During Thursday’s Jan. 6 committee hearing, the panel discussed “constitutional scholar” John Eastman’s strategy to change the results of the 2020 presidential election, emphasizing that Eastman’s plan was blatantly unconstitutional. In fact, it was a political calculation on Eastman’s part (and subsequently Trump’s) that the Donald and other GOP operatives could overthrow our democracy if they could just get Vice President Mike Pence to go along. Say what you will about Vice President Mike Pence (which I’ve said here and there), but he didn’t choose to go along with a coup d’etat even though he was presented with the opportunity to do so many times in 2021.
The Jan. 6 committee heard from Pence’s legal counsel, who had frequent conversations with John Eastman and Trump’s allies who were trying to pressure Pence into breaking the law. They also spoke with Eastman’s former boss, Judge J. Michael Luttig, who seemed genuinely dismayed and shaken by the bad-faith leaps of logic in Eastman’s arguments against our country’s democratic processes as laid out in the 12th Amendment.
Democratic Rep. Pete Aguilar of California led Thursday’s inquiry of the evidence. After playing testimony from former Trump lawyer, Eric Herschmann, about his final conversation with Eastman. the Jan. 6 committee dropped the hammer.
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Herschmann first explained that his final conversation with Eastman, the day after the events of Jan. 6, was antagonistic. Herschmann says he admonished Eastman for his part in the coup d’etat and told him to get a “great criminal defense lawyer, you’re going to need it.”
Aguilar followed that up by sharing an email from John Eastman to Rudy Giuliani, in which Eastman asked about getting his name on a “pardon list.” In fact, the pull quote here got pulled up on the screen for the world to see: “Third, I’ve decided that I should be on the pardon list, if that is still in the works.”
The committee followed that up with Eastman’s testimony to the committee—a stretch of video that included him invoking the Fifth Amendment to every question. In all, the committee reports, Eastman invoked the Fifth at least 100 times, while what we can only imagine is a very expensive and fancy criminal attorney sits next to him. That’s in writing.
The Department of Justice can say whatever they like, but if its job is to investigate and prosecute criminals—especially criminals who try to overthrow the government—then this seems to be a smoking gun set of revelations. Maybe the committee can get a certain Supreme Court Justice’s wife and her emails and pressure campaign on election officials and representatives into the hearing room. The American people are clear that they want this investigation to get to the bottom of things, and so now it is time for Attorney General Merrick Garland to make his appointment mean something.
It might be macabre to watch someone metaphorically digging their own grave, but in this case, you should enjoy.
We talk to expert Brandi Buchman about everything you need to know for the Jan. 6 committee, hearings, and investigation on Daily Kos' The Brief podcast