- John Eastman declined to answer questions under his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.
- Eastman developed Vice President Mike Pence’s strategy to reject voters in key states.
- Eastman’s lawyers argue that he is being punished for his unpopular political views.
WASHINGTON- John Eastmanthe lawyer who developed of former President Donald Trump strategy to overturn Joe Biden’s victory in the presidential election, published on Wednesday before a Georgian grand jury investigate interference in the 2020 election.
Eastman’s lawyers, Charles Burnham and Harvey Silverglate, released a statement saying that they advised him to refuse to answer questions under his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. Lawyers declined to disclose substance of the questions asked.
“By all indications, the district attorney’s office has embarked on an unprecedented path of criminalizing controversial or disadvantaged legal theories, perhaps in hopes that the federal government will follow its lead,” the statement said. “The criminalization of unpopular legal theories is contrary to all American traditions and would have ended the careers of John Adams, Ruth Ginsburg, Thurgood Marshall and many other now famous American lawyers.”
Separately, Silverglate raised concerns that his client had become the target of the investigation along with Trump attorney Rudy Guiliani and 16 others who served as surrogate voters for Trump in the state in the goal of undoing President Joe Biden’s victory.
“The reason for that is that criminal prosecutors are able, in the lingo of my trade, ‘able to charge a ham sandwich.'” Silverglate told USA TODAY in an email. “Criminal laws are broad and vague enough that almost everyone has done something that could arguably be twisted to fit a definition of a crime. We are all vulnerable.”
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Eastman had previously refused to answer questions from the House committee investigating the attack on the Capitol on January 6, 2021, citing the Fifth Amendment.
A California federal judge has already ruled Eastman and Trump most likely acted illegally trying to nullify the election, but neither has been criminally charged.
Eastman’s strategy required then Vice President Mike Pence, in his role as Senate President, to reject Biden voters from seven contested states when Congress counted the Electoral College votes. Rejecting the votes would either give Trump the election or send him to the House of Representatives, where a majority of Republican delegations could name Trump president.
Pence declined to participate.
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The Grand Jury of Fulton County, Georgia, investigation into potential interference and called witnesses, including Eastman, Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani and Georgia Governor Brian Kemp.
Trump called Kemp and urged him to “find” enough votes to move Georgia from Biden to Trump in 2020.
According to court documents requesting Giuliani’s grand jury appearance, Fulton County authorities point to Trump’s attorney’s Dec. 3, 2020, appearance before the Georgia State Senate in which he offered a videotaped election workers at State Farm Arena in Atlanta, claiming to show “suitcases” of illegal ballots from unknown sources, out of sight of election observers.
Within 24 hours of the state Senate hearing, the video had been discredited by the Secretary of State’s office, concluding that “no voter fraud of any kind had taken place.”
Fulton County officials referenced the same Senate hearing to obtain Eastman’s grand jury testimony.
During that hearing, Eastman referenced the plan to build alternative lists of voters to support Trump. Trump’s attorney, according to court documents, told lawmakers they had a “duty” to replace the Democratic Party’s voter roll, citing unsubstantiated allegations of voter fraud in the state.