Earlier this week, news leaked that the House Select Committee on Jan. 6 is planning to subpoena conservative lawyer and former Trump adviser John Eastman. But the real question isn’t when, or even if, Eastman will appear before the committee. It’s why hasn’t the Department of Justice dusted off charges of sedition and put Eastman in handcuffs.
Not only did Eastman draft a plan by which Mike Pence could refuse to count the votes of states where Donald Trump lost, the Federalist Society chairman did so knowing that he was proposing a course of action that would completely overturn the outcome of a national election, throwing the U.S. into chaos. Following the Jan. 6 insurrection, Eastman seemed to walk back his support for overthrowing the government. In interviews, he called his own plan just a scenario that he put together for “somebody in the legal team. I just don’t recall.” And he claimed anyone trying to implement that plan would be “plain crazy.”
That was before Eastman was caught in a series of videos where he bragged about the plan to a reporter from The Undercurrent. In those videos, Eastman not only asserted the seriousness of his plan, but blamed it’s failure on Pence being too much of “an establishment guy” to carry through with the coup. Eastman was also open about the fact that he and Trump spoke directly with 300 state representatives, trying to get them to interfere with the election in their state.
But now The Washington Post has obtained a draft article authored by one of Mike Pence’s aides. From this, it’s clear Eastman didn’t just blame the failure of the coup on Pence. He also blamed the violence of the Jan. 6 assault on Pence … while that violence was still underway.
As The Post reports, Eastman emailed Pence assistant Greg Jacob while “Pence hid from a marauding mob during the Jan. 6 invasion of the Capitol.” In that email, Eastman called on Pence to follow the plan he had proposed—discarding the votes from seven states, ending the roll call while Trump had a lead in electoral votes, and declaring him the “winner.”
When Jacobs reminded Eastman that his boss was currently under siege by Trump supporters who had assaulted over 100 police officers and trampled a woman to death on their way to smashing through windows and flooding into the Capitol, the coup plotter had a ready response.
“The ‘siege’ is because YOU and your boss did not do what was necessary to allow this to be aired in a public way so that the American people can see for themselves what happened.”
As Pence was being escorted to a safe location, Trump supporters were rampaging through the House chamber while searching for victims and chanting “hang Mike Pence,” and Eastman was blaming the violence on Pence’s refusal to get with the plan.
All of this was part of what Jacob described as a “barrage” of attempts to pressure Pence into compliance. At a bare minimum, based on what we already know, Eastman:
- Authored multiple versions of the plan, including a detailed memo that circulated in the White House and explained not only how Pence could declare Trump the winner without evidence, but how they could recruit Republican House delegations to back that result.
- Presented the plan to Trump and Pence in an Oval Office meeting. In that meeting, both Eastman and Trump pressured Pence to go along with the scheme.
- Remained in contact with Pence’s team on January 6, blaming the violence of that day on Pence’s failure to cooperate.
We don’t yet know the full contents of the email that Eastman sent to Jacob, or what other pressure he tried to apply that day. It’s not yet clear that Eastman told Pence’s team that the way to end the violence was to have Pence announce Trump as the winner, but that certainly seems to be implied by the statements that have been revealed. It is also clear from Jacob’s statements that there was more than one email to Pence’s team from Eastman that day.
If using the threat of mass violence against a sitting vice president in order to pressure him into falsifying the results of an election is not sedition … what is? The DOJ should charge Eastman, or admit that there simply is no legal consequence to attempting to overthrow the nation.
Actually, without the former, the later seems like a given.