John Eastman, the Trump legal adviser behind the infamous memo (which had two similar drafts) detailing various strategies for then-Vice President Mike Pence to thwart the 2020 election certification, is insisting that he totally didn’t think those options were legit and were, in fact, totally bonkers, and Eastman does not believe in ideas that are bonkers, thank you very much!
Eastman told the National Review that the memos were “internal discussion memos” merely describing “available scenarios that had been floated,” and that somebody on Trump’s legal team “had asked” Eastman to write them.
“I was asked to kind of outline how each of those scenarios would work and then orally present my views on whether I thought they were valid or not, so that’s what those memos did,” the conservative lawyer said.
Unfortunately, Eastman couldn’t “recall” which legal team member gave him that task because he has too many darn phone calls.
“It was by a phone conversation, and I’ve gone back in my phone records, and I have so many calls, I can’t tell, you know, which call it was,” he told the National Review.
Eastman insisted he doesn’t actually believe in the memo’s jaw-dropping argument that House GOP could replace Biden’s electoral votes, and “anybody who thinks that that’s a viable strategy is crazy.”
The lawyer also claimed he disagreed with the memos’ assertion that the vice president is the “ultimate arbiter” of which electoral votes could be counted. Eastman said that argument “doesn’t make a whole lot of sense” given that “we know the vice president is very likely to be one of the contenders for the office that he’ll be deciding.”
In one particularly bold moment in the interview, Eastman tried to paint himself as defender against Trump’s more extreme attacks on the election, claiming that he was the one who convinced the then-president that Pence couldn’t cancel the votes entirely. So Trump settled for the idea that Pence could just give states time to certify new electors instead, according to Eastman.
“Call me the white-knight hero here, talking [Trump] down from the more aggressive position,” the attorney told the National Review.
In his interviews with the National Review, Eastman was caught at one point contradicting himself on a basic fact: whether he had discussed his memos with Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), as reported in Bob Woodward and Robert Costa’s book “Peril.”
Eastman said in the first interview, “I’ve never had any dealings with Mike Lee about this at all. I don’t know who gave him a copy of the internal memo.”
But when the National Review confronted Eastman with a passage in the book that describes how he had told Lee in December that “there’s a memo about to be developed” and “I’ll get it to you as soon as I can,” the lawyer did a full 180.
“I want to be very precise here: I said at the time I did not recall having any conversations with Mike Lee, and I certainly don’t have any record of having given him the memo,” Eastman said (his initial quote says explicitly he never talked to Lee about the memos).
“But now that I’ve seen that quote from — I do recall that Mike Lee called me at one point,” he added. “I don’t remember the subject of the conversation.”
Eastman’s topsy-turvy claims come in the middle of a huge firestorm over his memos: A nonpartisan election integrity group consisting of lawyers and former federal judges have filed a bar complaint against him, and the Claremont Institute, a conservative think tank where he works as a senior fellow, attempted to defend him last week by claiming the lawyer was merely offering “legal advice” to Trump.
But apparently Eastman forgot to get that part of the story straight before his interviews with the National Review.
“The memo was not being provided to Trump or Pence as my advice,” he said.