The January 6 Committee is methodically slamming Donald Trump’s remaining escape hatches. The committee’s third televised hearing deftly wove together expert and eye-witness testimony, video, and Trump’s own tweets to put the former president at the very center of the failed coup.
Officially, Thursday’s hearing was about whether Vice President Mike Pence had the power to single-handedly decide the winner of the 2020 election. The answer was a resounding “no.” The public learned what those who have been following the J6 committee’s legal findings have long known: that the scheme outlined in the Eastman memos was a crackpot plan that even Eastman acknowledged was illegal.
Just as importantly, today’s hearing established that Trump waged a public and private pressure campaign to get Mike Pence to follow John Eastman’s plan to overturn the election during the certification. This campaign was waged in person, over the phone, and on twitter, and the committee shared evidence of every step.
One of the hearing’s star witnesses was Greg Jacob, Pence’s former counsel. One of the most intriguing aspects of his testimony was a review of an email exchange between Jacob and Eastman that took place while Pence and Jacob were hiding from the mob.
“And thanks to your bullshit, we are now under siege,”Jacob wrote to Eastman from the secure location.
Eastman shot back that the siege was happening “because you and your boss did not do what was necessary.” There you have it in Eastman’s own words: the mob stormed the Capitol because Pence refused to play his assigned role in the coup. And Eastman should know, he was on stage with Trump at the Ellipse when Trump explained to the crowd that Mike Pence had to send the election back to the states so that the Republicans would win the election.
“[The states] want to recertify. But the only way that can happen is if Mike Pence agrees to send it back. Mike Pence has to agree to send it back,” Trump told the crowd.
In another email from hiding, Jacob asked Eastman whether he had advised Trump that the Vice President lacks the power to unilaterally overturn the election. “[Trump] been advised, as you should know, because you were on the phone when I did it,” Eastman wrote back, “But you know him. Once he gets something in his head, it’s hard to get him to change course.”
During this exchange, Jacob forced the former law professor to concede that his plan violated the Electoral Count Act. Jacob also testified that Eastman admitted that not a single Supreme Court Justice would credit Eastman’s far-fetched theory that the vice president can decide who wins an election.
Eastman is saying that he told Trump the coup was illegal, but Trump tried to make it happen anyway. Knowingly, willfully, unlawfully.
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