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Trump Lawyer John Eastman Literally Told A Lawmaker To Toss Absentee Votes, Unseat Biden Electors


Before he urged Vice President Mike Pence to unilaterally hand the 2020 election to Donald Trump, right-wing lawyer John Eastman, who represented Trump after the election, floated a somewhat subtler, but no less extreme plan to undermine Joe Biden’s victory: Throw out absentee ballots, recount the votes, and use the new totals to “provide some cover” for Republican legislatures to appoint their own electors. “Having done that math,” Eastman wrote in a December 2020 email to a Pennsylvania state lawmaker, “you’d be left with a significant Trump lead that would bolster the argument for the Legislature adopting a slate of Trump electors.”

“Perfectly within your authority to do anyway,” Eastman added, “but now bolstered by the untainted popular vote.”

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The Pennsylvania plan, which Eastman proposed from his email account at University of Colorado, where he was a visiting professor, provides yet another glimpse into the Trump team’s relentless efforts to subvert democracy in 2020. It was part of a trove of emails obtained by the Colorado Ethics Institute and sent in April to the House select committee investigating the January 6 attack, which has been fighting in court to obtain more than 3,000 documents from Eastman related to the probe. The Denver Post first reported on his proposal to recalibrate the Pennsylvania popular vote.

In the December 4 guidance to Republican State Representative Russ Diamond, one of 26 pro-Trump radicals in the Pennsylvania legislature who had already pushed for the state’s results to be decertified, Eastman suggested GOP lawmakers “adopt a resolution that has the Legislature simply affirming what appears to have been the result of the popular vote untainted by the illegal votes.” Adjusting the total without those so-called “illegal votes” — absentee ballots, those with supposed “signature verification violations,” and “perhaps the banning of observers” — could give “cover” to Pennsylvania Republicans seeking to appoint new electors, Eastman said.

The emails underscore the lengths to which Trump allies went in their attempts to undermine Biden’s victory, but, as Politico notes, it also illustrates Eastman’s own shifting strategies: In one email to Diamond, he wrote that the Electoral Count Act of 1887 would render any objections by national Republicans futile. “Don’t let your colleagues rest on that letter,” Eastman wrote.

He would, of course, go on to cast the ECA as unconstitutional and push Pence to essentially decide the election himself January 6 rather than preside over the certification. When a MAGA mob stormed Congress in an attempt to thwart that process — and to “hang Mike Pence,” as they chanted during the attack — Eastman blamed the then-vice president for the violence. “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 a top Pence aide as the insurrection unfolded.

Eastman has since refocused from fighting Biden’s victory to fighting attempts to hold anyone accountable for the attempted subversion, battling the release of documents being sought by the January 6 committee — a group of “hard core leftist activists,” as he’s described the investigators in the lucrative crowdfunding campaign for his legal “defense,” per Rolling Stone. He’s already lost once; in March, a federal judge not only ordered Eastman to turn over about a hundred documents to the committee — he ruled that Eastman and Trump had “likely” committed crimes in their efforts to subvert the election. “Their campaign was not confined to the ivory tower,” California District Court Judge David Carter wrote. “It was a coup in search of a legal theory.”





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