WASHINGTON, DC – The latest indictment of former president Donald Trump in Georgia included charges for 18 of his allies, alleging the defendants participated in a “criminal enterprise in Fulton County, Georgia — and elsewhere — to accomplish the illegal goal” of keeping Trump in office. The wide-ranging indictment sparks a broader discussion of the key players central to Trump’s efforts to overturn the election — and the extremist network behind them still at play.

While Trump faces yet another indictment, the well-funded extremist network behind Trump and his now-indicted allies is hard at work threatening democracy and chipping away at Americans’ rights. The January 6th attempted insurrection was a coordinated effort between these extremist groups, Republican megadonors, and MAGA lawmakers. These forces propped up the dangerous conspiracies and harmful lies that resulted in the deadly attack on our Capitol — and they’re still pulling the strings behind the scenes of our politics. These groups must be held accountable for their continued attempts to undermine American democracy.”

Accountable.US senior advisor Kyle Herrig

Meet the key extremist groups behind the newest Trump indictment:

  • Federalist Society: John Eastman, a longtime Federalist Society member, served as chair of the organization’s Federalism & Separation of Powers Practice Group. Eastman’s involvement in efforts to overturn the 2020 election and participation in the rally that preceded the January 6th attempted insurrection led to calls for corporations to halt contributions to the Federalist Society.

    The Federalist Society has close ties to the last five Supreme Court nominees appointed by Republican presidents, and its membership includes numerous individuals who were instrumental in the attempted insurrection, including Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Josh Hawley (R-MO). The organization’s longtime executive vice president and current co-chair is Leonard Leo, conservative kingpin and Republican moneyman who has, over decades, manipulated the judiciary to undermine American democracy. 
  • Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF): After joining the organization at its inception, John Eastman served on the board of the Public Interest Legal Foundation and was widely considered a leader within the group. Eastman worked closely with Cleta Mitchell, PILF board chair at the center of Trump’s attempts to overturn the 2020 election who reportedly first introduced Eastman to Trump.

    PILF remains at the forefront of efforts to disenfranchise voters. Since the Capitol riot, the organization has promoted unfounded evidence that the 2020 election was stolen and led efforts to roll back voting rights. PILF also submitted an amicus brief in the Supreme Court case Moore v. Harper, pushing the Court to adopt a fringe legal theory that would have upended elections and threatened American democracy. 
  • Claremont Institute: John Eastman has been a senior fellow at the Claremont Institute for 30 years and serves as the founder and director of Claremont’s Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence. Thanks to Eastman’s prominence within the group, the Claremont Institute emerged as a driving force in conservative efforts to rewrite voting laws and remake the election system based on conspiracies about the 2020 election. Claremont continued to push election conspiracies well into 2022, even helping state lawmakers draft legislation to make election laws more favorable to Republicans. 
  • Center for Renewing America (CRA): Jeffrey Clark is senior fellow and director of litigation at the Center for Renewing America. The Center was founded by Trump confidant and former Office of Management and Budget Director Russ Vought, and is a project of the Conservative Partnership Institute run by Mark Meadows and Cleta Mitchell.

    The Center has strongly opposed voting rights legislation such as the For the People Act (H.R.1), claiming that measures like automatic voter registration and vote-by-mail would threaten “election integrity.” CRA senior fellow Ken Cuccinelli’s Election Transparency Initiative also opposed H.R.1 and has pushed for state-based election reform laws in states with close 2020 margins.In 2022, the Center filed IRS complaints against Mark Zuckerberg and the nonprofit Center For Tech and Civic Life (CTCL), to which Zuckerberg substantially contributed in the 2020 election cycle to support election administration. Despite clear evidence that the funding did not impact voter turnout in favor of either political party, the grants sparked right-wing conspiracies. Center for Renewing America’s complaint echoed these conspiracies, claiming that Zuckerberg used the CTCL to “throw” the 2020 election in President Joe Biden’s favor.
  • Conservative Partnership Institute (CPI): Mark Meadows joined the Conservative Partnership Institute as a senior partner just three weeks after the January 6th attempted insurrection, during which he served as Trump’s chief of staff. In a public statement, CPI claimed Meadows would help the organization “operate behind the scenes to help create more members like Jim Jordan, Ted Cruz, and Josh Hawley,” who all voted to overturn the 2020 election results. While at CPI, Meadows continued to promote the very same conspiracies about the 2020 election that led to the violent attack on the Capitol. 

    One of CPI’s most influential projects is the Election Integrity Network, which launched soon after Trump lost his re-election bid in 2020. The Network has been a key player in the right-wing’s efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election, block voting rights legislation, and build infrastructure to spread false claims about election fraud.

  • Thomas More Society & The Amistad Project: The Thomas More Society is a conservative legal organization that wages legal battles over “free liberty” and “family values” issues. Its affiliate group, the Amistad Project, has been a central player in challenging the 2020 presidential election results. 

    Jenna Ellis, Trump’s 2020 campaign legal adviser, served as special counsel to the Thomas More Society, and she was listed as a member of the Amistad Project’s “Leadership and Advisory Board” on a now-defunct website. The Washington Post wrote that Ellis’s affiliation with the group “suggest[s] a coordinated effort to flood the nation’s courts with repetitive litigation that allows the president to claim the election results remain contested.” Rudy Giuliani was also reported to have worked closely with the Amistad Project to file lawsuits challenging vote results in key swing states. 

    In the aftermath of the 2020 presidential election, the Amistad Project filed numerous lawsuits alleging the election was stolen. They were also caught trying to deliver a fake slate of pro-Trump electors to the Michigan state legislature, where they were turned away by state police officers. Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel recently charged these false electors over efforts to overturn the 2020 election.

Accountable.US launched its Monitoring Influence database to connect the dots between extremist groups like these working to influence our politics and undermine our democracy. Learn more at MonitoringInfluence.org.

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