John Eastman Did One Measly Coup Plot, Can Have Get-Out-Of-Shunning-Free Card?
The Claremont Institute is mad as hell, and they're not going to take it anymore. Coups 4 Dummies author John Eastman has called the conservative think tank home for years, and now his distinguished brethren are here to set you liberal thugs straight about good, kind, noble John Eastman, who is known above all for his intellectual honestly and unbiased legal analysis.
"The Claremont Institute does not normally comment on the work of its scholars," Board Chair Thomas D. Klingenstein and Institute President Ryan P. Williams huffed in an open letter published on the site's blog American Mind. "But a recent combined disinformation, de-platforming, and ostracism campaign requires us to make an exception."
Because Eastman still got invited to hang at the Federalist Society after endorsing Uganda's anti-gay laws and saying Kamala Harris isn't a real American, so now they think he's entitled to a Get Out of Social Opprobrium Free Card for plotting to overthrow the government. Geez, people, it's just one little coup, why are you so touchy?
"Claremont Institute Senior Fellow John Eastman, acting as counsel to the President of the United States at a critical stage during the 2020 elections in December 2020 and January 2021, offered legal advice that has since been maliciously misrepresented and distorted by major media outlets," they continue, seemingly oblivious of the fact that the election ended in November when we all voted. That shit in December and January was the coup part where their guy tried to overturn the results and give us the maniac we didn't elect.
And that's not the only fib these Claremont guys are flogging. Just look at this shit:
Contrary to almost universally false news accounts, which have done great damage, John did not ask the Vice President, who was presiding over the Joint Session of Congress where electoral votes were to be counted on January 6, to "overturn" the election or to decide the validity of electoral votes. John advised the Vice President to accede to requests from state legislators to pause the proceedings of the Joint Session of Congress for 7 to 10 days, to give time to the state legislatures to assess whether the acknowledged illegal conduct by their state election officials had affected the results of the election.
Roll tape, and by tape we mean the memo where Eastman laid out his plans:
VP Pence opens the ballots, determines on his own which is valid, asserting that the authority to make that determination under the 12th Amendment, and the Adams and Jefferson precedents, is his alone (anything in the Electoral Count Act to the contrary is therefore unconstitutional). [Emphasis added.]
For the record, none of those state election officials had "acknowledged" any "illegal conduct" in their efforts to ensure access to the ballot during a viral pandemic. Eastman's just pissed that it worked, which doesn't make it illegal, as dozens of courts had already confirmed. Nor were there official "requests" from the legislatures themselves to toss out any state's ballots — although individual Republican legislators were howling for it and a bunch of randos swore themselves in as "alternate slates" of cosplay electors and Eastman proposed that Pence should exploit their maniac delusions to pretend there was confusion about the vote tally.
"When he gets to Arizona, he announces that he has multiple slates of electors, and so is going to defer decision on that until finishing the other States," he wrote. "This would be the first break with the procedure set out in the Act."
The defenders' screed goes on to insist that Eastman was simply advising the VP to let Congress make the final decision: "If the state legislatures had found sufficient illegal conduct to have altered the results, and as a result submitted a second slate of electors, John advised the Vice President that, despite credible legal arguments to the contrary, the Vice President should regard Congress, not the Vice President, as having the authority to choose between the two slates."
Which is CHUTZPAH! Here on Planet Earth, Eastman presented three possible scenarios after Pence had made the unilateral decision to reject swing state electors on the theory that expanding ballot access somehow invalidated upwards of 22 million votes.
In the first instance, Pence would reject the duly certified swing state electors and pretend that those states had "failed to make a choice" in accord with constitutional order. This would allow Pence to defer to Republican legislatures, which would jump at the opportunity to overturn the will of their own voters and send new slates of electors to vote for Trump.
If the state legislatures somehow failed to do that, Eastman had a second plan to ensure the desired outcome: "Pence determines, based on all the evidence and the letters from state legislators calling into question the executive certifications, decides to count neither slate of electors." At which point, having reduced the denominator by tossing out enough Biden votes, Trump would be the victor.
In the third scenario, Pence could declare himself unable to determine the validity of the swing state electors and allow the House to vote on it under the one vote per state formula: "IF the Republicans in the State Delegations stand firm, the vote there is 26 states for Trump, 23 for Biden, and 1 split vote. TRUMP WINS." [Emphasis in the original.]
So you can miss us with this bullshit about simply deferring to Congress. The plan depended on Pence arrogating to himself the unilateral power to reject votes from states Trump thought he was entitled to win.
And that is exactly what Pence understood Eastman to be asking him to do. In a January 6 letter to Trump, the Vice President wrote, "As a student of history who loves the Constitution and reveres its Framers, I do not believe that the Founders of our country intended to invest the Vice President with unilateral authority to decide which electoral votes should be counted during the Joint Session of Congress, and no Vice President in American history has ever asserted such authority."
Indeed, Eastman himself acknowledged that his plan was hinky as hell, but justified it by blaming Democrats: "BOLD, Certainly. But this Election was Stolen by a strategic Democrat plan to systematically flout existing election laws for partisan advantage; we're no longer playing by Queensbury Rules, therefore."
And not for nothing, but he wasn't advocating for Queensbury Rules on January 6 when he addressed the crowd that went on to storm the Capitol.
He also wrote what is perhaps the most awkward sentence in contemporary English: "Modernly, that is done via statutes that establish the procedures pursuant to which an election must be conducted." For that alone, he deserves to be shunned by all right-thinking Americans.
In summary and in conclusion, fuck off with this lie about Eastman not attempting to overthrow the government. We were all there, we all saw him do it, and we won't forget.
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Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.