IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Team Trump's Eastman talks about, but not to, the Jan. 6 committee

Republican lawyer John Eastman won't talk to the Jan. 6 committee, but he will talk to Fox News about the committee.
Image: John Eastman Lawsuit
John Eastman speaks at a news conference outside of CU Boulder, in Boulder, Colo., on April 29, 2021.Andy Cross / MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images file

Last week, John Eastman became the second Republican lawyer in Donald Trump's orbit to announce he'd plead the Fifth as part of the investigation into the Jan. 6 attack.

"While Dr. Eastman emphatically denies committing any illegal acts, he nonetheless has a reasonable fear that the requested information could be used against him in court," his lawyer wrote.

But while it appears Eastman doesn't want to talk to the bipartisan congressional committee investigating the attack on the Capitol, he is willing to talk about the committee. Talking Points Memo noted overnight:

Former Trump legal adviser John Eastman, aka the attorney who tried to mastermind a coup to keep a president who definitively lost an election in power, is simply appalled by the House Jan. 6 select committee using its authority to get to the bottom of him trying to mastermind a coup. Speaking to a sympathetic Tucker Carlson on Fox News Monday night, Eastman accused the committee of "shredding the entire Constitution" by sending subpoenas for his testimony and telecommunication records.

The controversial GOP lawyer seemed quite animated on this point, arguing during his appearance, "This group that wants to advance a Soviet Communist-style agenda.... We shouldn't be surprised that they're using Soviet Stalinist tactics to do it."

Eastman added that the bipartisan panel's subpoenas are "unconstitutional," and he believes he "shouldn't" cooperate with the congressional probe.

To the extent that the facts matter, lawmakers voted to create this select committee and give it subpoena power. Those subpoenas for information are not suggestions, and Congress has a reasonable expectation that those who receive the subpoenas will cooperate. This is neither Soviet nor unconstitutional.

What's more, as a strategic matter, Eastman appears to be taking a risk through these on-air interviews: The more the conservative attorney is willing to talk publicly about his perspective, the more difficult it becomes to justify his refusal to answer the committee's questions.

For those who may need a refresher about his relevance, it was last summer when Eastman published a bizarre piece that argued that Vice President Kamala Harris was ineligible for national office because her parents were immigrants. 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 the brief last December 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 fleshed out a ridiculous six-step scenario in which then-Vice President Mike Pence, rather than honor the results of the election, would exploit ambiguities in the Electoral Count Act and set aside the Electoral College votes of seven states. That would put Trump in the lead, but it would also leave both candidates short of a majority.

From there, under Eastman's reported plan, the election would shift to the U.S. House, where Republicans controlled enough state delegations to keep Trump in power, despite his defeat.

This was, in other words, an apparent document — written by a lawyer representing the then-president — that effectively outlined how Republicans could execute something resembling a coup. Eastman even pushed his vision on Jan. 6, speaking at the pro-Trump rally ahead of the insurrectionist riot.

Nearly a year later, Eastman won't answer investigators' questions, though he's apparently willing to answer Tucker Carlson's questions.