Trump attorney Eastman went directly to Arizona’s House speaker with his insurrectionist scheme: report
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John C. Eastman — a far-right attorney, Donald Trump ally, MAGA Republican and prominent figure in the Claremont Institute — has horrified constitutionalists because of his authoritarian plan to overturn the 2020 presidential election results. And one of the Republicans he reached out to directly, according to the Arizona Republic, was Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers.

Referencing reporting in the Arizona Republic, Talking Points Memo's Cristina Cabrera notes that on January 4, 2021, Eastman contacted Bowers directly "to pitch a legal theory on how Arizona's electors ought to be tossed away before Congress" certified "the electoral votes on January 6."

Arizona was one of the five states that went for Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election but flipped to now-President Joe Biden in 2020; the others were Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan and Wisconsin. Trump falsely claimed that he was the real winner in Arizona but was deprived of a victory because of widespread voter fraud, but official bipartisan recounts confirmed that Biden, in fact, won the state.

Regardless, Trump lawyer Eastman was more than happy to promote Trump's false claims of widespread voter fraud. And because of Eastman, Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell and other Trump lawyers, the United States came dangerously close to a constitutional crisis during the late 2020/early 2021 lame duck period. The violent insurrectionist assault on the U.S. Capitol Building on January 6 was unprecedented in U.S. history.

Cabrera notes, "Eastman has claimed he was only…. offering hypotheticals and had no intention of overturning the election. But January 4, the day he spoke to Bowers, was also the day he presented his election-stealing scheme to (Vice President Mike) Pence. Both reported examples show Eastman pressing Republicans to subvert the election, not simply offering disinterested legal advice."

The fact that Eastman has been so prominent in the Claremont Institute is important. Founded in 1979, the right-wing think tank has been around for 42 years — and in the past, it favored a more traditional brand of conservation. Claremont's founder, the late Harry V. Jaffa, was a speechwriter for Sen. Barry Goldwater during his 1964 presidential campaign. But Claremont has taken an increasingly dark and authoritarian turn in recent years, fully embracing Trump's MAGA movement and pushing far-right conspiracy theories. In a notorious essay for the American Mind published on March 24 and headlined "Conservatism Is No Longer Enough," Glenn Ellmers (a Claremont senior fellow) argued that most people living in the U.S. are no longer Americans in the true sense. Ellmers' essay was right out of the Viktor Orbán/Vladimir Putin/Marine LePen school of hyper-nationalist far-right authoritarianism.

Eastman, like Ellmers, has championed the MAGA movement vigorously. And more traditional conservatives and libertarians such as those at The Bulwark have been appalled by his scheme, outlined in a two-page memo, for overturning the 2020 election results.

According to Cabrera, "Eastman's reported conversation with Bowers fell on the same day as the attorney's Oval Office meeting with Pence, during which Eastman laid out his now-infamous memo explaining how the vice president could hijack Congress' certification process to keep Trump in power. Eastman proposed that Pence throw out electors from the swing states Biden had won, including Arizona, and let the GOP-controlled state legislatures or U.S. House Republicans choose new electors…. The Arizona Republic's new report on Eastman apparently trying to personally lobby an individual state Republican leader reveals the extent to which the lawyer tried to make his cloak-and-dagger scheme, which was fully backed by Trump, a reality."

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