A Trump official tried to get Mike Pence to overturn the 2020 election by texting a misleading memo about Thomas Jefferson: book

Former Vice President Mike Pence
Former Vice President Mike Pence on Oct. 28, 2021. AP Photo/Patrick Semansky
  • A Trump official tried to get then-Vice President Mike Pence to overturn the 2020 election results.
  • The official, Johnny McEntee, texted Pence’s chief of staff a memo with misleading statements about Thomas Jefferson.
  • Pence presided over the certification of President Joe Biden’s win on January 6.

Days before then-Vice President Mike Pence was set to preside over the 2020 election certification process on January 6, an official texted his team an “absurd” memo about Thomas Jefferson in an attempt to persuade him to overturn the results, according to a new book.

Jefferson, as the vice president in 1801, oversaw the certification of his own election win but did not throw out any state’s electoral votes – as President Donald Trump had demanded in 2020.

ABC News chief Washington correspondent Jonathan Karl chronicles the memo in his forthcoming book, “Betrayal: The Final Act of the Trump Show,” expected on November 16. The Atlantic published an excerpt of the book on Tuesday.

The official who texted the memo, Johnny McEntee, was then-President Donald Trump’s director of the White House Presidential Personnel Office, which is responsible for hiring everyone in the administration, from Cabinet members to lower-level employees.

McEntee, a loyal supporter of Trump, pushed the false claim that widespread voter fraud rigged the 2020 election against the president. Federal, state and local officials have widely disproven the conspiracy theory.

After dozens of failed lawsuits, Trump sought to overturn the election by pressuring Pence to reject the results when Congress meets to certify them on January 6. Pence rejected the call. He had no constitutional authority to do such a thing and his role in the certification process was largely ceremonial.

Then-White House Counsel Pat Cipollone informed Trump of the facts, but the president wasn’t “happy” with them, according to Karl.

So McEntee then devised a memo, with the help of “rogue legal advisors,” which he texted Pence’s chief of staff on January 1, per the book.

The bullet-list memo was filled with misleading statements about Thomas Jefferson in 1801, when he was the sitting vice president and oversaw the electoral certification of his own victory over incumbent President John Adams. McEntee wrote that Jefferson had “ignored the problems” of technical issues with ballots in Georgia and “announced himself the winner.”

“This proves that the VP has, at a minimum, a substantial discretion to address issues with the electoral process,” McEntee wrote in the memo, according to Karl.

However, as Karl noted in his book, Jefferson accepted the votes from Georgia, a state he clearly won, and did not discard votes from any state, which was what Trump had pushed Pence to do.

Pence ultimately certified President Joe Biden’s 2020 win, hours after crowds of Trump supporters violently stormed the US Capitol on January 6.

The former vice president has since defended the move, saying in June that he “will always be proud that we did our part on that tragic day to reconvene the Congress and fulfilled our duty under the Constitution and the laws of the United States.”

A spokesperson for Pence did not immediately return Insider’s request for comment.