John Eastman's legal arguments carried with them the threat of violence
I want to keep harping on the centrality of John Eastman, the law professor who wrote the infamous memos urging then vice president Mike Pence to overturn the 2020 elections, because there is no more emblematic figure of the way respectable elite Republicans are willing participants in the destruction of American democracy.
Recent revelations have made clear that Eastman is playing a double game: to the wider world he presents himself as just a lawyer who offered legal advice to a client, with no intent to incite the January 6 riot and indeed with a desire to push Trump and his followers towards a peaceful path. But it’s clear that the riot was an essential outgrowth of the legal strategy Eastman advocated. Think of him as the mafia lawyer who tells you that the Godfather is making an offer you can’t refuse and it would be a pity if anything bad happened. Then, if you refuse, hoodlums show up to rough you up or maybe leave the head of dead horse next to your bed.
That lawyer isn’t just a lawyer, he’s a consigliere. John Eastman is the consigliere of insurrection.
Let’s run through some evidence of how Eastman’s legal strategy went hand in hand with political violence.
1. On Saturday, the Washington Post reported that while Pence was trapped in the Capitol Building on January 6, Eastman was pressing him to overturn the election by claiming the mob represented the justified anger at Pence’s failure to follow Eastman’s strategy:
As Vice President Mike Pence hid from a marauding mob during the Jan. 6 invasion of the Capitol, an attorney for President Donald Trump emailed a top Pence aide to say that Pence had caused the violence by refusing to block certification of Trump’s election loss.
The attorney, John C. Eastman, also continued to press for Pence to act even after Trump’s supporters had trampled through the Capitol — an attack the Pence aide, Greg Jacob, had described as a “siege” in their email exchange.
“The ‘siege’ is because YOU and your boss did not do what was necessary to allow this to be aired in a public way so that the American people can see for themselves what happened,” Eastman wrote to Jacob, referring to Trump’s claims of voter fraud.
2. This excellent National Review piece by John McCormick, based on an interview, has Eastman repeatedly disavowing his memos, going so far as saying they were not “viable” and even “crazy.” The idea being that they were mere legal speculation. But as McCormick notes, that’s at odds with the written record. The McCormick piece is behind a paywall, so I’ve pasted a telling moment below.
3. This recording by Lauren Windsor of American Family Voices, catches Eastman again condemning Pence for accepting the election results. It’s worth contrasting this with what he said in the interview with McCormick.
The fact Eastman is two-faced is bad enough. The greater problem is he’s two-faced about his role in providing the legal arguments for an insurrection. I’d again insist that the way forward is for civil society to penalize him and the institutions that support him. This can be carried out by many tools ranging from disbarment to ostracism.
Share and subscribe
If you enjoyed this post, please share: