But as you reflect on the case against Eastman, remember this: Eastman was always Trump’s agent. Trump directly instructed his Vice President, Mike Pence, to heed Eastman’s advice and put his plan into action.
Thursday’s hearing developed two major new storylines about Eastman.
First, it showed that Eastman may have fully realized that his scheme – which involved Pence delaying the congressional voter count, giving states time to certify fictitious voters for Trump, based on legal theory fictitious – could lead to violence. And Eastman apparently ignored that possibility.
This came from White House attorney Eric Herschmann, who testified that he directly warned Eastman that carrying out his scheme “would cause riots in the streets.”
“And he said words to the effect of, ‘There has been violence in the history of our country in order to protect democracy or to protect the republic,'” Herschmann continued.
The riots, you see, would be a small price to pay in the service of bringing about the coup.
Similarly, Greg Jacob, Pence’s chief counsel, testified that he told Eastman that if Pence followed his advice, the resulting conflict “may well then have to be decided on the street.” If Eastman was troubled by this, it did not slow his plot.
Of course, we had street violence. But it was the other way around: Trump incited violence with the apparent aim of pressuring Pence to complete the plan Eastman had laid out.
Indeed, as the hearing also demonstrated, Eastman made a last-ditch effort to get Pence to delay the voter count. after the mob had already ransacked the Capitol.
The second big reveal was that in the days following Jan. 6, Eastman asked Trump for forgiveness. It’s hard to say what that means: Eastman had none, and he could simply say that he thought he would be pursued, like a martyr, by the new regime. But this seems to reveal an awareness of legal vulnerability.
It is important to remember that Eastman was not a dishonest trader. It was operating under the direction of Trump. Pretty much everything Trump has done — pressuring election officials to find fake votes, pressuring the Justice Department to fabricate evidence of voter fraud, pressuring state legislatures to certify fake voters – was in the service of the ultimate scheme described by Eastman.
On January 4, Trump brought Eastman and Pence together in the Oval Office and reportedly ordered Pence to follow Eastman’s plan: “You really have to listen to John. He is a respected constitutional expert. Listen to him.
Then, on Jan. 6, Pence’s aides blasted Eastman, saying he was personally responsible for the violence, having pushed Trump’s scheme to its limit. One described Eastman’s advice as “a snake in the ear of the President of the United States.” It was absolutely correct.
Trump and Eastman were co-conspirators. Recall that when a federal judge recently asserted that laws were broken in relation to Jan. 6, he asserted that both Trump and Eastman may have committed crimes.
In those court documents, the judge wrote that they may have committed “a conspiracy to defraud the United States.” He suggested they cut a deal to obstruct a lawful function of government – the counting of electoral votes by Congress – and that the two “probably knew” the plan was an illegal violation of the Voter Count Act of 1887 Corrupt pressure on Pence may have been the required “act” in furthering this plot.
Of course, the Justice Department might not view Eastman’s conduct that way. And Matthew A. Seligman, a legal scholar and CEA expert, says Eastman could argue that he was simply informing his client – Trump – that he had the option of trying to get Pence to delay the voter count, in complete safety. sincerity. belief that the CEA might be unconstitutional and that Pence might not have to follow it.
‘Eastman’s defense will be to hide his face in his role as a lawyer – how could it be criminal to simply give legal advice to his client? Seligman told us.
But such a defense could fail, because that legal opinion could have been knowingly false and offered as part of a conspiracy to thwart the voter count — and shatter our constitutional order.
“As the committee hearing demonstrated, this knowingly provided a false legal pretext to violate the Constitution as the president frantically attempted to stay in power after losing the election,” Seligman said. “This is the most deeply corrupt intention possible in our constitutional system.”