John Eastman, the conservative attorney whose plan to block congressional certification of the 2020 election failed in spectacular fashion on January 6, 2021, sent an email two weeks later arguing that pro-Trump forces should sue to continue they are looking for alleged electoral fraud. they acknowledged that they were unable to find.
On January 20, 2021, hours after President Biden was sworn in, Mr. Eastman emailed Rudolph W. Giuliani, former President Donald J. Trump’s personal attorney, suggesting they contest the Georgia runoff election for two Senate seats. which the Democrats had won on January 5.
“Many of us have now staked our reputations on allegations of voter fraud and this would be one way to gather evidence,” Mr. Eastman wrote in the so-far-unknown email, which was also sent to others, including a top campaign adviser. Trump. . “If we receive evidence of fraud on January 5, it will likely also demonstrate fraud on November 3, thereby vindicating President Trump’s claims and serving as a strong bulwark against the Senate impeachment trial.”
The email, which was reviewed by The New York Times and authenticated by people working on the Trump campaign at the time, is the latest evidence that even some of Mr. Trump’s staunchest supporters knew they had not substantiated the baseless claims. them for extended voting. fraud — but they wanted to continue their efforts to delegitimize the result even after Mr. Biden took office.
Mr. Eastman’s message also underscored that he had not taken on the task of keeping Mr. Trump in office simply out of conviction: He sought Mr. Giuliani’s help in collecting a $270,000 invoice he had sent to the Trump campaign the day before for LEGAL SERVICES.
The charges included $10,000 a day for eight days of work in January 2021, including the two days before Jan. 6 when Mr. Eastman and Mr. Trump, during meetings in the Oval Office, tried unsuccessfully to pressure Mr. Vice President Mike Pence to move forward with a plan to block congressional certification of Electoral College results on January 6. (Mr. Eastman appears never to have been paid.)
A lawyer for Mr. Eastman did not respond to a request for comment.
The email disclosure comes as the Justice Department ramps up its criminal investigation into the 2020 election attempt. Patrick F. Philbin, who was a deputy White House counsel under Mr. Trump, was subpoenaed by the major grand jury in the case, a person with knowledge of the situation said.
Mr. Philbin is the last senior former White House official known to have been subpoenaed to testify before the grand jury. Others include his former boss, Pat A. Cipollone, who, as White House counsel, argued with other White House lawyers against some of the more extreme steps proposed by Mr. Trump and his advisers as they tried to maintain power.
Previous calls to some people had sought information about outside lawyers, including Mr. Eastman and Mr. Giuliani, who were advising Mr. Trump and advancing his efforts to overturn the results.
In June, federal agents armed with a search warrant seized Mr. Eastman’s phone, stopping him as he was leaving a restaurant in New Mexico.
Key revelations from the January 6 hearings
Suing Trump. The House committee investigating the January 6 attack presents a comprehensive account of President Donald J. Trump to overturn the 2020 election. Here are the main themes that have emerged so far from eight public hearings:
In testimony to the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on Capitol Hill, another White House lawyer, Eric Hersman, said that on Jan. 7, 2021, Mr. Eastman brought with him the idea of suing Georgia. Mr. Herschmann said he responded that Mr. Eastman was out of his mind, adding that he told Mr. Eastman: “I only want to hear two words come out of your mouth from now on: orderly transition.”
Mr. Herschmann, according to his account, went on to tell Mr. Eastman that he should get a great criminal defense lawyer because he would need one.
The newly revealed email shows that Mr. Eastman did not give up even after Mr. Biden was sworn in. It was sent after the Trump campaign had raised tens of millions of dollars from solicitations to Mr. Trump’s supporters who suggested the money be used to fight voter fraud, although claims by Mr. Trump and his allies were rejected by the courts and were widely shot down even by Mr. Trump’s own Justice Department.
By suggesting that Georgia runoffs be used as an avenue to find fraud in the general election held months earlier, Mr. Eastman tacitly admitted that other, more direct accusations of fraud have failed to gain traction.
The email suggests that Mr. Eastman saw the courts in Georgia as an investigative tool, using the discovery process, to continue trying to bolster claims that had already been dismissed.
“We have to figure out how to continue the fight,” Mr. Eastman wrote. “I’m inclined to pursue a runoff challenge in Georgia, using what we’ve already learned (massive statistical anomalies, violations of Georgia law, etc.) as a basis. Under Georgia law, a challenge can be filed by any qualified voter, even if the candidates themselves are not interested.”
In the email, Mr. Eastman argued that if the team of Trump lawyers and advisers involved in the effort could find fraud in the Jan. 5 runoffs in Georgia — won by Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, both Democrats – they could vindicate themselves for the claims they made about the November election.
Toward the end of the email, Mr. Eastman suggested that the Trump campaign could fund ongoing efforts. He named a group of lawyers he would recommend, but said two of them needed their outstanding Trump campaign bills paid before they would consider taking on the project.
Mr. Eastman was not the only one who sought payment from the bloated campaign coffers for efforts to keep Mr. Trump in office. An associate of Mr. Giuliani sent an email to the campaign shortly after Election Day 2020 asking for $20,000 a day in compensation for Mr. Giuliani. At the time, Mr. Giuliani urged Mr. Trump to continue fighting the election results, and he jumped at the chance to lead legal efforts to do just that.
But Mr. Trump told his advisers at the time that Mr. Giuliani would get “paid when it comes,” a reference to a casino dice bet that is essentially a payout on a successful roll of the dice, according to two of the people. with knowledge of the discussions.
Mr. Eastman told some of Mr. Trump’s aides that he was working for free, according to one of the people with knowledge of the discussions. At the same time, he had entered into a private agreement with another lawyer working on Mr. Trump’s efforts, Bruce Marks, to be reimbursed through Mr. Marks, although it does not appear that he received any money that way.
When Mr. Biden became president, Mr. Eastman sought to be paid directly, the Jan. 20 email shows, although two people with knowledge of the campaign’s finances said he never was. In addition to asking to be paid for his time working with the White House in January, he tried to bill the Trump campaign $125,000 for his work in a lawsuit filed by the Texas attorney general seeking to have the election results in a series of battle states. canceled. The lawsuit was quickly dismissed by the Supreme Court.
Since the rebellion on Capitol Hill, Mr. Eastman has gone from a little-known conservative college professor to the best-known legal architect and supporter of the plan to use purported voter lists that support Mr. Trump in an effort to block or delay his certification. Congress. Mr. Biden’s victory on January 6.
His actions have been the focus of both a Justice Department investigation and a House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack and what led up to it. Mr. Eastman repeatedly invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination when questioned by the committee.
During private meetings at the White House in the days leading up to Jan. 6, Mr. Eastman tried to persuade Mr. Pence and his top lawyer, Greg Jacobs, to go along with the plan to overturn the election.
In the first meeting, on January 4, Mr Trump and Eastman brought Mr Pence and two of his top aides, Mr Jacobs and Mark Short, to the Oval Office. This meeting was followed by another on January 5, at which Mr. Eastman again tried to persuade Mr. Jacob to go along with the plan.
After Mr. Jacobs refused, Trump publicly pressured Pence in front of a raucous crowd of supporters at the Ellipse on Jan. 6. Later that day, when a pro-Trump mob attacked the Capitol, Mr. Jacobs emailed Mr. Eastman blaming him for the violence.
In March, a federal judge ruled in a civil case that Mr. Eastman and Mr. Trump likely committed felonies as they pushed to overturn the election, including obstruction of Congress and conspiracy to defraud the United States.
The actions taken by Mr Trump and Eastman, the judge found, amounted to a “coup in pursuit of a legal theory”.