“Coup memo” author John Eastman knew that he and former President Trump’s scheme to get Mike Pence to block the certification of the 2020 election was illegal, and said so in front of Trump, according to testimony played during the Jan. 6 committee’s hearing on Thursday.
“Did John Eastman ever admit in front of the president that his proposal would violate the Electoral Count Act?” investigators asked Greg Jacob, Pence’s former legal counsel.
“I believe he did on the fourth,” Jacob replied.
The third January 6 hearing gets underway with a clip of Greg Jacob, former counsel to Pence, telling the committee that John Eastman admitted in front of Trump on January 4, 2021, that the pressure campaign against Pence violated the law pic.twitter.com/GE94d2KeUT
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) June 16, 2022
“That was Jan. 4, two days before the attack on Congress,” Cheney said of when exactly Trump knew it would be illegal for Pence to block the certification of the Electoral College.
Eastman was so worried about the illegality of the scheme that he, like multiple members of Congress, sought a preemptive pardon from Trump. “I’ve decided that I should be on the pardon list, if that is still in the works,” he wrote in an email to Rudy Giuliani.
Dr. John Eastman email after January 6th: "I've decided that I should be on the pardon list, if that is still in the works." pic.twitter.com/8RjzOCNGlN
— CSPAN (@cspan) June 16, 2022
The committee in its third hearing is examining Trump’s campaign to pressure Pence into illegally blocking the certification of the Electoral College. Pence refused, reportedly with the help of legal advice from J. Michael Luttig, a retired U.S. circuit court judge who is testifying on Thursday. Luttig, who is widely respected in conservative legal circles, was adamant on Thursday that the push to get Pence to block the vote count was illegal. “There was no basis in the Constitution or laws in the United States at all for the theory espoused by Mr. Eastman,” he said. “At all. None.”
“Foundational rule of law was supremely violated on Jan. 6, 2021,” Luttig added.
Jacob is also testifying before the committee. Jacob was reportedly in the room in the days before the attack when Trump and his allies tried to convince Pence to help overturn the election results. Jacob was also in touch with Eastman, the former Trump lawyer who authored the memo instructing Pence to halt the certification of the Electoral College. Jacob, too, did not believe Pence had the authority to block the count. “There is just no way that the framers of the Constitution, who divided and authority, who separated it out, who had broken away from George III and declared him to be a tyrant, there is no way they would have put in the hands of one person the authority to determine who was going to be president of the United States.”
“The history was absolutely decisive,” Jacob continued. “Part of my discussion with Mr. Eastman was, ‘If you were right, don’t you think Al Gore might have liked to have known in 2000 that he had the authority to just declared himself president of the United States? Did you think that the Democrat lawyers just didn’t think of this very obvious quirk that he could use to do that?'”
Jacob went into further detail about his communications with Eastman ahead of Jan. 6, making clear that Eastman was well aware that the plan wasn’t legally sound. He said Eastman even acknowledged that if the Supreme Court were to rule on the scheme, it would be struck down 9-0. Rudy Giuliani seems to have felt similarly. Former White House lawyer Eric Herschmann told the committee that on the morning of Jan. 6, Giuliani told him he was “probably right” that the plan was illegal. Hours later, Giuliani stood beside Eastman at the rally that preceded the Capitol attack and told Trump’s supporters that the scheme was legally ironclad.
Violence ensued, which as the committee revealed on Thursday, didn’t seem to be of much concern to Eastman. “I said, ‘You’re going to cause riots in the streets,’” Herschmann recounted of a conservation with Eastman. “He said words to the effect of, ‘There’s been violence in the history of our country to protect the democracy or to protect the republic.'”
Eric Herschmann on his discussion with John Eastman about overturning the election:
“I said, ‘You’re going to cause riots in the streets.’ And he said words to the effect of, ‘There’s been violence in the history of our country to protect the democracy or protect the republic?’” pic.twitter.com/VzYy45s9yx
— The Republican Accountability Project (@AccountableGOP) June 16, 2022
It goes without saying that Trump was not happy Pence didn’t go along with the scheme. The committee revealed during its hearing last week that Trump told staff Pence “deserved” to be hanged as his supporters were attacking the Capitol.