John Eastman, the lawyer who made Donald Trump dream of coups

The hearings of the American commission of inquiry into the assault on the Capitol, which resumes on Tuesday June 21, have revealed the central role played by lawyer John Eastman in Donald Trump’s efforts to challenge the results of the November 2020 presidential election.

He was the revelation of the first week of the hearings of the American commission of inquiry into the storming of the Capitol. Lawyer John Eastman went from being the umpteenth oddball on planet Trump to “leading actor” – with ex-president Donald Trump – in the drama of the events of January 6, 2021.

While the fourth day of work of this commission is due to begin on Tuesday, June 21, everyone is wondering what new actions of this lawyer, who whispers coup plans in the ear of the president, will be revealed.

A six-point plan to contest defeat

During the first hearings, John Eastman appeared so central to Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the results of the November 2020 presidential election that he even managed to overshadow the ubiquitous Rudy Giuliani.

It’s no small feat: the former mayor of New York, who became political adviser to Donald Trump, was portrayed by the testimonies broadcast during the hearings as a conspiracy theorist who, in a state of drunkenness on election night, did everything to convince the incumbent president to challenge the results.

But John Eastman seems to have done worse. It is he who is said to have devised the final plan that Donald Trump’s team is accused of having tried to implement to prevent Joe Biden from becoming president.

John Eastman is the man who made Donald Trump believe that his Vice President, Mike Pence, held the keys to the election. He concocted a six-point document explaining how the vice-president could interrupt the process of certification of the results on January 6, and validate a second term for the outgoing president, yet beaten at the ballot box.

The existence of this plan has been known since September 2021. Its legal validity has already been repeatedly nullified by almost all experts in American constitutional law.

But at the time, it was thought that this whimsical document had been written at the request of the suspended tenant of the White House. The hearings of the commission of inquiry showed that this was not the case. John Eastman has enjoyed a meteoric rise in the presidential orbit and has done everything, including putting the vice president’s safety on the line to feed the incumbent president’s re-election fantasies.

Before Donald Trump’s electoral defeat, John Eastman was not much in the media. Regulars of the Fox New television channel occasionally saw this 62-year-old lawyer, a teacher at Chapman University in California, comment on the country’s legal news.

From opposition to same-sex marriage to the “coup”

His remarks were perfectly in line with the editorial line of this ultra-conservative chain of the Murdoch empire. John Eastman has always evolved in the shadow of personalities or institutions on the very right of the American political spectrum.

He served as an aide to Clarence Thomas, one of the most conservative justices of the current US Supreme Court. John Eastman also belongs to the Federalist Society, an organization of conservative and libertarian jurists, which is the main legal arm of the American right which wishes to reconsider the right to abortion.

Before pouring into eccentric theories to annul the results of a democratic election, this lawyer was above all active in preventing homosexuals from having the right to marry. He illustrated himself by asserting that homosexuality was a “modern form of barbarism” aimed at “undermining the foundations of society”.

But it was not his homophobia that interested Donald Trump. The latter was very interested in a column that John Eastman published in Newsweek where he contested the right of Kamala Harris to become vice-president because there could be “doubts” about her nationality. An unfounded theory with strong racist overtones which was reminiscent of Donald Trump’s fabrications about Barack Obama’s American citizenship, says the American public radio channel NPR.

That’s when John Eastman joined the “ballot integrity task force” that Donald Trump had set up. He then became the man in charge of developing, behind the scenes, all possible strategies to contest a possible defeat of his champion in the presidential election of November 2020. “John Eastman appears as a central element in the effort to provide legal justification for a coup,” Douglas Letter, the general counsel in the House of Representatives of Congress, concluded during the hearings.

No mercy for John Eastman

The parliamentary commission of inquiry was able to confirm that John Eastman knew that his plan was illegal when he presented it to Donald Trump, shortly after the presidential results, underlines CNN.

When he addressed pro-Trump protesters on Jan. 6 outside the Capitol hours before the riots began, he also knew his theory could lead to riots. In particular, by designating Mike Pence as the man who could have saved the election of Donald Trump. “I said to him, ‘You know this is a call for violence.’ And he answered me that there have already been episodes of violence in our history to protect democracy or the republic”, said Eric Herschmann, the former legal adviser to the White House during the hearings before the commission. parliamentary inquiry.

Even after the January 6 violence, John Eastman continued to seek ways to annul the election. The day after the assault on the Capitol, this lawyer contacted Eric Herschmann to ask him to recount the votes in Georgia (one of the states where the results were tightest). “I told him that I didn’t want to hear a single fucking (sic) word come out of his mouth that wasn’t ‘democratic transition’ and advised him to find himself a fucking good defense attorney. because he would need it”, said this other lawyer. The investigation by the parliamentary commission could, in fact, push the Ministry of Justice to open criminal proceedings against him.

John Eastman must have quickly felt the tide turn, as he asked to be put on the list of presidential pardons that Donald Trump could grant before his departure. The outgoing president refused.

Since then, no one knows if John Eastman has found a “good lawyer” because he has only one sentence in his mouth: “I plead the Fifth Amendment” which allows an accused to remain silent. He has invoked this constitutional right more than a hundred times since the start of the work of the commission of inquiry into the assault on the Capitol.

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