From left: Sidney Powell, Rudy Giuliani and Jeffrey Clark. Image Credit: AFP file

Washington: In criminally charging former president Donald Trump for his efforts to reverse his 2020 election loss, federal prosecutors allege that Trump enlisted six co-conspirators to “assist him in his criminal efforts to overturn the legitimate results of the 2020 presidential election and retain power.”

The co-conspirators were not charged on Tuesday and are not named in the indictment, but five of them can be identified using the detailed descriptions provided by prosecutors. Here’s what we know about them:

1. Rudy Giuliani

The indictment describes “co-conspirator 1” as an attorney “who was willing to spread knowingly false claims and pursue strategies” that Trump’s 2020 reelection campaign would not pursue. Giuliani served as Trump’s personal attorney and was central to efforts by the Trump team to overturn Joe Biden’s 2020 election victory.

A former federal prosecutor and celebrated New York mayor who was regarded as a national hero in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Giuliani spearheaded bogus legal challenges in key battleground states, including Michigan and Georgia, promoting unsupported claims of vast election fraud. He continued to do so even as many state and federal officials - including William P. Barr, Trump’s own attorney general - disputed those claims.

Among other things, the indictment says that Trump turned to this co-conspirator to echo false claims of election fraud when his own advisers told him that he had lost the vote count and that both knew they were making false claims as they sought to “impair, obstruct and defeat” the 2020 election results, including by putting pressure on Republican lawmakers in key battleground states.

The indictment alleges this co-conspirator privately acknowledged he had no proof for the claims he was making. “We don’t have the evidence, but we have lots of theories,” he allegedly told one Arizona lawmaker who demanded proof of illegal votes in that state, according to the indictment.

These claims prompted concern from Trump campaign staffers, according to the indictment. When the co-conspirator claimed Pennsylvania had counted more absentee ballots than it had sent out, a campaign staffer sent an internal email saying the claim was “just wrong” and “there’s no way to defend it,” according to the indictment.

Ted Goodman, political adviser and spokesman for Giuliani, said in a statement that the indictment criminalizes the act of “daring to ask questions about the 2020 election results.”

“Every fact Mayor Rudy Giuliani possesses about this case establishes the good faith basis President Donald Trump had for the actions he took during the two-month period charged in the indictment,” Goodman said.

John Eastman (left) with Giuliani Image Credit: AP file

2. John Eastman

“Co-conspirator 2” was 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,” according to the indictment.

Eastman, a conservative attorney who once clerked for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, crafted a legal strategy that involved creating slates of pro-Trump electors in states that Joe Biden won. He also falsely asserted, without evidence, that Trump lost Georgia in part because 66,000 underage people and 2,500 convicted felons had voted in the state that year.

Some of those allegations surfaced in a lawsuit Trump filed to overturn the Georgia results. The indictment says this co-conspirator acknowledged in an email that he and Trump had “been made aware that some of the allegations (and evidence proffered by experts) has been inaccurate.” But the claims remained in the lawsuit. The indictment also details phone calls the co-conspirator made to state officials and Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel, in which he “falsely represented” that the alternate electors’ votes would only be used if ongoing litigation changed a state’s results. Even as he made those claims, this co-conspirator wrote a memo suggesting Vice President Pence could throw out votes in states with disputed electoral slates and gavel “Trump as re-elected,” according to the indictment.

Charles Burnham, Eastman’s lawyer, said in a statement Tuesday night that the indictment “relies on a misleading presentation of the record to contrive criminal charges against Presidential candidate Trump and to cast ominous aspersions on his close advisors.” Burnham said Eastman is not involved with plea bargaining.

“[I]f he were invited to plea bargain with either state or federal prosecutors, he would decline. The fact is, if Dr. Eastman is indicted, he will go to trial. If convicted, he will appeal,” Burnham said. “The Eastman legal team is confident of its legal position in this matter.”

3. Sidney Powell

The indictment describes “co-conspirator 3” as an attorney whose baseless accusations Trump “embraced and publicly amplified,” even though he privately acknowledged to others that the unfounded claims of election fraud sounded “crazy.”

A former federal prosecutor, Powell became a defense attorney and conservative commentator critical of the Justice Department after representing a banker in the Enron scandal. She represented former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn when he withdrew a guilty plea after admitting he lied to the FBI.

Powell came to the Republican National Committee after the 2020 election with the baseless claim that voting machines had been hacked to rig the election for Biden. After she aired those falsehoods at a poorly received news conference, the Trump campaign distanced itself from her. But she kept filing lawsuits claiming election fraud and airing those allegations on Fox News. In a White House meeting in December 2020, Trump considered naming Powell as a special counsel to investigate the election, an action mentioned in Tuesday’s indictment though Powell was not formally named in the document. After the Jan. 6, 2021, attack, Powell continued to pursue voting machine data and raise money off election falsehoods. She has since been sanctioned for misconduct and repeatedly sued for defamation.

Powell told the House Jan. 6 committee that she did not read or review all the declarations she presented as alleged evidence of election fraud and argued through an attorney that “no reasonable person” would take her claims as fact. She has said in depositions that she still believes her fraud claims will one day be proved true. An attorney for Powell declined to comment.

4. Jeffrey Clark

“Co-conspirator 4” is described in the indictment as a Justice Department official who focused on civil matters and worked with Trump to “use the Justice Department to open sham election crime investigations and influence state legislatures with knowingly false claims of election fraud.”

Clark was a mid-level Justice Department official friendly to Trump’s views on the election - so much so that Trump considered installing him as acting attorney general. Several former senior Justice Department officials testified about a bizarre effort by Clark to volunteer himself and the Justice Department as advocates for Trump’s bogus claims of massive voter fraud during the election. Clark proposed sending a letter to officials in key states that said the Justice Department had “identified significant concerns” about the vote and that the states should consider sending “a separate slate of electors supporting Donald J. Trump” for Congress to approve, according to hearing testimony from the House Jan. 6 Committee.

Clark’s actions led to a dramatic confrontation at the White House on Jan. 3, 2021 - detailed in Tuesday’s indictment - when senior Justice Department officials told Trump they would resign - and many other senior officials would also quit - if the president appointed Clark in place of acting attorney general Jeffrey Rosen, who was refusing to legitimize the fraud claims. Clark has denied that he devised a plan to replace his boss, the attorney general, and said all of his communications after the election were lawful.

The indictment details how other Justice Department and White House attorneys had rejected Trump’s claims of election fraud, and the deputy White House Counsel warned this co-conspirator that if Trump refused to leave office there would be “riots in every major city in the United States.” According to the indictment, the co-conspirator responded, “That’s why there’s an Insurrection Act.”

Clark did not respond to a request for comment.

5. Kenneth Chesebro

The indictment states that “co-conspirator 5” was an attorney who “assisted in devising and attempting to implement a plan to submit fraudulent slates of presidential electors to obstruct the certification proceeding.”

An appellate attorney who had studied under and worked with Harvard Law professor Lawrence Tribe, Chesebro was the first to suggest that slates of pro-Trump electors could organize in states that he lost and be recognized by Congress on Jan. 6. He first shared the strategy with a friend representing the Trump campaign in Wisconsin before connecting with Eastman, Giuliani and Trump adviser Boris Epshteyn to coordinate across six more swing states.

The indictment says this co-conspirator subsequently spoke to an Arizona attorney identified by the Trump campaign as someone who could assist with the alternate elector plan in that state. “His idea is basically that all of us (GA, WI, AZ, PA, etc) have our electors send in their votes (even though the votes aren’t legal under federal law - because they’re not signed by the Governor); so that members of Congress can fight about whether they should be counted on January 6,” the unidentified attorney wrote in email after the call, according to the indictment. “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 has argued that his communications with the Trump campaign were protected by attorney-client privilege, although he was never paid for his work. He did not respond to a request for comment.

6. A political consultant

“Co-conspirator 6” is described in the indictment as a “political consultant who helped implement a plan to submit fraudulent slates of presidential electors to obstruct the certification proceeding.” Specifically, the indictment alleges that this person sent co-conspirator 1 - Giuliani - an email identifying lawyers in the six swing states who could assist in the phony elector effort. It claims the person participated in a conference call about the effort in Pennsylvania and circulated language for that state’s certificate. On the night of Jan. 6, this co-conspirator looked for senators’ phone numbers for Giuliani to call in an attempt to further delay certifying the electoral votes, according to the indictment. The identity of the sixth conspirator remains unclear.