Last month, Robin Vos, the Republican Speaker of the Wisconsin Assembly, participated in a ridiculous meeting. The powerful state legislator agreed to listen to a group of conspiracy theorists who pleaded with Vos to decertify President Joe Biden’s victory in the Badger State 15 months earlier.
Such a step is indefensible — the Democratic ticket won Wisconsin fair and square — and legally impossible, but the two-hour meeting happened anyway because GOP politics has been poisoned to a ridiculous degree.
What we didn’t know, however, is who exactly participated in the absurd conversation. ABC News reported that none other than John Eastman, a controversial former lawyer on Donald Trump’s team, was on hand to help apply pressure.
Eastman in the meeting urged Vos to decertify the election, sources familiar with the meeting said. According to Jefferson Davis, a Wisconsin activist pushing to reverse Biden’s victory who was also in the meeting, Trump’s former lawyer pushed Vos to start “reclaiming the electors” and move forward with “either a do over or having a new slate of electors seated that would declare someone else the winner.”
For now, let’s just brush past the fact that one of the relevant activists is apparently named Jefferson Davis.
It’s important to emphasize that this reporting has not been independently verified by MSNBC or NBC News. That said, Eastman seemed to confirm at least part of the story, telling ABC News, “By explicit request from Speaker Vos, that meeting was confidential, so I am not able to make any comment.”
By all indications, the conspiracy theorists did not get the results they wanted. Like far too many Republican officials who really ought to know better, Vos has lent his voice to outlandish election fraud claims, but he’s also said decertification of the 2020 election results isn’t an option.
But what matters most in this story is the fact that Eastman even made the effort.
For those who might need a refresher, let’s back up and review how we arrived at this bizarre point.
It was in the summer of 2020 when Eastman published a bizarre piece that argued that Vice President Kamala Harris was ineligible for national office because her parents immigrated to the United States. Soon after, he began working with Trump — the then-president saw him on Fox News and was impressed — and as part of that work, Eastman filed a brief in December 2020 on 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 effectively outlined how Republicans could execute something resembling a post-election coup.
This, naturally, made him a witness of great interest to the committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack, but when Eastman sat down with congressional investigators, the Republican lawyer reportedly pleaded the Fifth — by some accounts, nearly 150 times.
The panel proceeded to subpoena Eastman’s records, most notably the emails from his time working with Trump to overturn the election. The Republican lawyer tried to block that effort, claiming the materials were protected by attorney-client privilege.
It led the Jan. 6 committee to argue that communications between attorneys and clients are not protected if they’re discussing committing crimes. Two weeks ago, a federal judge agreed, concluding, “Based on the evidence, the Court finds it more likely than not that President Trump corruptly attempted to obstruct the joint session of Congress on January 6, 2021.”
It’s against this extraordinary backdrop that Eastman, as recently as a month ago, was still running around trying to overturn Trump’s defeat. Indeed, this isn’t limited to Wisconsin. ABC News’ report added:
In February, Eastman also joined leaders of Colorado’s election denial campaign, holding an “emergency town hall meeting” in Castle Rock. The meeting, organized by FEC United founder Joe Oltman, rallied the crowd against Secretary of State Jenna Griswold, falsely accusing her of participating in an election fraud conspiracy. During the meeting, Eastman boasted about his involvement in election lawsuits in Texas, Pennsylvania, Georgia and Wisconsin and decried the “attacks” that he and others who push election conspiracies have experienced, calling it “pure evil,” according to a video of the meeting posted by FEC United.
Eastman’s connection to election realities appears to be roughly in line with his capacity for shame.