Jan 6 hearing recap: Donald Trump lawyer John Eastman requested pardon
WASHINGTON – Former Vice President Mike Pence's refusal to single-handedly reject electoral votes on Jan. 6, 2021, as former President Donald Trump pressured him to do, was the subject of the Thursday House hearing investigating the Capitol attack.
What happened at today's hearing:
- Pence: electoral count rejection 'illegal': Marc Short, chief of staff to former Vice President Mike Pence, says Pence told former President Donald Trump "many times" that any plan to have Pence reject electoral votes was illegal.
- Ex-federal judge: Trump's order would have been 'tantamount to revolution': Retired federal Judge J. Michael told the Jan. 6 Committee that had Pence obeyed orders from Trump on Jan. 6, declaring Trump the presidential election winner, it would have "plunged America" into what he says would've been "tantamount to a revolution within a constitutional crisis."
- The vice president 'cannot possibly' choose the president: Greg Jacob, counsel to Pence, said that while the Electoral Count Act includes "ambiguous" text, "common sense and structure would tell you" that it "cannot possibly be" that a vice president would have the authority to choose the U.S. president under the Constitution.
- Hannity 'very worried: 'Fox News' Sean Hannity told White House chief of staff Mark Meadows in text messages of his concerns around Jan. 6. On Dec. 31, he wrote, "I do NOT see January 6 happening the way he is being told." And on Jan. 5, he texted that he was "very worried about the next 48 hours."
- An intense effort to lean on Pence: Rep. Pete Aguilar said the Jan. 6 committee found that by Jan. 4, Trump had "engaged in a quote multi-week campaign to pressure the Vice President to decide the outcome of the election." It involved private conversations, a meeting with Congress and tweets from the president.
- Trump lawyer John Eastman's strategy: Eastman "acknowledged" that his proposals would violate provisions of the Electoral Count Act, Pence's former legal counsel Greg Jacob said, adding that Eastman thought this was OK because he viewed the act as unconstitutional.
- 'Jump-ball situation': Jacob, in describing the standoff that could arise under Eastman's plans for rejecting electors - assuming courts did not get involved - said result could been an "unprecedented constitutional jump-ball situation" that "might well then have to be decided in the streets."
- Pence refused to be seen fleeing Capitol: After being taken to a secure location, Secret Service asked Pence to get in a car. The vice president refused. Jacob said Pence did not want to take any chance that "the world would see the vice president of the United States fleeing the United States Capitol. He was determined that we would complete the work" of certifying the election.
- The next hearing is Tuesday: The Jan. 6 committee reconvenes on Tuesday at 1 p.m. ET. Another public hearing is scheduled for Thursday, June 23, at 1 p.m.
After the attack, White House lawyer Eric Herschmann advised Trump lawyer John Eastman to “get a great f— criminal defense lawyer” because “you’re going to need it,” Eastman appealed to the president for a pardon.
“I’ve decided that I should be on the pardon list, if that is still in the works,” Eastman wrote in an email the committee shared. Trump did not pardon Eastman.
- Erin MansfieldIn deposition to the Jan. 6 Committee, Eastman “plead the fifth 100 times.”
Ater Trump did not fulfill Eastman’s request of being on the presidential pardon list, Eastman “plead the fifth 100 times,” while being deposed by the Jan. 6 Committee.
In response to numerous questions about Eastman’s actions surrounding his plan to have Pence overturn the election, he constantly replied “fifth.”
Questions included whether or not he advised Trump that Pence could reject electors, if it was true seven states sent dual slates of electors, and if he could discuss his direct conversations with Trump to the committee. All of which Eastman replied “fifth.”
- Kenneth TranDOJ renews call for Jan. 6 committee transcripts
The Justice Department has renewed its request for witness transcripts amassed by the special House committee investigating the Capitol attack, saying that the information is “not just potentially relevant to our overall criminal investigations but are likely relevant to specific prosecutions that have already commenced.”
The request, made public in Thursday court filings related to the government’s prosecution of members of the Proud Boys extremist group who stormed the Capitol, echoed an earlier call for witness testimony that has been so far rebuffed by the panel.
“As you are aware, grand jury investigations are not public and thus the Special Committee does not and will not know the identity of all the witnesses who have information relevant to the Department’s ongoing criminal investigations,” the June 15 Justice letter stated.
The letter was signed by Matthew Graves, the U.S. attorney in Washington, D.C., overseeing the sprawling Jan. 6 criminal inquiry, along with the chiefs of Justice’s National Security and Criminal divisions.
“Moreover, it is critical that the Department be able to evaluate the credibility of witnesses who have provided statements to multiple government entities in assessing the strength of any criminal prosecution and to ensure that all relevant evidence is considered during the criminal investigation.
“The Select Committee’s failure to grant the Department access to these transcripts complicates the Department’s ability to investigate and prosecute those who engaged in criminal conduct in relation to the January 6 attack on the Capitol,” the Justice letter stated.
- Kevin JohnsonLuttig: Trump a ‘clear and present danger’ to democracy
Retired judge Michael Luttig warned the House committee Thursday former President Donald Trump continues to threaten American democracy not because of the Jan. 6 Capitol attack, but because he and his allies plan to challenge the 2024 results if they lost that election.
Luttig said Trump and his allies are executing their blueprint for 2024 in plain sight of the American people.
“Today, almost two years after that fateful day in January 2021, still Donald Trump and his allies and supporters are a clear and present danger to American democracy,” Luttig said. “I don’t speak those words lightly. I would have never spoken those words ever in my life, except that that’s what the former president and his allies are telling us.”
- Bart JansenPence started his day in prayer, ended with Bible verse
Jacob said his Christian faith sustained him through the day, and as he waited in a secure location amidst the violence, he read through Daniel 6, about a man of God who refuses orders from a Pagan king he cannot follow and does his duties consistent with his oath to God, saying he “felt that’s what had played out that day.”
Short also texted Pence the Bible verse 2 Timothy 4:7 at 3:50 a.m. after the two departed the Capitol: “I fought the good fight, I’ve finished the race, I’ve kept the faith.”
- Katherine SwartzShort: House GOP Leader McCarthy worried Trump didn’t take riot seriously
After Vice President Mike Pence evacuated the Senate as a mob ransacked the Capitol, his chief of staff, Marc Short, contacted senior government officials such as House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy
“He indicated that he had had some conversation” with Trump or someone else at the White House, Short said of McCarthy. “He’d expressed frustration at not taking the circumstances as seriously as they should at that moment.”
While in seclusion, Pence called Acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller about his safety and to address the situation, according to a committee member, Rep. Pete Aguilar, D-Calif. Aguilar asked a Pence staffer whether Trump ever called to ask about Pence’s safety.
“He did not,” said Greg Jacob, Pence’s counsel. Pence and his wife reacted to the lack of contact “with frustration,” Jacob said.
- Bart JansenMembers of Congress, former Pence staffer among those watching in hearing room
Democratic Reps. Steve Cohen of Tennessee, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, Pramila Jayapal of Washington, and Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas are among the members of Congress watching the hearing in the Cannon Caucus room today.
U.S. Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn, D.C. Metropolitan Police Officer Daniel Hodges, U.S. Capitol Police Sgt. Aquilino Gonell, and D.C. Metropolitan Police Officer Michael Fanone also watched from the row of seats behind the witnesses. Sandra Garza, the longtime partner of Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick – who suffered two strokes and died after Jan. 6 – also sat with the officers.
Pence’s former Homeland Security Advisor Olivia Troye sat besides Gonnell. House Chaplain Margaret Kibben watched from the back of the room, seated beside the lawmakers in attendance.
– Dylan WellsAide: Pence didn't want people seeing him 'fleeing' from the Capitol
Vice President Pence had a simple reason for refusingto leave the U.S. Capitol after rioters broke into the building looking for him.
Pence "did not want to take any chance that the world would see the vice president of the United States fleeing the United States Capitol," attorney Greg Jacob said.
Instead, Pence waited out the insurrection at a secure location within the U.S. Capitol.
- David JacksonTrump didn’t call Pence to check on his safety
While in a secure location within the Capitol complex, Pence made several different calls to others to check on their safety. But Rep. Pete Aguilar questioned Greg Jacob if Trump called Pence to make sure he was safe.
“He did not,” replied Jacob.
Jacob said Pence and Second Lady Karen Pence were frustrated they never received a call.
- Kenneth TranMob was 40 feet away from Pence’s hiding spot
As Rep. Pete Aguilar, D-Calif., told a witness that Vice President Pence was only 40 feet away from the mob while in hiding, Pence’s former homeland security advisor, Olivia Troye, sat in the background and shook her head.
“Mr. Jacob, you were there,” Aguilar said to witness Greg Jacob, Pence’s general counsel. “Does it surprise you to see how close the mob was to the evacuation route that you took? Forty feet is the distance from me to you roughly.”
“I could hear the din of the rioters in the building while we moved, but I don’t think I was aware that they were as close as that,” Jacob replied.
- Erin Mansfield, Dylan WellsProud Boys witness says the group would have killed Pence and Pelosi
A recent court filing from the Department of Justice states that a confidential informant from the Proud Boys told the FBI that “the Proud Boys would have killed Mike Pence if given a chance.”
“Anyone they got their hands on they would have killed, including Nancy Pelosi,” the Proud Boys member told the FBI.
- Katherine SwartzTrump called Pence ‘wimp’ on Jan. 6
White House officials said during a call the morning of Jan. 6, 2021, former President Donald Trump called Vice President Mike Pence a "wimp" and accused him of lacking the courage to make the right decision.
Trump placed the call surrounded by family and aides in the Oval Office. “At some point it started off at a calmer tone and then became heated,” said Eric Herschmann, a White House lawyer.
“The conversation was pretty heated,” said Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter and senior adviser. “It was a different tone than I’d heard him take with the vice president before.”
Retired Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg, who served as Pence’s national security adviser, said Trump questioned Pence’s courage, “like you’re not tough enough to make the call.”
Nicholas Luna, who served as Trump’s personal assistant, said he remembered the word “wimp.”
“I don’t remember if he said you are a wimp, you’ll be a wimp,” Luna said. “Wimp is the word I remember.”
Pence had gathered with aides at his residence for a prayer before he presided over counting Electoral College votes. Pence left the room for the call, but returned grim.
“I would say he was steely, determined, grim,” said Greg Jacob, Pence’s counsel.
- Bart JansenTrump’s tweet disparaging Pence was “like pouring gasoline on the fire.”
Sarah Matthews, former Deputy White House Press Secretary, told the Jan. 6 Committee that Trump’s tweet saying Pence “didn’t have the courage” to reject the electors was “like pouring gasoline on the fire.”
“It was clear that it was escalating and escalating quickly,” said Matthews, describing the riot outside the Capitol as it started to ramp up. “So then went that tweet, that Mike Pence tweet, was sent out. I remember us saying that was the last thing that needed to be tweeted at the moment.”
“The situation was already bad. And so it felt like he was pouring gasoline on the fire by tweeting that,” said Matthews. One minute after that tweet, rioters opened the East Rotunda door and breached the Capitol crypt.
- Kenneth TranTrump knew rioters breached Capitol before tweeting about Pence
Two staff members testified to the committee that Chief of Staff Marc Meadows went to the dining room off the Oval Office to tell Trump about violence on the Capitol.
Trump then tweeted at 2:24 p.m. – once the Capitol had already been breached – that “Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done” in his refusal to send electoral votes back to states to recertify.
- Katherine SwartzJayapal: 'Thanks to Mike Pence ... and Congress'
“Donald Trump was absolutely engaged in a conspiracy to overturn an election and it failed thanks to Mike Pence and thanks to Congress,” Washington Democrat Rep. Pramila Jayapal told USA TODAY of her top takeaway from today’s hearing thus far.
Jayapal was one of the members trapped in the gallery on Jan. 6 and is watching the hearing today in the Cannon Caucus room.
“I’m just shaking my head that we have somebody in office who was saying to the Vice President, well, I'm not going to be your friend if you don't do something that's completely unconstitutional,” Jayapal said.
- Dylan WellsPence aides had angry phone call over White House claims
Committee members heard evidence of how Pence and his aides objected when the White House put a false statement that the vice president agreed with Trump that he had the authority to throw out electoral votes.
Vice presidential chief of staff Marc Short called Trump communications aide Jason Miller to say Pence did not agree with Trump at all.
Both men told the committee that the phone call was tense.
Short reportedly told Miller that the call broke protocol and questioned "the process for putting out a statement for a meeting when only two people were in the room."
Miller told Short that the statement came out the way Trump wanted it to.
- David JacksonPence and aides prayed ahead of “challenging” day
Vice President Mike Pence and his aides started the morning of Jan. 6, 2021 with a prayer because it was going to be an important day.
“We would’ve just asked for guidance and wisdom, knowing that the day was going to be a challenging one,” Pence’s chief of staff, Marc Short, told the Jan. 6 committee.
Short said the prayer also included Greg Jacob, Pence’s general counsel, and Chris Hodgson, Pence’s legislative affairs director.
- Erin MansfieldLee: ‘I will never forget that shot.’
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, told reporters that the events of Jan. 6 replay in her mind when she attends the House committee hearings.
“I see members in various states of shock and sheer fear. And I remember that shot. I will never forget that shot,” Lee said.
The committee has focused on the actions of former Vice President Mike Pence, who despite pressure from Trump and his allies, refused to reject a slate of electors while presiding over Electoral College votes. Lee called Pence’s decision “stoic.”
"I think he realized that he was now in the eye of a historic storm. He was either going to be honorable, or he was going to be dishonorable,” said Lee, who was Speaker Pro Tem in the after the insurrection. “I think he prides his faith and his integrity. I hope that’s what came out on (Jan. 6)."
- Chelsey CoxPence’s team “shocked and disappointed” by Trump claim he and veep were in agreement
Pence and Trump had a disagreement about Pence’s authority to reject election results in a private Oval Office meeting. When the New York Times reported on the meeting, Trump’s office released a statement denying the article, claiming that he and Pence “are in total agreement that the Vice President has the power to act.”
This statement was “categorically untrue,” Jacob said, as Pence and his office had consistently rejected the idea he had authority to reject election results.
Jacob said Pence’s office had no prior knowledge of the statement and were “shocked and disappointed” by it.
- Katherine SwartzPence’s Chief of Staff was concerned for Pence’s safety in the days before Jan. 6
As the rift between Trump and Pence grew due to their disagreements about Pence’s ability to overturn the election, Pence’s chief of staff, Marc Short, became concerned for Pence’s safety.
Short was worried enough to consult the Secret Service.
“The concern was for the Vice President’s security, and so I wanted to make sure the head of the Vice President’s secret service was aware that likely, as these disagreements became more public, that the President would lash out in some way," he said in a videotaped deposition the committee played Thursday.
- Kenneth TranPence aide warned election may be “decided in the streets”
Greg Jacob, lawyer to Vice President Mike Pence, said he told Trump lawyer John Eastman that following his plan of action may have created an unwinnable standoff between Trump and Pence.
Jacob said if the issue went to the Supreme Court but the Supreme Court decided not to take it up, it would have left the country in a state of limbo, something he called a “constitutional jump ball.”
“That situation may well have to be decided in the streets,” Jacob said he told Eastman. “Because if we can’t work it out politically, we’ve already seen how charged up people are about this election, and so it would be a disastrous situation to be in.”
- Erin MansfieldJohn Eastman denies discussing election with Ginni Thomas
Lawyer John Eastman said in a social media post Thursday he never discussed the 2020 election with Ginni Thomas or her husband, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, but that she had asked for an update about election litigation.
His statement came after a report in the Washington Post that Eastman exchanged emails with Ginni Thomas. But Eastman said the report was based on selective leaks from the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol attack and created a “false impression.”
“We have never engaged in such discussions, would not engage in such discussions, and did not do so in December 2020 or anytime else,” Eastman said in his post on Substack. “As you can see for yourselves, she invited me to give an update about election litigation to a group she met with periodically.”
- Bart JansenEastman flipped whether Pence should reject electors on the eve of Jan. 6
On the eve of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, John Eastman flipped on whether Pence should carry out his debunked legal theory that the vice president could reject electoral votes submitted by states.
Jacob said Eastman, in a Jan. 4 meeting, recommended that Pence not execute the strategy, only to suddenly change his position one day later.
“I'm here to request that you reject the electors in the disputed states,” Eastman said on Jan. 5, according to Jacob’s account.
The flip came as Trump ramped up his pressure campaign against Pence to reject the election results. In a tweet that same day, Trump falsely said that Pence has the theory to “reject fraudulently chosen electors.”
- Joey GarrisonCommittee: Trump 'dialed up' pressure on Pence as Jan. 6 approached
As part of its multi-media presentation, the committee played a series of videos demonstrating how Trump applied the screws to Vice President Pence as the counting of electoral votes approached.
At a politically rally on Jan. 4, 2021, Trump told screaming supporters he hoped Pence "comes through for us" and throws out electoral votes – a video the committee played twice.
While calling Pence "a great guy," Trump pointedly added that: "Of course, if he doesn't come through, I won't like him as much."
Around the same time, aides like Rudy Giuliani and John Eastman made public statement in which they urged Pence to act, even though they knew the vice president lacked the legal authority over the casting of electoral votes.
Two days after Trump's rally, Pence again made clear he would not carry out the president's demands – and the attack on the U.S. Capitol took place.
Trump "dialed up the pressure as Jan. 6. approached," said Rep. Pete Aguilar, D-Calif., a committee member.
- David JacksonPence “never budged” in position that he could not overturn the election
When Pence was first introduced to Eastman’s theory that he could reject electors, his “first instinct was that there was no way any one person” could have that power, according to Pence’s former legal counsel, Greg Jacob.
Marc Short, former Chief of Staff to Pence, told the Jan. 6 committee that Pence was “very consistent” in making clear he could not overturn the election to Trump.
Asked if Pence ever wavered in his position, Jacob said, “The Vice President never budged from the position I had described as his first instinct, which was that it just made no sense from everything that he knew and had studied about our Constitution, that one kind of person would have that kind of authority.”
- Kenneth TranCongressman, witness point to Al Gore’s acceptance of his loss in 2000
Stakeholders pointed to how then-Vice President Al Gore presided over the electoral count in the 2000 presidential election he lost to George W. Bush without raising any questions or objections about the process.
“He never suggested that he could simply declare himself the winner of the 2000 election when he presided over the counting of the electoral votes,” said Rep. Pete Aguilar, D-Calif.
Greg Jacob, Pence’s former counsel, said he explained to Trump lawyer John Eastman: “Back in 2000 you weren’t jumping up and saying that Al Gore had the authority to do this. You would not want Kamala Harris to be able to have that kind of authority in 2024, when I hope Republicans win the election.”
- Erin MansfieldPaul Ryan: Pence doesn’t have 'any greater authority' over results
Former Pence Chief of Staff Marc Short testified that former House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., spoke to both himself and Pence about the joint committee, and all were in agreement that the vice president has no greater authority over election results.
Short also told the committee that Pence consulted with former GOP Vice President Dan Quayle, who agreed with Pence that the role in the joint session is purely ceremonial, not authoritative.
- Katherine SwartzLuttig: Eastman’s scheme ‘constitutional mischief’
Retired federal appeals judge Michael Luttig told the panel former President Donald Trump’s advisers got “wrapped around the axle” by lawyer John Eastman’s historical evidence about the vice president’s role in counting Electoral College votes.
But Greg Jacob, Pence’s counsel, said no vice president in 230 years of the country’s history acted as Eastman proposed. Luttig said he would have tried to prevent Thomas Jefferson, John Adams or Richard Nixon from following Eastman’s plan.
“I would have laid my body across the road before I would have let the vice president overturn the 2020 election on the basis of that historical precedent,” Luttig said. “This is constitutional mischief.”
- Bart JansenEastman didn’t believe his own debunked legal theory, committee says
John Eastman, Trump’s attorney who pushed the false notion that Pence could decide the winner of the 2020 election, didn’t believe the theory would hold up in the Supreme Court, according to testimony from Pence legal counsel Greg Jacob.
Eastman acknowledged to Jacob before Jan. 6 that the nation’s high country would likely reject the theory by a 9-0 vote, Jacob recalled.
“Dr. Eastman never really believed his own theory,” said Rep. Pete Aguilar, D-Calif, one of the House committee members.
- Joey GarrisonSean Hannity 'very worried' in the hours before insurrection
The committee is presenting reams of evidence that people very close to Trump were very dubious about the idea that Pence could simply award the election to him – and worried about the ramifications.
Fox News host Sean Hannity, for example, sent White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows a series of texts reflecting concerns that the White House legal team might resign over Trump's pressure on Pence.
"I'm very worried about the next 48 hours," Hannity texted on Jan. 5, 2021, a day before the insurrection.
- David JacksonGiuliani privately admitted Pence couldn’t overturn election before speaking at Jan 6 rally
In a deposition, former Trump impeachment lawyer Eric Herschmann described a call between him and Rudy Giuliani on the morning of Jan. 6.
“We had an intellectual discussion about Eastman’s - I don’t know if it’s Eastman’s theory per se but the VP’s role and he was asking me my view, analysis, and other practical implications of it.” said Herschmann. “And when we finished, he said like I believe you’re probably right.”
“I think he thought, were it done, it was something he’d have to consider if he was sitting on the bench. But he’d probably come down on that and you know, couldn’t interpret it or sustain the argument long term.”
Hours later, Giuliani spoke at the ellipse to Jan. 6 protestors, telling them “Every single thing that has been outlined, as the plan for today, is perfectly legal.”
- Kenneth TranHerschmann: “You’re going to cause riots in the streets”
Trump’s counsel John Eastman told White House counsel Eric Herschmann he saw ambiguities within the 12th Amendment that allowed Pence to stop the certification of votes, thus deciding who would be the next president.
“Are you out of your f’ing mind?” Herschmann said to Eastman, saying voters wouldn’t tolerate this and it would cause riots in the streets.
In response, Eastman told Herschmann that there’s been a history of violence in the country to protect democracy and the republic, so it was necessary for Pence to not certify election results.
- Katherine SwartzAdvisors said Pence did not have power Trump claimed
Advisors to President Donald Trump were aware that Vice President Pence did not have the power to overturn the results of the 2020 election, witnesses told the Jan. 6 committee.
Marc Short, Pence’s chief of staff, said White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows told him “a couple times” before Jan. 6, 2021 that Pence didn’t have the power. Short added, “Mark had told so many people so many different things that it was not necessarily something that I would accept as, ‘OK, that’s resolved.’”
Jason Miller, an aide to Trump, said White House Counsel Pat Cipillone thought the plan to have Pence affect the election “was nutty and at one point had confronted (Trump lawyer John) Eastman basically with the same.”
- Erin Mansfield‘No idea more un-American’: Pence lawyers says historic precedence, text refuted Trump scheme to reject results
Greg Jacob, former legal counsel for Pence, said he and other attorneys reviewed the text of the Constitution,the intent of founding fathers and historic precedent, determining the vice president has no authority to choose the next president.
“There is almost no idea more un-American than the notion that any one person would choose the American President,” Jacob said.
Jacob said no vice president in 230 years ever claimed to have such a power that the vice president can reject the electoral votes submitted by states.
Jacob recounted what he told Jon Eastman, the attorney pushing the theory to Trump: “If you were right, don't you think Al Gore might have liked to have known in 2000 that he had authority to just declare himself president of the United States?”-
- Joey GarrisonLuttig: “The language of the 12th amendment is that simple”
After long testimony, Senior Investigative Counsel John Wood asked retired Federal Judge Michael Luttig if the 12th amendment was as complicated as John Eastman, made it out to be.
“Judge Luttig, at the risk of oversimplifying for the non-lawyers who are watching,” said Wood. “Is it fair to say that the 12th amendment basically says two things happen: the vice president opens the certificates and the electoral votes are counted. Is it that straightforward?”
“The language of the 12th amendment is that simple,” said Luttig.
- Kenneth TranLuttig: Vice President Pence had no power to strike down electoral votes.
Retired federal judge Michael Luttig is citing numerous legal rulings to knock down the pro-Trump claim that Vice President Mike Pence had any authority whatsoever to throw out electoral votes.
"There was no historical precedent," Luttig said.
Basically, the vice president has no power at all when it comes to congressional counting of electoral votes, Luttig said, including recognition of seven slates of alternative electors put up by the Trump people.
"There was no basis in the Constitution or the laws of the United States AT ALL for the theory espoused by Mr. (John) Eastman," Luttig said at one point. "At all. None."
Luttig is not just any retired federal judge, by the way – he was once a rising conservative star who came very close to winding up on the Supreme Court.
President George W. Bush had Luttig on his short list, though he ultimately picked John Roberts and Samuel Alito for high court vacancies.
- David JacksonTrump lawyers wanted Pence to not count Arizona’s electoral votes
A day before the Electoral College met to cast their votes on Dec. 14, 2020, Trump attorney Kenneth Chesebro sent a memo to Rudy Giuliani that Pence is charged with “making judgements about what to do if there are conflicting votes.”
Chesebro wanted Pence to not count Arizona's votes (which JBiden won) in the joint session of Congress, “because there are two slates of votes.”
A group of Trump supporters in Arizona and other states had proclaimed themselves “the true electors for the state,” thus creating a group of official electors chosen by the state, and a group of “fake electors,” Cheney said in the hearing.
- Katherine SwartzPence ‘first instinct’ said he did not have power over 2020 election
A lawyer for Vice President Mike Pence said Pence had an immediate response to the idea that he could sway the 2020 election — that there is no way that the framers of the Constitution intended for him to have that power.
Greg Jacob, Pence’s general counsel, recounted Pence’s reaction and described the conversation that came before Jacob put together a legal memo for Pence that explained the obscure line in the Constitution describing the vice president’s role as well as the Electoral Count Act that laid out the process of counting votes.
“The vice president’s first instinct when he heard this theory was that there was no way that our framers – who abhorred concentrated power, who had broken away from the tyranny of George the third – would ever have put one person – particularly not a person who had a direct interest in the outcome because they were on the ticket for the election – in a role to have decisive impact in the outcome of the election,” Jacob said.
- Erin MansfieldPence started asking about his authority to count electors in early December
Greg Jacob, Pence’s former counsel in the vice president’s office, said he was first asked by Pence about the vice president’s role in the process to count electoral votes in early December.
Jacob recalled that Pence brought up former Vice President Al Gore using his gavel to strike down some Democratic lawmakers who objected to results in the 2000 election.
Jacob said that both he and Pence concluded that the vice president – in accordance with the Electoral Count Act of 1887 and the U.S. Constitution – lacks any role other than counting the votes certified by the Electoral College. He said the vice president does not have the authority to decide the presidency.
“There is no justifiable basis to conclude that the vice president has that kind of authority,” Jacob said.
- Joey GarrisonPence lawyer: Eastman knew election scheme violated Electoral Count Act
Former Vice President Mike Pence’s counsel, Greg Jacob, told the committee that John Eastman admitted his scheme to have Pence single-handedly overturn the election violated the Electoral Count Act.
The 1887 statute sets the rules for how Congress counts votes in presidential elections. Jacob told the committee during his deposition Eastman conceded his argument was contrary to historical practice, would likely be rejected unanimously by the Supreme Court and violated the Electoral Count Act in four ways.
Former President Donald Trump held an Oval Office meeting Jan. 4 to pressure Pence, but the vice president refused to buckle. Committee investigators asked if Eastman ever acknowledged in front of Trump that his proposal would violate the law.
“I believe he did on the Fourth,” Jacob said in a videotaped deposition played Thursday.
- Bart JansenRep. Pete Aguilar: Trump knew there was violence at the Capitol when he tweeted at Pence
Democratic Rep. Pete Aguilar from California said former President Donald Trump knew the Capitol was breached when he tweeted at former Vice President Mike Pence to overturn the 2020 election.
“You’ll also hear President Trump knew there was a violent mob at the Capitol when he tweeted at 2:24 p.m. that the Vice President did not have the quote, courage to do what needed to be done.” Trump tweeted then that Pence lacked the courage to “do what should have been done and protect our country and constitution.”
“Let me be clear," said Aguilar. "Vice President Pence did the right thing that day. He stayed true to his oath to protect and defend the constitution.”
- Kenneth TranRep. Pete Aguilar: Trump “latched on to a dangerous theory and would not let go”
In his opening statement of the hearing, Rep. Pete Aguilar, D-Calif., said that January 6th was not an isolated incident, that for weeks leading up to the attack Trump committed “illegal scheme and deception.”
Aguilar said the committee’s evidence proves that Trump knew he lost the election and then attempted to circumvent “the country’s most fundamental civic tradition: the peaceful transition of power.”
“The president latched on to a dangerous theory and would not let go because he was convinced it would keep him in office,” Aguilar said.
- Katherine SwartzAide says Pence told Trump “many times” he could not reject electoral votes
Vice President Mike Pence’s Chief of Staff told the committee that Pence had communicated directly to Trump that he did not have the legal or constitutional authority to reject electoral votes and thereby hand Trump the presidency.
Marc Short said in a videotaped interview with the committee that Pence had not only written a letter to Trump saying he had no such legal authority, but communicated the same thing to Trump “many times” and “very consistently.”
- Erin MansfieldPro-Trump rioters: Hang Mike Pence!
The committee played chilling videos of Jan. 6 rioters threatening Mike Pence when they learned he had refused to throw out electoral votes – a demand made by their patron, Donald Trump.
"I'm hearing reports that Pence caved!" one rioter said during a profane rant.
Another tape showed demonstrators chanting a harrowing theme: "Hang Mike Pence! Hang Mike Pence!"
– David JacksonCommittee chair calls Pence rejection of Trump scheme ‘courageous’
Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., chairman of the Jan. 6 House Committee, kicked off the third hearing Thursday, saying testimony will reveal a pressure campaign waged by former President Donald Trump to reject the electoral votes confirming Joe Biden’s election victory.
“Donald Trump wanted Mike Pence to do something no other vice president has ever done. The former president wanted Pence to reject the votes and either declare Trump the winner or send the votes back to the states to be counted again.
“Mike Pence said no. He resisted the pressure. He knew it was wrong. We are fortunate for Mr. Pence’s courage.”
Thompson added: “When Mike Pence made it clear that he wouldn't give into Donald Trump's scheme, Donald Trump turned the mob on him.”
- Joey GarrisonThompson: Committee wants to question Ginni Thomas
The chairman, Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., told reporters Thursday the committee wants to question Ginni Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, over her contacts with a lawyer who developed a plan to overturn the 2020 election.
The committee had earlier discussed pursuing Ginni Thomas because of text exchanges with former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows about fighting results of the 2020 election.
Ginni Thomas:House Jan. 6 panel discusses seeking testimony from Ginni Thomas about texts with Mark Meadows, but makes no decision
But the committee recently obtained emails between Ginni Thomas and John Eastman, a lawyer for former President Donald Trump who developed the plan for Vice President Mike Pence to single-handedly tip the election in favor of Trump, according to The Washington Post.
“We think it’s time that we, at some point, invite her to come talk to the committee,” Thompson told reporters, according to Axios reporter Andrew Solender.
- Bart JansenTrump raised money for ‘election defense’ and gave millions to his allies
A fundraising committee affiliated with former President Donald Trump raised millions of dollars for an “Official Election Defense Fund,” but the Jan. 6 committee said in its hearing Monday that it found no evidence that fund existed.
Most of the money went to a leadership fund called Save America that gave millions to Trump allies. For example, nonprofits affiliated with advisor Kellyanne Conway and chief of staff Mark Meadows received $1 million each. Campaigns for candidates running to unseat Trump foes in Congress received $5,000 each.
E. Danya Perry, who served as an assistant U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of New York from 2002 to 2013, said the case has the building blocks of a “pretty clear cut” case of wire fraud, a subject that is “bread and butter for federal prosecutors.”
– Erin Mansfield
Where did Trump's 'Election Defense Fund' money go?:Trump raised millions to fight election fraud before Jan. 6. Here's how that money was spent.'1776 Returns' detailed plans to occupy buildings near Capitol
A document allegedly given to Proud Boys Chairman Henry "Enrique" Tarrio prior to the Jan. 6 insurrection lays out detailed plans to occupy more than half a dozen buildings surrounding the U.S. Capitol and describes tactics to be used by occupiers as they "Storm the Winter Palace."
The full document titled "1776 Returns," attached as an exhibit in a court filing Wednesday by Tarrio's co-defendant Zachary Rehl, was described by one former federal prosecutor as "an absolutely devastating piece of evidence."
Patrick Cotter, a former federal prosecutor in Chicago who has practiced criminal law for 40 years, said the "1776 Returns" document is a bombshell for prosecutors, assuming it can be verified. "The authors are clearly planning multiple, multiple felonies; they're saying how they're going to do it, and it's all in service, apparently, to a broader crime, which is the sedition." he said.
Read more on the document here.
– Will CarlessPence in Cincinnati, Ohio, as Jan. 6 hearing focuses on him
Former Vice President Mike Pence will travel to Cincinnati on Thursday alongside Gov. Mike DeWine for a roundtable with members of Ohio's natural gas and oil industry.
On the same day, the House Jan. 6 committee is expected to examine how former President Donald Trump pressured Pence to overturn the 2020 election.
The roundtable won't be open to the public. It will be hosted by the Ohio Oil and Gas Energy Education Program. Pence will also be in town to raise money for Rep. Steve Chabot's reelection campaign at the home of Nancy and David Aichholz, according to an invitation sent out by the GOP.
– Scott Wartman, Cincinnati Enquirer
Pence in Ohio: Mike Pence in Cincinnati today as Jan. 6 committee looks at how Trump pressured himWhat time is the Jan. 6 hearing on Thursday?
The hearing is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. ET.How to watch the Jan. 6 hearing
USA TODAY will livestream the hearings here on USATODAY.com. The hearings have also been televised on C-Span and cable news networks.Trump lawyer: Pence was calm when told about lack of election fraud
Alex Cannon, a Trump campaign lawyer, described a stoic Vice President Mike Pence compared to other Trump aides in response to the lack of election fraud.
Cannon found no evidence of enough voter fraud to change the election. At one point during a November 2020 meeting at the White House, Pence asked Cannon for an update.
“I don’t remember his exact words, but he asked me if we were finding anything, and I said that I was not personally finding anything sufficient to alter the results of the election,” Cannon said. “He thanked me. That was our interaction.”
Who has the Jan. 6 committee subpoenaed?:Who has been subpoenaed so far by the Jan. 6 committee?One Trump lawyer to another: Get a great criminal defense lawyer
In a promotional tweet Tuesday for the hearing, the committee released video of Eric Hershmann, one of Trump’s lawyers, who described warning Eastman the day after the riot he should find a "great" defense lawyer.
Eastman had contacted Hershmann to chat about Georgia election results because he couldn’t reach other Trump aides. Hershmann questioned Eastman's sanity and told him the only phrase he wanted to hear from Eastman from then on was "orderly transition" to the Biden administration.
"Eventually he said, ‘Orderly transition,'" Hershmann said. "I said, ‘Good, John. Now I’m going to give you the best free legal advice you’re ever getting in your life. Get a great f-ing criminal defense lawyer. You’re going to need it.’ Then I hung up on him.”
How Trump's PAC spent money:Trump raised millions to fight election fraud before Jan. 6. Here's how that money was spent.Who is testifying? Former Pence counsel Greg Jacob
Greg Jacob, Pence's counsel who researched the vice president's power to reject electors when Congress counts presidential votes, told Eastman in an email Jan. 6, 2021, at 2:14 p.m. that his advice was "essentially entirely made up," according to court records.
In an Oval Office meeting with Trump on Jan. 4, Pence stressed his “immediate instinct that there is no way that one person could be entrusted by the Framers to exercise that authority,” according to Jacob.
As the mob ransacked the Capitol two days later and Pence evacuated the Senate chamber, Jacob emailed Eastman to say "thanks to your bull----, we are now under siege," according to court records.
Bill Barr and Donald Trump:Bill Barr's complicated relationship with Donald Trump: From vital advocate to damning witnessWho is Michael Luttig? Retired judge to testify
Eastman clerked for Michael Luttig, a retired judge for the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals who was rumored as a potential Supreme Court nominee during President George W. Bush's administration.
The same day Trump pressured Pence and Jacob in the Oval Office, Pence’s personal lawyer, Richard Cullen, called Luttig to ask about Eastman. Luttig tweeted his disagreement with Eastman’s argument the morning of Jan. 5.
“The only responsibility and power of the Vice President under the Constitution is to faithfully count the electoral college votes as they have been cast,” Luttig said. "The Constitution does not empower the Vice President to alter in any way the votes that have been cast, either by rejecting certain of them or otherwise."
Jan. 6 committee hearing schedule:Here's what to expect at upcoming Jan. 6 hearingsPence's former chief of staff Marc Short says he sided with Constitution over Trump
Marc Short, Pence's chief of staff, told the committee the vice president was proud of what was accomplished during the four years of the Trump administration, but sided with the Constitution in the election showdown.
"I think he was proud to have stood beside the president for all that has been done," Short said in a videotaped deposition. "But I think he ultimately knew that his fidelity to the Constitution was his first and foremost oath."