John Eastman blamed Pence for violence in January 6 riot


WASHINGTON – As a crowd attacked the Capitol, chanting ‘Hang Mike Pence’, a lawyer who plotted with President Donald J. Trump and his allies to try to overthrow the 2020 election sent a hostile message to the country’s top lawyer. vice president, accusing Mr. Pence of violence.

The email, reported by the Washington Post and confirmed by someone familiar with its contents, shows how much Mr. Trump and his advisers sought to pressure the vice president, who presided over the certification of the election, to challenge the will of the voters and keep Mr. Trump. in the office.

“The ‘siege’ is because YOU and your boss did not do what was necessary to allow this to be broadcast publicly so the American people could see for themselves what happened.” , wrote lawyer John Eastman to Greg Jacob. , Chief Counsel for Mr. Pence.

Mr Pence and Mr Jacob were in a secure room on the Capitol when Mr Eastman sent the message, The Post said. Outside, rioters stormed the building where Congress met to certify the election of Joseph R. Biden Jr., erecting a gallows, searching for President Nancy Pelosi and forcing lawmakers to evacuate in a scene from violence and chaos. Police recovered guns, knives, Tasers, Molotov cocktails, explosive devices and zippers in the area.

Mr. Eastman rose within Mr. Trump’s legal circle in 2020 from a little-known conservative scholar to one of the most influential voices in the president’s ears, writing a memo outlining the measures he argued that Mr Pence could take to keep Mr Trump in power – Democratic and Republican anti-Trump steps compared to a plan for a coup.

The two-page memo written by Mr. Eastman and distributed to the White House in the days leading up to the revelation of the certification in the “Peril” book by Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Robert Costa. In the memo, Mr. Eastman argued that as Vice President, Mr. Pence was the “ultimate arbiter” of the election, essentially claiming that he had the power to determine who won, and that “we should take all of our measures with this in mind.”

This view has been dismissed by Mr. Pence and his lawyers as illegal and unethical.

Since his note was made public, Eastman has sought to distance himself from its content, arguing that the document had been taken out of context. He told National Review that the strategy was not “viable” and would have been “crazy” to continue.

But the email to Mr. Jacob undermines those comments. M. Jacob wrote in a draft opinion piece that Mr Eastman showed “a shocking lack of awareness” as “a bunch of thugs who had been sold the lie that the vice president had the power to overrule the election result” stormed Capitol.

“Vice President Pence has rejected the false legal theories presented to him, and he has done his duty,” wrote Jacob. “An investigation should be conducted to find out if the president’s outside lawyers have done theirs. “

Through a spokesperson, Mr. Eastman declined to comment.

Liberal activist Lauren Windsor recently taped Mr. Eastman calling Mr. Pence a “man of the establishment” and standing by the content of his note. “These guys are spineless” he said of lawmakers who refused to join his plan to overturn the elections on the basis of false allegations of widespread electoral fraud.

In the Oval Office the day before congressional electoral vote certification, Mr. Trump pressured Mr. Pence to join the plot in a series of meetings, including a meeting that lasted at least an hour. Mr. Eastman was in the office and asserted to Mr. Pence that he had the authority to act.

Just before Mr. Pence headed to Capitol Hill on January 6, Mr. Trump called the vice president’s residence to push one last time.

“You can either make history as a patriot,” Mr. Trump told him, according to two people familiar with the conversation, “or you can make history as a cat.”

Mr Eastman spoke at the rally that preceded the assault on Capitol Hill and made unsubstantiated allegations of widespread electoral fraud. As outrage grew in the days following the riot, he suddenly withdraws from his job as an endowed professor and researcher in constitutional law at Chapman University.

The House committee investigating the attack has asked the White House to turn over documents and communications regarding Mr. Eastman. Investigators also plan to ask him, potentially under subpoena, to sit down for an interview as they examine the circumstances surrounding the biggest attack on the Capitol since the War of 1812. About 140 officers have been injured in the violence, which has left several dead.

Maggie Haberman and Michael S. Schmidt contributed reports.

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