Friday, July 12, 2024

Lawyer Ken Chesebro had a home on Massachusetts Avenue near Harvard Square. (Photo: City of Cambridge Assessing Department)

Attorney Kenneth J. Chesebro, who has been identified as a “mastermind” in the undermining of the 2020 election for former President Donald Trump, was a longtime Cambridge resident.

Chesebro went to Northeastern University and graduated from Harvard Law School in 1986. He’s worked as an attorney in New York, Massachusetts and California, and his LinkedIn lists him as currently in San Juan, Puerto Rico. He also had a home at 1600 Massachusetts Ave., above the Harvard University Physics Research Library, that was conveyed to his wife in a divorce. For a time, he lived in a Ritz-Carlton Condo in Boston, according to a title search.

Chesebro did not respond to requests for comment emailed, texted and delivered by phone on Thursday.

A group called Lawyers Defending American Democracy submitted an ethics complaint Oct. 12 to the Attorney Grievance Committee of New York’s Supreme Court calling Chesebro the “apparent mastermind behind key aspects of the fake elector ploy.” A similar complaint was filed in July by The 65 Project, which calls itself a “bipartisan effort to protect democracy” named after the 65 lawsuits submitted by Trump-allied lawyers to overturn the election.

A Georgia grand jury subpoenaed Chesebro in August to testify there about attempts to overturn the 2020 election, following a subpoena issued by the U.S. House of Representatives committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on Congress.

Infamous colleagues

Lawyers John C. Eastman and Rudolph W. Giuliani are other lawyers criticized for trying questionable methods to ensure Trump got a second term. Chesebro sent step-by-step instructions to Giuliani on how Vice President Mike Pence could undermine the results of the election, according to emails in a California case against Eastman cited by critics.

Chesebro should face the same probes as Eastman and Giuliani, Lawyers Defending American Democracy said Oct. 12.

“Mr. Eastman and Mr. Giuliani are already subject to ethics investigations and disciplinary proceedings for their roles in the endeavor to overturn the election,” the group’s report said. “It is time for Mr. Chesebro to be subject to scrutiny comparable to his better-known collaborators.”

Chesebro created fake electors to interfere with vote counting, the LDAD says, and he falsely promoted the theory that Pence could confirm the election, trying to undermine Arizona’s electoral votes.

“I think having the president of the Senate use the defensible claim that he is in charge of counting the votes as leverage to obtain that needed scrutiny would be worthwhile even if it couldn’t ultimately prevent the election of Biden and Harris,” Chesebro wrote in an email to Rudy Giuliani on Dec. 13, 2020 – more than a month after Joe Biden was declared the president-elect.

Harvard connections

Nearly 30 years ago, Chesebro handled at least one case with famed fellow Harvard alum Laurence H. Tribe. In 1994, they were co-counsel on a contract dispute called Lightning Lube Inc. v. Witco Corp. that drew a lawsuit from another litigator; the case against Tribe and Chesebro was thrown out, The Harvard Crimson reported at the time.

While Tribe has tweeted this year that Chesebro was “smart enough to know the fake electors weren’t committing ‘treason’” in Arizona, it seemed to be the extent of his good feelings for a former colleague; he has said Chesebro’s recent work included “a blatant and fully knowing attempt to obstruct a statutorily mandated congressional proceeding” that suggested “fascism, not law” and was “horrific.”

Chesebro was among dozens of students on the editorial board at the Harvard Law Review at the same time Elena Kagan, now an associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, was supervising editor.

Harvard Law did not respond to a request for comment.