There were two main takeaways from Thursday’s Jan. 6 committee hearing.
First: Lawyer John Eastman’s plan to have Vice President Mike Pence postpone certification of Joe Biden’s 2020 election victory was an illegal farce.
Second: The threat this scheme posed to American democracy was and remains very real.
During the previous hearing, the committee hinted at what was to come with a teaser video. The clip featured testimony from ex-Trump lawyer Eric Herschmann, who said he told Eastman to get a good criminal defense lawyer after devising the scheme. The committee gave that clip context today.
The members displayed a draft letter intended for Trump, in which Eastman acknowledged there was no legal basis for the scheme. They played testimony from Herschmann saying Eastman didn’t care if the scheme led to violence. They heard testimony from Pence lawyer Gregory Jacob, who said Eastman acknowledged he wouldn’t tolerate Democrats trying a similar scheme. And they revealed emails showing Eastman angling to be considered for a pardon, seemingly acknowledging his criminal exposure.
The committee’s witnesses helped convey the seriousness of the violent mob that stormed the Capitol as part of Eastman’s scheme. Along with Jacob, we heard from conservative former Judge Michael Luttig, who advised Pence’s team not to go along with the plot.
Luttig, an archconservative legal mind in his own right, called Eastman’s scheme “constitutional mischief.”
Luttig, an archconservative legal mind in his own right, called Eastman’s scheme “constitutional mischief.” And he issued a dire warning about Jan. 6 and future anti-democratic attacks to come, saying Trump and his allies are “candidly and proudly” vowing to use Jan. 6 as a blueprint for elections in 2024.
If that’s true, however, they may want to lay low. During the hearing, we also learned the Justice Department has requested all interviews from the Jan. 6 investigation for use in its ongoing criminal inquiries.
The House Jan. 6 committee is holding its fourth public hearing on Tuesday, June 21 at 1 p.m. ET. Get expert analysis in real-time on our liveblog at msnbc.com/jan6hearings.