As I have noted in other recent posts, much of the recent ‘news’ about the insurrection has not been terribly new. It’s repackaged versions of things we knew or additional evidence and detail. This story published last night in the Post is one of the biggest revelations I’ve seen to date. John Eastman is the Federalist Society right wing law professor who wrote up the legal gloss for the President’s coup plot. It created the connective tissue joining the coup plot within the government with the paramilitary violence that broke out on Capitol Hill on January 6th.
The Post has emails – presumably emerging out of the committee investigation – of what happened during the insurrection. As the insurrectionists were storming the Capitol and Pence was holed up in a secure location as they hunted for him and members of Congress, Eastman emailed Pence and his top aide saying that the insurrection was Pence’s fault for not going through with the coup plot. With the President’s supporters ransacking the Capitol Eastman demanded Pence shift course and do the right thing.
These exchanges capture something we suspect and know in some way. But here we’re getting the details, the documentary evidence. Eastman didn’t recoil when the President’s rally escalated to violence. He clearly saw the inside coup plot and the insurrectionists on the street as part of the same effort. This isn’t surprising to most of us. The insurrectionists were laying siege to Pence in the Capitol because Pence wasn’t going along with the plan. And the answer was to go along with the plan. Eastman recognized the insurrection as the paramilitary wing of the coup plot he was part of and as the Capitol was under siege used it as a cudgel to force Pence’s hand.
Again, this won’t come to a shock to many of us. But here we’re getting the receipts. At least the first of them. To date the actions of Eastman, the President, his various coconspirators – during the hours of the assault on the Capitol – have largely been a black box even as we’ve learned more and more granular detail of the ransacking of the Capitol itself. We’ve had brief glimpses in reported accounts. There was the notorious phone call between Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Trump in which McCarthy demanded Trump call off his insurrectionists. Trump notoriously responded, “Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are.”
In real time, Trump’s message was the same as Eastman’s. You brought it on yourself and they’re my guys. The way to lift the siege is to do the right thing and support the coup. They both recognized the insurrectionists as their foot soldiers and expressed as much in real time to the members of Congress under siege. And of course they did since they were their foot soldiers.
It’s hardly surprising that both Trump and Eastman were cheering on the assault on the Capitol in real time or seeing it in the same terms. They were part of the same war room. They were leading it. Directly or indirectly McCarthy was the source of those quotes from the conversation with the President. It was reportedly anger and expletive filled. Of course he later fell in line. Much of the resistance to the investigation was his effort not to be placed under oath to reveal what happened on that day and the fact that he resisted it.
These are only two glimpses of the real story of January 6th. The Committee seems serious about getting the whole story.