Eastman told Trump plot to overturn election was illegal on Jan. 4, Pence aide says

Greg Jacob and Michael Luttig testify during a House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th hearing
Greg Jacob, who was counsel to former Vice President Mike Pence, left, and Michael Luttig, a retired federal judge, testify during a House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th hearing on Thursday.
(Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times)
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A former aide to then-Vice President Mike Pence told congressional investigators in a deposition shown Thursday that conservative lawyer John Eastman admitted to President Trump days before the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection that a plot to overturn the 2020 election was illegal.

Greg Jacob, Pence’s former counsel, told investigators he believed Eastman said in front of Trump on Jan. 4, 2021, that his plan for Pence to reject Congress’ certification of the 2020 election ran afoul of the Electoral Count Act of 1887.

“What the president wanted the vice president to do was not just wrong,” Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), vice chair of the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol attack, said in her opening statement. “It was illegal and unconstitutional.”


“President Trump was told repeatedly that Mike Pence lacked the constitutional and legal authority to do what President Trump was demanding he do,” Cheney said as she introduced footage of an interview with former Pence Chief of Staff Marc Short.

 John Eastman testifies on Capitol Hill in 2017.
John Eastman testifies on Capitol Hill in 2017.
(Susan Walsh/Associated Press)

Short told investigators that Pence had directly communicated to Trump “many times” that he lacked the authority to overturn the election results.

“President Trump plotted with a lawyer named John Eastman to pressure Pence to do so anyway,” Cheney continued, noting that a federal court found it “more likely than not” that Trump and Eastman “dishonestly conspired to obstruct a joint session of Congress on Jan. 6, 2021.”

Cheney noted Eastman was a law professor at Chapman University Law School in Orange County who “prepared a memo outlining the nonsensical theory that the vice president could decide the outcome of the election at the joint session of Congress on Jan. 6.”

“He knew the outcome he wanted, and he saw a way to go forward if he simply pretended that fake electors were real,” Cheney said of Eastman, going on to read an excerpt of an Eastman-authored memo asserting Pence could ultimately declare Trump the winner, regardless of certified vote totals. “This was false, and Dr. Eastman knew it was false. In other words, it was a lie.”


Eastman also admitted in a Dec. 19, 2020, email that “the fake electors had no legal weight,” Cheney said, adding that Eastman wrote about the fake electors at the time as “dead on arrival in Congress.”