“The coup attempt is ongoing”: Ex-Trump lawyer John Eastman still trying to overturn 2020 election

Eastman pushed top Wisconsin Republican Robin Vos to "nullify" results and “reclaim" electors awarded to Biden

By Igor Derysh

Published April 12, 2022 9:26AM (EDT)

John Eastman, the University of Colorado Boulders visiting scholar of conservative thought and policy, speaks about his plans to sue the university at a news conference outside of CU Boulder on Thursday, April 29, 2021. CU relieved Eastman of his public duties after he spoke at President Donald Trump's rally preceding the Capitol insurrection on Jan. 6. (Andy Cross/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
John Eastman, the University of Colorado Boulders visiting scholar of conservative thought and policy, speaks about his plans to sue the university at a news conference outside of CU Boulder on Thursday, April 29, 2021. CU relieved Eastman of his public duties after he spoke at President Donald Trump's rally preceding the Capitol insurrection on Jan. 6. (Andy Cross/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

Former Trump lawyer John Eastman is still trying to overturn the results of the 2020 election amid a legal battle with the House Jan. 6 committee over his role in the former president's failed effort to reverse his loss.

Eastman played a key role as a top adviser in Trump's scheme to block the certification of President Joe Biden's win and wrote a plan outlining how then-Vice President Mike Pence could supposedly reject legitimate electors from states won by Biden. Eastman's efforts have come under the scrutiny of the Jan. 6 committee, which subpoenaed his records related to the scheme. Eastman fought the subpoena before a judge last month ordered him to turn over documents after finding that he and Trump "more likely than not" committed federal crimes when they "corruptly attempted to obstruct" Congress.

But Eastman is not done trying to undo Trump's loss. He was one of several Trump allies who last month secured a two-hour private meeting with Wisconsin state Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, a Republican, to pressure him to "nullify" the 2020 election and "reclaim the electors awarded to Biden," which legal experts say is not possible, according to ABC News.

Eastman urged Vos to "decertify the election," according to the report. Jefferson Davis, a Wisconsin activist who also attended the meeting, told ABC that Eastman pushed Vos to start "reclaiming the electors" and move forward with "either a do over or having a new slate of electors seated that would declare someone else the winner."

Eastman did not comment on the meeting.

"By explicit request from Speaker Vos, that meeting was confidential, so I am not able to make any comment," he told ABC.

RELATED: Former Trump lawyer John Eastman says his coup plan would have worked if it wasn't for Mike Pence

Eastman previously worked with other Trump allies to push Wisconsin officials to decertify the state's election, writing an eight-page analysis last December claiming that if there was "acknowledged illegality" in an election then the result of the election could be nullified and the legislature could then choose new electors "as it sees fit," according to Rolling Stone.

After the March meeting, Vos reiterated that the election could not be decertified. He has nonetheless has played a key role in ginning up election-related conspiracy theories in Wisconsin. He has pushed claims of widespread election fraud and hired election conspiracist Michael Gableman to lead a taxpayer-funded investigation into the 2020 race. Gableman, who spoke at a pro-Trump "Stop the steal" rally before he was hired, last month presented a preliminary report echoing numerous debunked conspiracy theories and called on the legislature to decertify the results, even as Vos and legal experts explained there was no legal mechanism to do so. Gableman also called for the prosecution and possible imprisonment of election officials who refused to cooperate with his probe. A judge last month found Vos in contempt of court for refusing to release records from Gableman's investigation. Vos last week released 20,000 pages of previously-deleted emails showing extensive contact with election conspiracy theorists who were seeking ways to undo Trump's loss.

Eastman has also been active in other states. He joined a group of Colorado election deniers in February for an "emergency town hall meeting" at which participants baselessly accused Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold, a Democrat, of participating in an election fraud conspiracy," according to ABC News. Eastman bragged at the meeting about his role in election lawsuits in Texas, Pennsylvania, Georgia and Wisconsin, accusing those who oppose the effort of "pure evil."

Eastman has previously said he met with Trump allies at the Willard Hotel one day before the Capitol riot, where the Republican's supporters convened a "war room." He was among the speakers at Trump's "Save America" rally at the Ellipse on Jan. 6, shortly before the Capitol assault began.


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Trump has also pushed Wisconsin to decertify the 2020 election.

"Speaker Vos should do the right thing and correct the Crime of the Century — immediately!" the ex-president said in a statement last month. "It is my opinion that other states will be doing this, Wisconsin should lead the way!"

Trump has been in contact with "multiple" people working on the effort, according to ABC, and receives "regular updates" from MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, who has sunk millions of his own money into pushing widely-debunked election claims.

"The coup attempt is ongoing," tweeted journalist Christopher Ingraham. "I hope I'm wrong, but all signs point to 2024 being a massively destabilizing event that nobody is preparing for, aside from the coup plotters."

Radio host and Salon contributor Dean Obeidallah called on Attorney General Merrick Garland to act to prevent the hijacking of democracy, echoing the growing frustrations of Biden and members of the Jan. 6 committee over the Justice Department's reluctance to pursue charges against Trump and his inner circle.

"The COUP is not over," he wrote, "and it will NEVER be unless Trump and his co-conspirators are prosecuted."

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Igor Derysh

Igor Derysh is Salon's Deputy News and Politics Editor. His work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Boston Herald and Baltimore Sun.

Tips/Email: iderysh@salon.com Twitter: @IgorDerysh

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Related Topics ------------------------------------------

2020 Election Aggregate Capitol Riot Donald Trump John Eastman Michael Gableman Politics Robin Vos Wisconsin