Trump Attorney Eastman Takes a Verbal Beating During Jan. 6 Hearing

John Eastman, the controversial lawyer who unsuccessfully lobbied Mike Pence to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential race, took center stage at the panel’s third hearing on Jan. 6 that focused on the lobbying campaign against the former vice president. .

Eastman emerged in the weeks between the 2020 election and the Jan. 6 riots as one of the most influential voices in Trump’s circle, pushing a dubious claim that the vice president had the authority to turn away voters and determine the winner. of the elections independently. He appeared at the January 6 Ellipse rally that preceded the uprising across the National Mall.

But Thursday’s proceedings suggested there were legions of skeptics among Team Trump and Team Pence when Eastman pressed the issue.

Jason Miller, a former Trump campaign senior adviser, told the committee in testimony aired Thursday that campaign attorneys Justin Clark and Matt Morgan thought Eastman “was crazy” and told “anyone who would listen.”

Mark Meadows, who was President Trump’s chief of staff at the time, acknowledged that Eastman’s plan was illegal, according to Marc Short, who was Pence’s chief of staff.

Tensions were high between the Trump team and the Pence team at the time, but Thursday’s testimony made it clear that members of both groups thought Eastman’s arguments were baseless and could lead to violence.

The January 6 panel argued that this is exactly what happened. It showed video Thursday of Trump pressuring Pence to take action at a rally near the White House that preceded the attack on Capitol Hill. Another video was shown of participants marching on Capitol Hill chanting “Hang Mike Pence” and discussing how to drag politicians into the streets.

Eric Herschmann, who worked in the White House counsel’s office in the Trump White House after defending Trump in his first impeachment trial, seemed particularly exasperated with Eastman’s antics.

“Are you out of your ‘ephemeral mind?” Herschmann remembered telling Eastman.

Justice J. Michael Luttig, a conservative legal stalwart whose views shaped Pence’s argument against intervening in election certification, called Eastman’s theory “constitutional mischief.”

“I would have put my body across the street before I allowed the vice president to nullify the 2020 election based on that historic precedent,” Luttig told the committee as one of his in-person witnesses for Thursday’s hearing.

Luttig was referring to a claim by Eastman that the 12th Amendment could be interpreted to allow the vice president to determine the winner of an election and turn away state electors. Pence and his team ultimately determined that the vice president had no such authority.

Greg Jacob, who served as Pence’s general counsel and also appeared in person Thursday, told the committee that Eastman explicitly called on Jan. 5, 2021, for Pence to turn away states’ constituents even though he seemed to recognize a day Rather than doing so, it would violate the Electoral Computation Law.

Witness testimony also made it clear that Eastman was undeterred despite multiple warnings that his idea could lead to violence.

“You’re going to riot in the streets,” Herschmann testified to Eastman, to which he said the attorney responded that there had been “violence in the history of our country to protect democracy or to protect the Republic.”

“I told him if the courts didn’t get involved, there was no one else to figure it out,” Jacob testified of his conversations with Eastman. “That could well be resolved through violence in the streets.”

Luttig, who was not part of the Trump administration on Jan. 6, appeared to agree with the stakes, telling the committee that he would have plunged the country into a “revolution” if Pence had gone along with Eastman’s plan.

Eastman joined former New York City Mayor and Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani as a former Trump ally highlighted by the committee as a potentially dangerous influence on Trump before Jan. 6.

The committee has argued in its first three public hearings that Trump and his team laid the groundwork for the violence on Jan. 6 by pushing refuted claims about voter fraud and unconstitutional theories about nullifying the election.

Committee member Pete Aguilar (D-Texas) said Thursday that Eastman advocated the Fifth Amendment to avoid incriminating himself dozens of times during a closed-door panel appearance.

Herschmann told the committee that he was frank with Eastman after the events of January 6, saying he only wanted to hear “two words” from Eastman going forward: “Orderly transition.”

The committee learned that Eastman, perhaps sensing the situation he was in as the violence unfolded on January 6, had contacted Giuliani about legal protection.

“I have decided that I should be on the pardon list, if that is still in process,” he wrote in an email shared Thursday by the committee.

Trump did not pardon Eastman before leaving office.

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