On Thursday's edition of MSNBC's "Deadline: White House," former Solicitor General Neal Katyal broke down the significance of the new revelations about pro-Trump lawyer John Eastman's actions in the lead-up to the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.
Eastman authored the infamous memo calling for Pence to throw out electors in states Biden won — and new evidence suggests he knew all along this plan was not lawful.
"We know that John Eastman's plan was one that he knew — he said this: "Well, yeah, you're right, we would lose 9-0." He knew he would lose every Supreme Court justice," said anchor Nicolle Wallace. "We know from Judge Luttig that there was no basis in the Constitution or laws of the United States at all for the theory espoused by Mr. Eastman. At all, 'none,' was his quote. And we know that Eastman's thought process, his mind had wandered to the need to be put on the list for pardons. What kind of exposure does John Eastman have criminally?"
"Well, I think as Donald Trump would say, huge. It's massive," said Katyal. "And the picture that was painted today, both with what you're saying, Nicolle, and more generally, like, you get this picture of Donald Trump going attorney shopping, trying to find an attorney who's going to say the nonsense that he wants them to say. He finds Eastman, and then Eastman goes kind of legal theory shopping. He tries to come up with whatever theory he can. That one, you know, when one gets thrown out, you know, as 9-0 loss or something like that, he then pivots to another one and another one and ultimately goes and resurrects the first one, the one that was supposed to lose 9-0. It's bad."
The upshot, argued Katyal, is that Eastman was aware that his plan was illegal — and, by extension, Trump should have known that it was illegal too.
"What the testimony today showed, basically, is that Eastman knew what he was doing wasn't right and he did it anyway because he wanted to keep his guy in power, and I know today felt a little more technical and a little drier in some moments, but that's because, Nicolle, I think the audience today, unlike the first couple of hearings, wasn't as much the American people," said Katyal. "That's obviously an audience. But part of that multiple audiences here. Another one for today really was the Justice Department. I really did feel like today's presentation was done so that prosecutors could watch us and go, oh my god, Eastman. And then, who was Eastman conspiring with? A guy named Donald Trump."
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