Updated Jun 16, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Trump's plan would've created "first constitutional crisis," witness says

Greg Jacob and J. Michael Luttig are sworn-in as they testify before the House Select Committee. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Former federal judge J. Michael Luttig testified Thursday that if former President Trump succeeded in convincing former Vice President Pence to declare Trump the president in 2020, it would have been "the first constitutional crisis since the founding of the republic."

The big picture: Luttig advised Pence that his only role was to "count the electoral college votes as they have been cast," rejecting Trump campaign attorney John Eastman's legal theory that Pence could unilaterally reject electors.

Driving the news: "The declaration of Donald Trump as the next president would have plunged America into what I believe, would have been tantamount to a revolution within a constitutional crisis in America," Luttig testified during the third public Jan. 6 hearing on Thursday.

  • "Which in my view … would have been the first constitutional crisis since the founding of the republic," he continued.
  • Luttig also testified: "I would have laid my body across the road before I would have let the vice president overturn the 2020 election on the basis of that historical precedent."

Greg Jacob, Pence's former counsel who has also pushed back against Eastman's legal theory, also testified Thursday that "the vice president does not have the authority to reject the slate of electors, there is no suggestion of any kind."

Between the lines: Jacob also said that he called Pence saying: "I can't wait to go to heaven and meet the framers and tell them, 'the work that you did in putting together our Constitution is a work of genius ... There is one sentence that I would like to talk to you a little bit about,'" Jacob testified.

Go deeper... Who's testifying at the third Jan. 6 committee hearing

Editor's note: This story has been updated with new details throughout.

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