Who is the author of ‘Coup Memo’ John Eastman and what role did he play in pushing Trump’s plan to derail democracy?

John Eastman (left) and Rudy Giuliani (right) (REUTERS)

When John Eastman took the stage at the “Stop the Steal Rally” on the morning of January 6, 2021, dressed in a camel coat, wearing a fedora and standing next to Rudy Giuliani, many in the crowd may have they didn’t know who he was. he was.

Soon enough, however, they heard what Eastman thought about the recently fought 2020 presidential election, and how Donald Trump’s supporters, and those very close to him, could turn things around.

The election, he falsely said, had suffered from “fraud” and officials had “ignored or violated state law.”

“We know that the dead voted,” he continued.

Eastman, then a law professor at tiny Chapman University in Orange County, California, had an easy solution to suggest to the crowd. In essence, he wanted Vice President Mike Pence, about to oversee a Joint Session of Congress to certify Joe Biden’s electoral college votes, to hit the pause button.

“And all we demand of Vice President Pence is that this afternoon at 1 pm, he allows state legislators to look into this so that we get to the bottom of it and the American people know if we are in control of the direction of our government. , or not,” he said.

Soon, Trump himself was onstage, about to tell supporters to “fight like hell,” comments that would herald his march on Capitol Hill, some of them chanting “Hang Mike Pence,” and hundreds stormed the building. .

“John is one of the brightest lawyers in the country,” Trump said.

“And he looked at this and said what an absolute shame that this could be happening to our constitution.”

Eastman’s appearance at the rally may mark the most obvious visual evidence of how a little-known figure on the fringes of the conservative moment had made his way into the corridors of power in the dark, breathless days of the Trump administration, and into the mind of a defiant, desperate and dishonest president.

This week, the US House Select Committee on the January 6 attack has heard a lot about Eastman and his views, and how he and Trump tried to persuade Pence on January 5, in a meeting at the Oval Office, of which he had constitutional power. to block the rise of Biden.

His theory, as he outlined in a series of memos, later described by some critics as the “Hit Memos” and based on his alternate reading of the 12th Amendment to the Constitution, suggested that the vice president was the final arbiter in cases where there was disagreement over the results, and could oversee the appointment of alternative pro-Trump electors from states where Biden had won. (These documents were later described by some critics as a “hit memo”.)

Working from a room at the Willard Hotel in Washington DC, Eastman and others convinced Trump and some of those close to him that, even at this late stage, he could retain the presidency.

The courts had already rejected dozens of legal challenges, made by people like his legal advisers Giuliani or Sidney Powell.

And one crucial person also rejected Eastman’s theory about the scope of the vice president’s powers: Pence himself.

“It is my considered judgment that my oath to support and defend the Constitution prevents me from claiming unilateral authority to determine which electoral votes should be counted and which should not,” Pence said in a letter to Congress on Jan. 6.

Someone more outspoken on this issue was White House counsel Eric Herschmann. This week, the committee heard that Herschmann had spoken with Eastman on Jan. 7, when he called the White House to inquire about the possibility of another legal challenge.

“I don’t remember why he called me,” Herschmann said. “She started asking me something about how to deal with Georgia and preserve something potentially attractive.”

He added: “I told him, ‘Are you crazy?’ Correct. I said, “I just want to hear two words coming out of your mouth from now on: orderly transition.”

John Eastman in March 2017 (Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved).

John Eastman in March 2017 (Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved).

Eastman has not been charged with any crime nor has he faced any charges.

However, it may be that Eastman himself knew that his theories were beyond the scope of normal precedent, but also outside the usual understanding of the law.

“Did John Eastman ever admit to the president that his proposal would violate the Voter Count Act?” investigators asked Greg Jacob, Pence’s former legal attorney, in video testimony released Thursday.

Jacob replied, “I think he did it in the room.”

Jacob also revealed that he had emailed Eastman on January 6, saying that “thanks to your bulls**t, we are now under siege.”

Eastman responded by saying, “The siege is because you and your boss [the VP] he didn’t do what was necessary,” Jacob said.

On Thursday, the committee heard that Eastman had asked Trump for a presidential pardon, though the then-president did not grant one.

Democratic Congressman Pete Aguilar said Trump’s then-lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, “requested that he be placed on a list of potential recipients of a presidential pardon.”

Aguilar then read Eastman’s email, in which he said, “I have decided I should be on the pardon list, if that is still in process.”

The committee also played a video statement of Eastman being questioned by investigators on January 6, repeatedly invoking the Fifth Amendment, so as not to incriminate himself. Such was the frequency with which he did C that Eastman would often simply say “fifth” when asked a question.

Also this week, it was revealed that the committee possessed emails between Eastman and Ginni Thomas, a conservative activist and wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Eastman was once secretary to Thomas, and his wife was in contact with several people in and around the White House at the time of the 2020 election, offering support for Trump’s efforts to stay in power.

This week, it was reported separately that Eastman claimed in an email after Election Day 2020 to have insight into a “heated fight” between Supreme Court justices over whether to hear arguments about the President’s efforts to overturn his defeat at the polls.

The New York Times He said two people familiar with the emails told the outlet that Eastman, in an email to pro-Trump attorney Kenneth Chesebro, described the discussions as “heated” as the White House pondered another legal challenge.

“So the odds are not based on legal merits but on an assessment of the judges’ spine, and I understand there is a heated fight going on,” Eastman wrote.

Eastman, 62, was born in Lincoln, Nebraska, and has a bachelor’s degree in politics and economics from the University of Dallas, a law degree from the University of Chicago Law School. It is understood that he was a latecomer to Trump’s world in the effort to retain power.

That year he had published an opinion piece he wrote questioning whether Vice President Kamala Harris, the daughter of two immigrants in the United States, met the presidential requirements.

The weekend after the November 3, 2020 election, Eastman was invited by people in Trump’s circle to write a legal brief challenging the results of the Pennsylvania election, one of countless failed efforts.

Eastman is no longer a law professor.

Rather, after the chaos of Jan. 6, when hundreds of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol, he established the conservative Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence, a public-interest law firm.

In the wake of the riots there were calls for him to be expelled from the university where he taught and he withdrew immediately.

University President Daniele Struppa said in a statement to the school community: “Dr. Eastman’s departure closes this challenging chapter for Chapman and provides the most immediate and safe path forward for both the Chapman community and Dr. Eastman”.

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