Eastman was behind the so-called ‘coup’ memo to convince Mike Pence to certify the election results for Trump.
John Eastman, the attorney for former president Donald Trump’s campaign who authored a plan for then-vice President Mike Pence to declare the Electoral College votes for Mr Trump, pleaded the fifth amendment to the select committee investigating the 6 January Capitol riot.
Politico reported that Mr Eastman’s lawyer sent a letter to Rep Bennie Thompson, the chairman of the committee, saying he asserted his client’s right under the US Constitution to not witness against himself.
“As explained below, Dr. Eastman has faced suggestions from multiple sources that he should be criminally investigated for his service as an adviser to former President Trump,” Charles Burnham wrote. Spécifiquement, Mr Burnham noted how members of the committee speaking about making criminal referrals to the Justice Department and determining terms of “guilt” or innocence.
“Dr. Eastman has a more than reasonable fear that any statements he makes pursuant to this subpoena will be used in an attempt to mount a criminal investigation against him,” Mr Burnham wrote.
The letter objects to multiple aspects of the committee, noting how it lacks a “ranking minority member,” even though that came after House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy pulled his members when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi refused to seat Reps Jim Banks and Jim Jordan on the committee.
“Secondly, your extraordinarily broad subpoena goes far beyond even the most expansive reading of the Committee’s authorizing resolution in asking for materials bearing no reasonable relation to the events of January 6,” he said.
Le mois dernier, Mr Eastman was filmed calling Republicans who upheld the 2020 election results “spineless,” as well as criticising Mr Pence’s refusal to go along with the attempt to certify the results for the then-president.
The plan outlined by Mr Eastman was revealed in Bob Woodward and Robert Costa’s book Péril, and would have had Mr Pence announce that Arizona had sent “multiple slates of electors” that he would “defer decision on that until finishing the other states.”
The goal was other “disputed” states would be pushed aside until he announced that “because of the ongoing disputes in the 7 États, there are no electors that can be deemed validly appointed in those states,” which would reduce the number of valid electors to 454 electors and Mr Pence gaveling Mr Trump’s victory with 232 votes.
Mr Eastman also spoke at the “Stop the Steal” rally in Washington that preceded the violent riot on Capitol Hill wherein Trump supporters attempted to stop the certification of election results.
The argument Mr Burnham made mirrors that former Trump administration Justice Department official John Eastman made, specifically the lack of a “ranking minority member.”