A group affiliated with the Republican Attorneys General Association, best known for encouraging former President Donald Trump’s supporters to attend a Jan. 6 rally that turned into a violent riot at the US Capitol, has held a “war games” meeting ahead of 2020. A presidential election to plan for potential losses.
The meeting, which took place over two days in Atlanta in September 2020, was part of more than 20 meetings held by the Rule of Law Defense Fund leading up to the November election. It was attended by senior aides to Republicans who were the chief law enforcement officers in their states.
The executive director of the Republican Attorneys General Association sent an email on Sept. 24, addressed to “the general,” referring to the program as a “war game” and “a series of conversations about what could happen if we lose the White House.”
“It was a fast, productive series of war games that won’t have to be used in November,” former executive director Adam Piper said in an email the next day, again addressed to “The General.”
For more reporting from The Associated Press, see below:
Despite the pandemic and the lack of vaccines, the group personally organized the conference and paid for travel expenses.
The Defense Fund, an arm of the Republican Attorneys General Association, gained notoriety for its robocalls the day before the Jan. 6 uprising, when pro-Trump protesters stormed the Capitol in an attempt to deny Joe Biden a victory certificate.
Emails from the Republican attorney general’s offices in Kansas and Missouri show the defense fund held weekly calls for senior staff in state offices, a “virtual roundtable” with senior corporate lawyers in July and an in-person summit in September. Eight days after the election, a Zoom “strategy session” and a December 1 call to discuss immigration policy were also held.
Five days after the violence in Washington and the defense fund robocalls, Piper resigned from the Attorney General’s Association. Call did not advocate violence or advocate an attack on the Capitol.
Together, the meetings and robocalls underscore how deeply invested elements of the Republican Party were in trying to keep Trump in office or challenge the incoming Biden administration. Seventeen Republican state attorneys general from Kansas and Missouri also joined the Texas attorney general in a separate lawsuit seeking to overturn the results of the presidential election based on unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud; The Supreme Court ultimately rejected that effort.
The agenda for the Defense Fund’s Atlanta summit consists of three policy sessions and a set of breakout sessions over two days. “All policy conversations are off the record,” the defense fund’s executive director said in an email two days before the event.
While the Defense Fund allowed people to participate virtually, the email said more than 30 people attended in person.
In a written statement to The Associated Press on Thursday, RAGA spokesman Johnny Koremenos said the September 2020 meeting was “strictly focused on administrative law and building an attorney general team for a potential Biden administration or President Trump’s second term — a common practice during an election season.”
Koremenos said the GOP attorney general has filed more than 40 lawsuits against Biden’s policies since taking office in January. It’s a strategy he used under former President Barack Obama and one regularly used by his Democratic counterparts during Trump’s four years in office.
“We are fighting against the most radical and irresponsible agenda America has ever seen,” Chris Newell, a spokesman for Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmidt, said in an email Thursday.
Koremenos did not respond to questions asked in multiple emails about whether a Defense Fund video conference last year addressed potential challenges to the election results.
The Defense Fund, in filing a tax filing with the Internal Revenue Service, says its mission is to share best practices among state attorneys general, provide a forum for them to discuss state and federal policy issues, help them develop policy and “engage” federal officials. in the interest of States”.
In Missouri, communications between the defense fund and state Solicitor General John Sauer, who is under Schmidt’s office, became public this year through a records request by a government transparency group.
Schmidt said in January that he was not aware of the defense fund robocalls, and his spokesman said Thursday that he would not “repeat” them earlier this year. Schmidt is running for the US Senate in 2022.
Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt’s office sent two staffers to the September “War Games” summit—Chief Deputy Attorney General Jeff Chaney and Communications Director Clint Blais. Their pre-event travel authorization form indicated that the Defense Fund would cover their expenses—as it did—and listed the purpose of their travel as “training.”
Chanay said in an email to himself and Blaes that Schmidt had concluded the program “served a legitimate state purpose and interest” and that the office would have otherwise covered their costs — accepting defense fund hospitality makes them legal under Kansas law.
His involvement was first reported this week by the Kansas Reflector, which obtained 15 pages of emails through an open records request. The Associated Press also obtained the emails through an open records request.
Another email showed that Eric Montgomery, Schmidt’s chief of staff, registered for the online sessions.
Schmidt, who was first elected in 2010, is running for governor of Kansas in 2022. He served as a director of the Defense Fund but left its board in August 2020. After the January 6 uprising, he publicly condemned the violence and said: Topeka Capital-Journal That he didn’t already know about the robocall.
Schmidt spokesman John Milburn said in an email that the September event was to discuss possible responses or other actions by a potential Biden administration that Schmidt was concerned could have “devastating consequences for Kansas.”
“There has been no discussion about challenging the election results, which are still six weeks away,” Milburn said.