Conservative attorney John Eastman is backing away from the so-called "coup memo" he drafted for former president Donald Trump crafting a legal argument for overturning the results of the 2020 presidential election.
The Claremont Institute fellow and Federalist Society member now claims the infamous two-page memo does not accurately reflect his own views or provide legal advice to Trump or former vice president Mike Pence, but instead was something of a thought exercise gaming out possible scenarios for undoing Trump's election loss to Joe Biden, reported the National Review.
"They were internal discussion memos for the legal team," Eastman told John McCormack. "I had been asked to put together a memo of all the available scenarios that had been floated. I was asked to kind of outline how each of those scenarios would work and then orally present my views on whether I thought they were valid or not, so that's what those memos did."
Eastman claims he doesn't remember who tasked him with drafting the memo, which he wrote on Christmas Eve and then expanded into a six-page version on Jan. 3, but admitted that would be possible to determine by looking at his phone records.
"It was somebody in the legal team, I just don't recall," Eastman said. "It was by a phone conversation, and I've gone back in my phone records, and I have so many calls, I can't tell, you know, which call it was. I was asked, if this was the view of the law that were adopted by the court, how would it play out?"
Eastman presented the final six-page memo Jan. 4 in a private White House meeting with the president and vice president, Pence's legal counsel Greg Jacob, and Pence's chief of staff Marc Short, but he claims he told Trump that he did not believe the plan -- which involved the vice president rejecting some slates of electors and sending it back to Republican-led state legislatures, which would then allow the election to be determined by the House of Representatives.
"Republicans currently control 26 of the state delegations, the bare majority needed to win that vote," the two-page memo states. "President Trump is reelected there as well."
Eastman said he didn't believe the plan would work because Reps. Liz Cheney (R-WY) and Mike Gallagher (R-WI) strongly opposed overturning the election results, and no Democrats would have voted to undo Trump's loss.
"Anybody who thinks that that's a viable strategy is crazy," Eastman said.
The attorney also disagrees with his own argument that the vice president is the only person with the authority to count electoral votes, saying that makes no sense because the vice president is likely to be a contender in the election.
"It's certainly not been definitively resolved one way or the other," Eastman said. "There's historical foundation for the argument that the vice president is the final say and the argument that he is not. I think the argument that he is the final say is the weaker argument."
Eastman broadcast the claims he laid out in the memo during the Jan. 6 "Stop the Steal" rally that preceded the U.S. Capitol riot, which prosecutors say was intended to disrupt the certification process to enact the scenario Eastman had described, but he now insists those arguments were never meant to be taken literally.
"The memo was not being provided to Trump or Pence as my advice," Eastman said. "The memo was designed to outline every single possible scenario that had been floated, so that we could talk about it."