Jun 16, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Eastman sought White House pardon after Jan. 6

Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images)

Dr. John Eastman, the conservative legal scholar and ex-lawyer for former President Trump who championed the theory along with Trump that the vice president could unilaterally reject electors, sought a presidential pardon in the aftermath of Jan. 6.

Why it matters: The revelation came out in a hearing of the Jan. 6 select committee, where the panel sought to prove that Trump and those around him were fully aware of the illegality of their plans.

Driving the news: According to Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-Calif.), who led the Thursday hearing, Eastman sent an email to Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani "a few days after" Jan. 6 seeking a pardon.

  • "I've decided that I should be on the pardon list, if that is still in the works," Eastman wrote.
  • Eastman, when he was deposed by the Jan. 6 committee, took the Fifth Amendment 100 times, Aguilar said.

The backdrop: Eastman repeatedly acknowledged that his proposal for former Vice President Mike Pence to unilaterally reject electors lacked a legal basis.

  • He emailed associates the plan was "dead on arrival" days after state legislatures refused to certify alternate slates of Trump electors.
  • Former Pence counsel Greg Jacob testified Thursday that Eastman said former Vice President Al Gore didn't have had that power in 2000 and that Vice President Kamala Harris won't have it in 2024.
  • Former Pence chief of staff Marc Short said in closed-door testimony, played at the hearing, that Eastman told him on Jan. 4 that the proposal violated the Electoral Count Act.
  • Eastman also emailed Jacob the night of Jan. 6, after the Capitol riot, asking him to "consider one more relatively minor violation" of the ECA.

The bottom line: These actions opened Eastman up to criminal liability, according to Judge David Carter, who wrote in March that Trump and Eastman's efforts were a "coup in search of a legal theory."

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