John Eastman’s efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election extended well beyond authoring the infamous “coup memo” instructing Mike Pence to illegally block the Electoral College certification on Jan. 6.
The Denver Post reported on Tuesday that the former Trump lawyer also pushed Republicans in Pennsylvania to throw out thousands of absentee ballots in an effort to swing the crucial state to the former president. The revelation is part of a trove of emails the Colorado Ethics Institute obtained through a public records request from the University of Colorado, where Eastman was a visiting professor. (Here’s the entire trove of emails, via Politico.)
In one email to Pennsylvania state Rep. Russ Diamond, Eastman argues that legislators could use concerns over the state’s absentee ballot process as a pretext to “discard” thousands of ballots, and then “discount each candidates’ totals by a prorated amount based on the absentee percentage those candidates otherwise received.”
The idea would be to “provide some cover” for the state legislature to circumvent the will of the people and declare Trump the winner. “Having done that math, you’d be left with a significant Trump lead that would bolster the argument for the Legislature adopting a slate of Trump electors,” Eastman wrote.
Here's John Eastman straight-up saying PA should send Trump electors by not actually counting votes, but pro-rating them after excluding a bunch. pic.twitter.com/UVpJJQ9iLy
— Aaron Blake (@AaronBlake) May 11, 2022
In a call with Rolling Stone, Rep. Diamond said that when he reached out to Eastman following Eastman’s testimony in a Georgia election hearing in early December 2020, his concern was “preserving the legitimate authority of the Pennsylvania General Assembly in matters of elections,” and that he ultimately reached the conclusion that the legislature “didn’t have the authority” to appoint a slate of Trump electors.
Diamond wasn’t willing to acknowledge that Biden was the legitimate winner of Pennsylvania’s Electoral College votes, however, saying that he could never do so because he “didn’t count the votes himself.” He argued that the 2020 election was not conducted in accordance with the Constitution, lashing out at “villains” like the state’s Supreme Court, Department of State, and the administration of Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf, whom he ripped for vetoing a Republican bill that would have squeeze election deadlines and created additional barriers for voter registration.
“Our voter rolls are in horrible condition in Pennsylvania,” Diamond said. “We probably would be best off just making everybody re-reregister to vote.”
Diamond may have determined the legislature couldn’t appoint new electors, but he was certainly intrigued by the idea when he emailed Eastman in early December 2020. The memo Eastman would later deliver to Pence was predicated on this idea, that Republican-controlled legislatures in states that Trump lost could appoint alternate slates of electors that could declare Trump the winner. Eastman wanted Pence to delayed the certification of the Electoral College results for some of these contested states. Pence refused to do so, and Eastman’s plan, which was revealed months later, has been widely regarded as illegal.
Eastman’s role in the effort to overturn the election results has landed him in the crosshairs of the Jan. 6 committee. He’s fought the committee at nearly every turn, defying his subpoena and suing to prevent the committee from obtaining material. Rolling Stone reported earlier this week on how Eastman has funded his efforts to stymie the committee by raising nearly $200,000 from Trump supporters, claiming the money will be used for his “legal defense.”
Eastman has not been charged with any crime, but Federal District Judge David O. Carter wrote in a March court ruling that the “the illegality of [Eastman’s memo] was obvious,” and that “it is more likely than not that President Trump and Dr. Eastman dishonestly conspired to obstruct the Joint Session of Congress on January 6, 2021.”
It’s up Attorney General Merrick Garland whether to bring criminal charges. So far, the Justice Department has declined to do so.