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During Jan. 6 attack, Trump attorney blamed Pence for riot

During the Jan. 6 riot, one Donald Trump lawyer wrote to a Mike Pence aide, blaming the then-vice president for the violence.

For a Republican lawyer who was largely unknown to the public a year ago, John Eastman has become a surprisingly important political figure of late. As regular readers know, it was Eastman, for example, who filed the brief last December on Donald Trump's behalf that asked the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the 2020 presidential election. (It was filled with factual errors — including an obvious one literally on the first page.)

Soon after, he authored what's become known as the Eastman Memo, which was effectively a blueprint Republican officials could follow to reject the results of the U.S. election and keep the losing candidate in power. The plan involved advising then-Vice President Mike Pence to set a process in motion that would allow congressional Republicans to overturn the election.

Two weeks ago, Eastman spoke to National Review, a conservative magazine, and tried to distance himself from his work, describing the strategy he outlined as "crazy." A day later, when he thought he was speaking privately to a supporter, the GOP lawyer said largely the opposite.

But as The Washington Post reported, Eastman's time in the spotlight is just getting started.

As Vice President Mike Pence hid from a marauding mob during the Jan. 6 invasion of the Capitol, an attorney for President Donald Trump emailed a top Pence aide to say that Pence had caused the violence by refusing to block certification of Trump's election loss. The attorney, John C. Eastman, also continued to press for Pence to act even after Trump's supporters had trampled through the Capitol — an attack the Pence aide, Greg Jacob, had described as a "siege" in their email exchange.

As Pence and his team hid in a secure area, and as insurrectionist rioters — some of whom chanted, "Hang Mike Pence" — worked their way though the Capitol, Eastman could've recoiled in the face of needless political violence. He might've even expressed some sympathy for colleagues who were afraid for their lives.

Instead, the Republican lawyer thought it'd be a good idea, during the riot, to send an email to one of the then-vice president's top aides.

"The 'siege' is because YOU and your boss did not do what was necessary to allow this to be aired in a public way so that the American people can see for themselves what happened," Eastman wrote, referring to ridiculous and discredited conspiracy theories.

It's reminiscent of a similar exchange that happened around the same time. During the same attack, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy called Trump, pleading for assistance. The then-president reportedly said, in reference to the rioters, "Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are."

Eastman's email, however, seems a bit worse — not only because he was blaming Pence for the violence, but also because it reinforces the lawyer's support for his coup strategy.

What's more, CNN also reported over the weekend on Eastman's appearance on Steve Bannon's show on Jan. 2, when the then-presidential attorney claimed Pence had the legal authority to throw the presidential election to the House. It would all depend, Eastman added, on whether the then-vice president had "courage and the spine."

All of this, of course, is wildly at odds with what Eastman told National Review two weeks ago.

The bipartisan House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack is reportedly planning to subpoena Eastman. It's a safe bet he'd have plenty of interesting insights to share.