr. Chesebro hinted at those connections in an email exchange with John Eastman, another lawyer who was instrumental in the plan to pressure Mr. Pence with the fake elector scheme.

In late December 2020, the two lawyers discussed how to get a case before the Supreme Court. Mr. Chesebro told Mr. Eastman as they discussed filing a legal action that in terms of the highest court, the “odds of action before Jan. 6 will become more favorable if the justices start to fear that there will be ‘wild’ chaos on Jan. 6 unless they rule by then, either way.”

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