In the third session, Donald Trump ‘knew’ it was illegal to push Mike Pence to overturn the election result

Each testified to how Trump enacted a plan, crafted by conservative lawyer John Eastman, to pressure Pence to reject Biden’s victory by delaying certification and sending votes back to states for recount.

The committee heard that while Eastman publicly insisted there was historical precedent for overturning the result, he told Trump privately, according to Jacob, that it might, in fact, violate the law.

“I’m going to give you the best free legal advice you’ve ever had in your life: find a great f—– criminal defense attorney.”

White House attorney Eric Herschmann told attorney John Eastman

Trump and Eastman nonetheless hoped their plan would give Republican-controlled legislatures time to install new pro-Trump voters who could then undo Biden’s Electoral College victory in key battleground states.

However, Luttig, a well-respected conservative jurist who served in the office of White House legal counsel under Ronald Reagan and advised Pence, told the committee that Eastman’s theory was illegal. He said if Pence had agreed to Trump’s demands, it “would have thrown America into what, in my view, would have been tantamount to a revolution in a constitutional crisis.”

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The campaign to pressure Pence was the latest throw of the dice for Trump, whose attempts to prove voter fraud in key battleground states had already been thrown out by multiple courts. It also took many forms, witnesses said, public speeches at rallies, angry private meetings and calls – in a phone call, the president called Pence a “wimp” – and his own tweets. of Trump.

In a tweet posted on January 5, for example, the day before the attack, Trump told his millions of followers that “the vice president has the power to reject fraudulently chosen voters.”

Jacob, however, rejected this and informed Pence that the US Voter Count Act – which governs every post-election power transition – prohibited him from taking unilateral action and could have required him to violate four different provisions of the law. law.

Trump supporters erected a noose near the US Capitol on January 06, 2021 and chanted threats against Mike Pence.

Trump supporters erected a noose near the US Capitol on January 06, 2021 and chanted threats against Mike Pence.Credit:Getty Images

“There is no justifiable basis for concluding that the vice president has that kind of authority,” he said.

A video of Trump’s former White House attorney, Eric Herschmann, was also released, in which he told committee investigators he viewed Eastman’s efforts as potentially criminal.

“I’m going to give you the best free legal advice you’ve ever had in your life: find a great f—– criminal defense attorney,” Herschmann told Eastman. “You’re going to need it.”

Notably, the committee heard that Eastman asked to be placed on a presidential pardon list after the attack on the Capitol, but it was not granted.

It was the third of at least seven public hearings by the Jan. 6 select committee, which has spent 11 months investigating the attack on the Capitol and Trump’s role in it.

It is particularly significant because it ties together the committee’s primary contention: that Trump both instigated the attack on Capitol Hill and played a central role in a sweeping and methodical conspiracy to overthrow a duly elected government, despite knowing that the conspiracy was illegal.

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He also provided new details showing exactly how Pence was brought to safety by the Secret Service after rioters managed to come within 40ft of him and his staff, and how he hid for hours in an underground car park in “the bowels of the Capitol”. ”. Eventually, Trump posted a tweet urging his supporters to leave the compound, after which Pence returned to certify Biden as president and Kamala Harris as vice president.

Trump, however, has repeatedly dismissed the committee’s claims. In a statement earlier this week, he described the investigation as “a smoke and mirror show for the American people.”

“The truth is that Americans showed up in Washington, D.C. in large numbers (but rarely revealed by the press), on January 6, 2021, to hold their elected officials accountable for the clear signs of criminal activity throughout the election. “, did he declare. .

Eastman refused to comply with the committee’s request for evidence, pleading the Fifth Amendment more than 100 times.

The next hearings will take place next week.

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