CNN is reporting that according to the new book “Peril” by Washington Post journalists Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, a conservative lawyer working with then-President Donald Trump’s legal team tried to persuade then-Vice President Mike Pence that he could overturn the election results on January 6 when Congress counted the Electoral College votes by throwing out electors from seven states.
The strategy proposed by notorious lawyer John Eastman was detailed in a two-page document received by the writers of “Peril” and later obtained by CNN. The document, which had not previously been made public, reveals fresh details about Trump and his team’s efforts to persuade Pence to violate the Constitution and overturn the election results on January 6.
The effort to influence Pence was only one of numerous behind-the-scenes efforts undertaken by Trump’s team before of the January 6 election in a desperate push to overturn the 2020 election defeat, after hundreds of cases were dismissed by the courts. “Peril,” recounts how Eastman’s memo was forwarded to Utah Republican Sen. Mike Lee and how Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani attempted to persuade fellow Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of election fraud.
Lee and Graham, on the other hand, sneered at the arguments, concluding that they were without substance.
“You might as well make your case to Queen Elizabeth II. Congress can’t do this. You’re wasting your time,” Lee said to Trump’s lawyers trying to overturn the results in Georgia, according to the book.
The Eastman document included a six-step strategy for Pence to reverse Trump’s election, including invalidating the results in seven states due to purportedly competing electors. In truth, no state had put up an alternate slate of electors; instead, Trump supporters claimed to be electors while having no power to do so.
Under Eastman’s plan, Pence would have proclaimed Trump the winner with more Electoral College votes after the seven states were excluded, 232 to 222. In order to avoid “howls” from Democrats denouncing the election’s reversal, the document suggests that Pence state that no candidate received 270 votes in the Electoral College.
The election would then be sent to the House of Representatives, where each state would have one vote. Because Republicans controlled 26 state legislatures, a majority of them could vote for Trump to win the election.
The proposal was initially offered to Pence on January 4, when Eastman was with Trump in the Oval Office, during one of Trump’s attempts to persuade Pence that he had the ability to halt the election’s certification.
“You really need to listen to John. He’s a respected constitutional scholar. Hear him out,” Trump said to Pence at that meeting, Woodward and Costa write in “Peril.”
Eastman even suggested in the document that Pence take action without notice.
“The main thing here is that Pence should do this without asking for permission — either from a vote of the joint session or from the Court,” Eastman wrote. “The fact is that the Constitution assigns this power to the Vice President as the ultimate arbiter. We should take all of our actions with that in mind.”
In the end, Pence rejected Eastman’s plan, reasoning that the Constitution gave him no authority beyond counting Electoral College votes. According to the book, he conducted his own consultations prior to January 6, reaching out to former Vice President Dan Quayle and the Senate parliamentarian, both of whom told him unequivocally that he had no authority beyond counting votes.
When Pence declined to intervene, Trump turned to his vice president, criticizing him on Twitter even as the Capitol insurgency raged on January 6.
The message might be of interest to the House Select Committee investigating the January 6 Capitol attack, which has requested materials from the National Archives, including conversations concerning Eastman.
“It shows intent, a sophisticated plan, a blueprint to illegally and unconstitutionally overturn and steal the election” by Trump and his team based on false and misleading information and legal arguments, a source familiar with the investigation told CNN.
Eastman spoke at the protest on January 6th, which preceded the attack on the Capitol. He resigned from his post as a lecturer at Chapman Campus a week after the election, after faculty protests at the Southern California university over his involvement in Trump’s efforts to reverse the election.
According to Eastman, his memo simply “explored all alternatives that had been offered.” Eastman told CNN in an interview on Tuesday that the two-page letter was simply a rough draft. He sent CNN a six-page paper outlining several alternative options for Pence to consider on January 6. Eastman told CNN that at a meeting with Trump and Pence in the Oval Office on January 4, he advised Pence that he should simply postpone certifying results in the seven states, not try to toss the election to Trump.
However, the fact is that a postponement was merely another way to prevent Biden from entering office.
Eastman claimed he informed Pence that it was unclear if he had the right to toss aside slates of electors unilaterally, but that doing so would be “foolish” because state legislatures had not recognized the replacement slates put up by Trump loyalists.
The original two-page Eastman letter was provided to Lee, one of the Senate’s top Republican constitutional authority, as part of Trump’s team’s efforts to persuade Congress not to recognize the election. At the same time, Giuliani submitted numerous letters to Graham, attempting to persuade him that Trump’s team’s accusations of election fraud were credible.
The memos reveal that even some of Trump’s closest friends were skeptical of the steps Trump’s campaign was taking behind the scenes to reverse his loss to Biden. However, when Lee and Graham listened to Trump’s attorneys present their cases, they emphatically rejected their allegations, according to Woodward and Costa.
Lee was taken aback by the memo’s allegations, given that no state had contemplated, let alone proposed, other slates of electors.
“Lee’s head was spinning,” the authors write. “No such procedure existed in the Constitution, any law or past practice. Eastman had apparently drawn it out of thin air.”
Lee also denied the Trump team’s claims that it had a case to overturn the Georgia election results, stating that such claims would have to be made in court.
Woodward and Costa also obtained many memoranda written by Giuliani to Graham in an attempt to persuade him of election fraud in Georgia and other states.
According to the writers, Giuliani briefed Graham at the White House on January 2. Graham disregarded Giuliani’s argument as too abstract when he provided a mathematical study claiming Biden’s victory was improbable.
“Give me some names. You need to put it in writing. You need to show me the evidence,” Graham said, according to the book.
Giuliani then sent Graham a series of letters and documents accusing him of fraud. However, when Graham’s chief Judiciary Committee lawyer Lee Holmes reviewed the accusations, he found them to be sloppy, overpowering, and “added up to nothing,” according to Woodward and Costa. “Holmes reported to Graham that the data in the memos were a concoction, with a bullying tone and eighth grade writing.”
“Third grade,” Graham responded, according to the book. “I can get an affidavit tomorrow saying the world is flat.”
A request for comment from Giuliani was not returned.
Trump has continued to make false allegations that he was robbed of the election. He wrote a fresh letter to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger this week, saying that he should begin the process of decertifying the 2020 election.
Criminal investigators in Georgia have been looking into Trump’s efforts to reverse Georgia’s 2020 election results, including a notorious call Trump made to Raffensperger in which Trump encouraged the secretary of state to “find” the more than 11,000 votes Trump needed to win.
Graham also called Raffensperger as part of the Fulton County district attorney’s investigation. Graham stated that his contact was made to learn more about the procedure of authenticating signatures on mail-in votes.