Former President Donald Trump’s most recent indictment includes six unnamed co-conspirators, who were “enlisted…to assist him in his criminal efforts to overturn the legitimate results of the 2020 presidential election and retain power.”
Based on the details provided in the indictment, the co-conspirators listed as attorneys are presumed to be: (1) Rudy Giuliani, (2) John Eastman, (3) Sidney Powell, (4) Jeffrey Clark and (5) Kenneth Chesebro. The sixth is more speculative than the others, but details in the indictment suggest it may be political operative Boris Epshteyn.
Experts believe that their names were kept out of last week’s indictment to avoid scheduling conflicts and time delays that come with multiple co-defendants. It also may be a tactic to encourage cooperation from the co-conspirators in exchange for avoiding their own charges. Or, it could be that special counsel Jack Smith’s office believes that while they have enough evidence to prove Trump is guilty beyond reasonable doubt, they may not have evidence to sustain convictions for the other six. It is speculated that if separate indictments for the co-conspirators are to be returned, it will happen in the coming days ahead of the scheduling hearing in the case that is set for Aug. 28.
With impressive credentials and lengthy resumes, the alleged co-conspirators are neither inexperienced nor particularly vulnerable to the usual threats, like job loss, that often come with ill-advised decisions. These presumed co-conspirators knew well enough that their lawsuits were baseless when they committed themselves to Trump’s post-election machinations.
With their names appearing on the pages of 10 of the 65 lawsuits filed by the Trump campaign and its allies in the days and weeks following Nov. 8, 2020, their notoriety and knowledge as lawyers were critical to the campaign’s nationwide effort to overturn the presidential election. The co-conspirators acted with such gall that everyone is asking: “who do they think they are?”
“Co-Conspirator 1, an attorney who was willing to spread knowingly false claims and pursue strategies that the Defendant’s 2020 re-election campaign attorneys would not.”
Perhaps the most infamous of the alleged co-conspirators, Giuliani was a constant public figure throughout Trump’s 2020 campaign, from the Four Seasons Total Landscaping press conference to the rally immediately preceding the attack on the Capitol. Notably, at that Jan. 6 rally, Giuliani called for “trial by combat” as another alleged co-conspirator, John Eastman, stood by his side. One of Giuliani’s attorneys has confirmed that he appears to be co-conspirator 1.
Post-election involvement: According to the bar disciplinary committee in Washington, D.C. that recommended he be disbarred, Giuliani’s involvement in Donald J. Trump for President, Inc. v. Boockvar — a case alleging that election fraud took place in Democratic counties in Pennsylvania and failed to present any such evidence — “helped destabilize our democracy.” Giuliani argued for this case in court.
The panel also underscored how Giuliani’s actions put the entire legal field in jeopardy: “Finally, public confidence in our courts, the law, and the legal profession are very much at stake in this unprecedented case. We cannot blind ourselves to the broader context in which Mr. Giuliani’s misconduct took place. It was calculated to undermine the basic premise of our democratic form of government: that elections are determined by the voters.”
“Co-Conspirator 2, an attorney who devised and attempted to implement a strategy to leverage the Vice President’s ceremonial role overseeing the certification proceeding to obstruct the certification of the presidential election.”
Eastman, who rallied the Jan. 6 crowd with unfounded claims of voter fraud, started out his career by clerking for the respected, conservative Judge Michael Luttig, followed by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Almost three decades later, Luttig railed against Eastman’s efforts to use the fringe independent state legislature theory to subvert constitutional order. Via statement, a lawyer for Eastman has implicitly admitted he is likely co-conspirator 2. Eastman has also filed a motion to stay his disbarment proceedings in light of this indictment, further corroborating his identity.
Post-election involvement: In late 2020, Eastman helped manufacture bogus legal theories in support of Trump’s attempts to overturn the presidential election results. Eastman is responsible for sending a six-page memo entitled “January 6 scenario” to a Trump campaign attorney and legal advisor that outlined the unilateral action that then-Vice President Mike Pence could take with respect to the electoral votes of Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. The memo presented an outlandish, unconstitutional plan for how Pence could declare Trump the winner of the electoral college and the presidency.
Beyond working behind the scenes orchestrating Trump’s legal strategy, Eastman was directly involved in a smattering of post-election cases. He appeared on the papers in: Donald J. Trump for President, Inc. v. Boockvar, the lawsuit brought by the Trump campaign against the Philadelphia Board of Elections; Texas v. Pennsylvania, the lawsuit brought by the state of Texas against Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin; and Trump v. Kemp, the lawsuit brought by Trump seeking to decertify Georgia’s presidential election results.
Bar Status: Disbarment proceedings ongoing in California.
“Co-Conspirator 3, an attorney whose unfounded claims of election fraud the Defendant privately acknowledged to others sounded ‘crazy.’ Nonetheless, the Defendant embraced and publicly amplified Co-Conspirator 3 ‘s disinformation.”
A Texas-based attorney, Powell was booted from Trump’s legal team following the infamous 90-minute press conference, where she claimed Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) were paid by Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez (who died in 2013) to manipulate Dominion Voting Systems machines. When Powell was later faced with a massive defamation lawsuit from Dominion, she attempted to retract her outrageous conspiracy theories by stating “no reasonable person” could believe what she said were “statements of fact.”
Post-election involvement: Powell vowed to “release the Kraken” following the 2020 election. In Georgia, which she declared was “the first state [she was] going to blow up,” she was a part of the legal team in Pearson v. Kemp, which sought to decertify the state’s presidential election results based on allegations that Dominion Voting equipment “rigged” the election in favor of President Joe Biden.
“Co-Conspirator 4, a Justice Department official who worked on civil matters and who, with the Defendant, attempted to use the Justice Department to open sham election crime investigations and influence state legislatures with knowingly false claims of election fraud.”
Clark, an environmental lawyer, was a high-ranking official at the Department of Justice (DOJ), where Trump appointed Clark as acting assistant attorney general for the Civil Division in September 2020. Trump also planned to install Clark as the acting attorney general at the DOJ to prevent the peaceful transfer of power before mass resignations were threatened. As Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) stated during the Jan. 6 Committee hearings, Clark had “no experience relevant to leading the entire Department of Justice. What was his only qualification? That he would do whatever the president wanted him to do, including overthrowing a free and fair democratic election.”
Post-election involvement: In the post-election period, Clark pushed leaders at the DOJ to sign a letter that stated the agency had reason to believe that the presidential election results were illegitimate. The letter was going to be sent to officials in the swing states that Biden won and encourage them to reconvene their legislatures and send alternate, pro-Trump electors. Clark saw “no valid downsides to sending out the letter,” but had no takers on his proposal.
Bar Status: Disbarment proceedings in Washington, D.C. cleared to continue.
“Co-Conspirator 5, an attorney who assisted in devising and attempting to implement a plan to submit fraudulent slates of presidential electors to obstruct the certification proceeding.”
If you are asking who alleged co-conspirator 5 is, you are not alone. Chesebro is the least well-known of the presumed group. A Harvard Law graduate and an appellate lawyer based in Texas, Chesebro played an outsized role in devising the plan to overturn the presidential election, given how little is known about him.
Post-election involvement: Chesebro was the first to suggest that slates of pro-Trump electors be organized ahead of Jan. 6. According to testimony given to the Jan. 6 Committee, he began developing the plan after he was approached by former judge, James Troupis, in Wisconsin to staff the recount lawsuit Trump v. Biden. Chesebro, ultimately, authored the memo that, according to the indictment, became “a corrupt plan to subvert the federal government function by stopping Biden electors votes from being counted and certified.” Per an email in the indictment, an unnamed attorney in Arizona said of the plan unveiled by Chesebro, “Kind of wild/creative … We would just be sending in ‘fake’ electoral votes to Pence so that ‘someone’ in Congress can make an objection when they start counting votes, and start arguing that the ‘fake’ votes should be counted.”
Chesebro was also involved in the Wisconsin absentee ballot counting challenge in Trump v. Evers.
Bar Status: Pending ethics complaint in New York.
“Co-Conspirator 6, a political consultant who helped implement a plan to submit fraudulent slates of presidential electors to obstruct the certification proceeding.”
The least obvious of the unnamed co-conspirators is the last listed in the indictment. However, details, specifically emails in the indictment, suggest that co-conspirator 6 may be one of Trump’s current senior advisors, Boris Epshteyn. Born in Moscow, Epshteyn joined the 2016 Trump campaign as a communications aide through his friendship with Eric Trump, whom he went to Georgetown University with and where Epshteyn received his Juris Doctor.
Post-election involvement: The detail that points to Epshteyn as the likely sixth co-conspirator is an email to Giuliani that begins, “Dear Mayor, as discussed, below are the attorneys I would recommend for the memo on choosing electors,” and then continues on to name attorneys in the seven states the Trump team was targeting. Epshteyn has previously admitted that he was involved in the process of selecting and propping up the “alternate” — “not fraudulent” — slate of pro-Trump electors in those states. He was questioned by special counsel Jack Smith’s office in April regarding his interactions with Rudy Giuliani, Kenneth Chesebro and John Eastman.
Bar Status: Pending ethics complaint in New York.
Trump could not overturn the election alone. He relied heavily upon “his gaggle of crackpot lawyers,” as former Vice President Mike Pence (R) labeled them. No matter who the co-conspirators turn out to be, they were critical players in the plot to overturn the 2020 election results, leveraging their knowledge of law to peddle election lies, file baseless lawsuits and undermine American democracy.