Narrow house

If you watched the last House hearing, you know John Eastman is a bad guy in the room.

When I listened to the last hearing on January 6, I knew that John Eastman — as the main architect of various bizarre schemes to steal the 2020 election from Joe Biden — would play a major role. The book “Peril” by Bob Woodward and Bob Costa put Eastman right in the center months ago.

What I couldn’t have guessed was that Eastman would turn out to be one of the main villains in the play, almost eclipsing Donald Trump himself. The hearing was yet another Eastman-inspired embarrassment for the University of Colorado, which hired (and then sort of fired) him as – let’s see if I got it right – first visiting professor of politics. conservative and/or American overthrow Democracy.

Mike Litwin

And it may be even worse for Heidi Ganahl, the gubernatorial candidate in the Republican primary. A big talking point for her campaign was the role she played on the CU board. What she doesn’t like to talk about is whether Eastman and Trump tried to defraud American voters, although she said she would welcome Trump’s endorsement. .

The heat must have been just hot enough – damn this global warming – that Ganahl finally told the Colorado Sun and News4 that she wished Eastman “hadn’t involved CU in the whole conversation about what happened. with January 6 and the President. But I also believe in academic freedom (note to Ward Churchill) and we have to let these things play out.

She also said Eastman had a “stellar” career before CU hired him, a notion that, shall we say, isn’t unanimous.

The heat even reached the point that Ganahl finally felt she had to give an answer on the 2020 election question. She said that although there were issues regarding the election (Editor’s note: there wasn’t), she didn’t “believe there was enough fraud that would have overturned the election.”

This is certainly not Trump’s view. And the theme of Thursday’s hearing — another effective session — was how Mike Pence resisted pressure, by Trump and Eastman and others, to single-handedly, so illegally and unconstitutionally, prevent the Electoral College from appoint Biden president, and by any means possible.

If you remember, the vote took place on January 6, the same day as the violent storming of the Capitol. The same day that started with Trump phoning Pence and calling him a “wimp” and a “pussy” for his, uh, cowardice.

And on the very day the mob’s intent, besides its apparent desire to lynch Pence for refusing to obey Trump, was also to halt the Electoral College vote count. During the hearing, we learned that the mob apparently came within 40 feet of Pence and his family as they were transported by the Secret Service to a safe location.

Forty feet. A few big steps for the horned insurgents, an escape from anarchy or worse.

Voting is, of course, supposed to be a formality. Everyone knew Biden had won the election, including – guess right here – Trump. Guess even Rudy knows the truth when he only drinks Diet Pepsi.

But, in Trump’s view, the Big Lie cannot be allowed to die. As long as the Big Lie lives, so will the chance that he can trample the will of the people and somehow remain president. The Big Lie is among the big issues in Republican primaries across the country. We’ll see how it plays out in Colorado in just over a week.

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How seriously should we take this? I mean, shouldn’t we at least know how CU hired Eastman?

U.S. District Court Judge David Carter, in ruling that Eastman, a law professor at Chapman University before coming to CU, must turn over certain documents to the Jan. 6 committee, the score told us in March. He said Eastman and Trump’s schemes were not only “more likely than not” to have been criminal, but described the schemes as “a coup in search of legal theory”.

How seriously should Biden and his team take this? Well, if I’m Attorney General Merrick Garland, I’m putting everyone in double overtime.

The star witness that day for the committee was Greg Jacob, an attorney for Pence, who along with everyone else on Pence’s team warned Pence to stand up to Trump while debating the merits of Eastman’s plot. , as if there were, with Eastman himself.

Jacob ridiculed schemes that would call on Pence to either reject electoral votes in swing states that Biden won and declare Trump president, or send contested so-called delegates home for their state lawmakers to decide. Then Congress could be summoned for a special session to presumably nominate Trump as president.

It wasn’t just Pence and his advisers who knew that none of these plans could make it to court. So…did…Eastman. I swear to you. Or at least, Greg Jacob literally swore it.

On Jan. 5, Jacob said he told Eastman that if this scheme went through and eventually made it to the Supreme Court, it would be thrown out 9-0. At first, Eastman disputed that number. According to Jacob, Eastman said, “Well, I think you might only lose 7-2”, and after further discussion he acknowledged, “Well, yeah, you’re right, we would lose 9 -nothing.”

Eastman was probably relying on Clarence Thomas, who he was clerking for, and probably Sam Alito before he realized that no one besides Trump would agree to this. Eastman also said there had been heated discussions in the Supreme Court about whether she would even hear such a case. And then we learned that Ginni Thomas, wife of Clarence Thomas, was in an email conversation with Eastman.

Look, even Trump was told that was illegal. According to Jacob, Eastman told him at a Jan. 4 meeting called to again try to persuade Pence. Or it could have been at the January 5 meeting. The versions differ, but not the fact that a rogue lawyer and a rogue president were plotting a scheme they knew was illegal.

As you can guess, illegality is not a problem for Trump. Even getting caught is not a problem. He always got out of trouble, didn’t he? He was all in, though some of the usual suspects – even those like Mark Meadows – seemed to have had their doubts.

In his testimony, White House attorney Eric Herschmann told Eastman in the days leading up to Jan. 6 that he was “crazy” and that there was a real danger it would “cause riots in the streets”. According to Herschmann, Eastman “said something like, ‘There has been violence in the history of our country to protect democracy or to protect the Republic.’ ”

Jacob said he said much the same thing to Eastman about the potential for violence and that Eastman remained impassive.

And when Trump’s Jan. 6 rally ended and the Capitol storming began, Jacob reconnected with Eastman, telling him he was a “snake in the president’s ear” and ” thanks to your bullshit, we are now under siege”. .”

Eastman testified on videotape in a deposition for the committee and was asked these questions. He took the Fifth Amendment more than 100 times and answered no questions of importance. You think he had Judge Carter’s words ringing in his ears? Let’s just say that one of the revelations from the hearing is that the day after Jan. 6, Eastman asked Rudy Giuliani if ​​there was still a Trump pardon list and, if so, might there be a spot. Turns out he didn’t.

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I’m not prepared to call Pence a hero, as the committee did. He did a brave thing. But as the John Nichols of Nation pointed out: “The coup plotters came to Mike Pence with a plan to cancel the 2020 presidential election. He did not go public to expose the scheme. He did not alert the FBI or other authorities. He called Dan Quayle to find out if he could accept the coup.

Even Quayle knew enough to warn him against it. If Pence wants to be a hero, let’s see him testify before the committee. It could clear up so much.

On the night of January 6, when the Senate finally resumed session after the riot, Eastman was still plotting, still trying to persuade Pence to do something to disrupt the count. The day after the assault, Eastman was still plotting. But on a call that day with Herschmann, he got some excellent legal advice, which he apparently eventually followed.

“Get a great fucking criminal defense attorney,” Herschmann told Eastman. “You’re going to need it.”

It’s a good bet. The question the committee wants the Justice Department to answer is whether Eastman co-conspirator Donald Trump will also need it.


Mike Littwin has been a columnist for too many years to count. He’s covered Dr. J, four presidential inaugurations, six national conventions, and countless mind-numbing speeches in the snow of New Hampshire and Iowa.


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