Bernie Kerik had a plan to keep former President Trump in office after losing the 2020 election — and he knew how much it would cost. Roughly.
Per an email surfaced in a defamation lawsuit brought against Rudy Giuliani, Kerik wrote to then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows in a Dec. 28, 2020 missive that he would need “between $5 to $8M” to put a plan into action that would pressure state legislators into throwing their electors behind Trump.
It was one feature of a broader effort to co-opt state legislatures into a scheme that would have seen them try to send slates of fake electors to Washington on January 6. A “strategic communications plan” attached to Kerik’s email indicated he would need millions of dollars to work alongside Giuliani to “pressure” state lawmakers into cooperating.
Kerik is a longtime Giuliani confidante who served as commissioner of the New York City Police Department during Giuliani’s mayoralty. Thanks to a recommendation from Giuliani, he went on to serve as the interim interior minister of Iraq during the country’s occupation by U.S. forces. In 2010, Kerik went to prison after pleading guilty to a slew of charges including tax fraud and making false statements to the White House in conjunction with his vetting for federal posts. Kerik was pardoned by Trump in 2020.
The message with Kerik’s multimillion-dollar ask and strategic plan emerged in a defamation lawsuit that Giuliani faces brought by two Georgia poll workers, Shaye Moss and Ruby Freeman. Giuliani spent months in late 2020 and early 2021 claiming that the mother-daughter pair were caught on video unloading ballots from a suitcase at an arena in Fulton County, Georgia, while saying falsely that one of the two had a criminal record. The allegations against Moss and Freeman, and Trump’s claims that Georgia was stolen from him, were shown repeatedly to be baseless.
This new email is further indication of how the efforts to overturn the election were intertwined with requests for cash — and the eye popping sums that were involved. Kerik pestered Meadows for money on Giuliani’s behalf more than once in late 2020 as the pair worked to help Trump build his myth of a stolen election and attempt to reverse his loss. In a Dec. 1, 2020 text to Meadows that TPM obtained and published last year, Kerik told Meadows that he was “airborne on the way to Michigan from Arizona.”
“We’re going to need a hotel for the team and two vehicles to pick us up. Christina Bobb, Who is our coordinator back in DC does not have a credit card or authorization for these logistics,” he wrote. “I reached out to Mike Glassner who Apparently is no longer on payroll. Can you I have some money coordinate with Christina to handle? Thank you sir”
Weeks later, on Dec. 28, Kerik popped up again — this time via the message that surfaced in the defamation lawsuit this year, which was sent to Meadows’ White House email address.
In that missive, Kerik told Meadows that Giuliani had sent a message the night before, before telling the Trump chief of staff that “we need to pull the trigger today, to have the impact that’s needed in the states that we’re targeting.” He also made clear his needs were growing beyond hotels and cars and that launching the effort would cost money.
“We’re estimating it’s going to run between $5 to $8M,” he wrote, adding, “With all due respect, we don’t want the campaign comms people involved… We need this to get done, done right, and done now.”
Kerik added that only “specific pressure in targeted areas” would work.
“There is only one thing that’s going to move the needle and force the legislators to do what their constitutionally obligated to do, and that is apply pressure,” he wrote.
Kerik, at the time, also used his personal Twitter account to post fragments of his strategy memo to the public.
In a deposition in the Freeman lawsuit, Giuliani alternatingly confirmed and denied his support for the plan to pitch the White House. He told attorneys that “I let them do it” and that he was “opposed to it.”
It’s not clear how receptive Meadows was to Kerik’s requests for funding. Weeks later, the Washington Post reported that Trump had told aides not to pay Giuliani for legal fees, and not to reimburse him for expenses he incurred while traveling the country to pressure state legislators into reversing Trump’s loss. Giuliani reportedly wanted $20,000 per day for the work.
However, even thought Giuliani and Kerik might not have secured all of the funds they hoped to receive for their services, there are indications Meadows was working with them after receiving Kerik’s email. According to texts from Mark Meadows’ phone obtained by TPM, then-Sen. David Perdue (R-GA) texted Meadows the day after Kerik sent his strategy to Meadows about a “call” he was trying to set up between “state legislature leaders and Rudy.”
“I just want to make sure I’m doing what you and the president want. We also have a joint statement ready as well. Thanks,” Perdue added. It’s not clear if that was part of Kerik’s plan.
An attorney for Meadows didn’t return TPM’s request for comment.
Kerik initially agreed to an interview about the matter, but then declined to comment. Timothy Parlatore, an attorney for Kerik, told TPM that he doesn’t “really have time to waste on that case.”
Take a look at the email below: