John Eastman And Colleagues Worked On 2020 Election Simulation That Is Drowning In Irony

Trump supporters clash with police and security forces as they push barricades to storm the US Capitol in Washington D.C on January 6, 2021. - Demonstrators breeched security and entered the Capitol as Congress debat... Trump supporters clash with police and security forces as they push barricades to storm the US Capitol in Washington D.C on January 6, 2021. - Demonstrators breeched security and entered the Capitol as Congress debated the a 2020 presidential election Electoral Vote Certification. (Photo by ROBERTO SCHMIDT / AFP) (Photo by ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP via Getty Images) MORE LESS
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November 8, 2021 5:16 p.m.

Just a few weeks before advising the White House on Donald Trump’s efforts to steal a second term as president, conservative lawyer John Eastman took part in an election simulation that imagined it would be left-wingers, not Trump supporters, attempting to destabilize the country through violence. 

The simulation, recapped in a document called the “79 Days Report,” was flagged Monday by The Bulwark, and copies of it were still available Monday on the websites of the Texas Public Policy Foundation and The Claremont Institute. Eastman is a senior fellow at the latter organization, and is named as a participant in the exercise, which speculated with a high level of detail about the projected violence by left-wing groups intent on stealing the presidency. Neither organization responded to TPM’s request for comment.

Though the work is hypothetical, it contains several overlaps with Eastman’s now-infamous legal memos for Trump. Those memos spelled out ways for Trump to retain power, including the consideration that Congress, down to a vote by state delegation, could determine the next president, rather than the American public. In January 2021, that particular scenario almost became a reality. 

According to the report, the October exercise culminated with a hypothetical Republican congressman, hospitalized by an attack amid nationwide rioting from Black Lives Matter and antifa groups, being brought onto the floor of Congress to cast the deciding vote for Donald Trump to remain president. 

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“As the House is returning to session to vote by state delegation, there is a massive and violent Antifa demonstration in D.C.” the report theorized. “In the confusion, a Republican member from an at-large delegation is attacked and sent to the hospital with life-threatening wounds. With only 25 state delegations in control, it looks like the Speaker might become temporary President on January 20 per the Succession Act pending the elevation of the Vice President or unless the House comes to agreement.” 

“The critically injured Member of Congress, however, understanding what is at stake, demands to be transported to the House for the state delegation vote and arrives in a heavily guarded convoy. With IVs and blood transfusions being administered, the Member from (AK, MT, ND, SD, or WY) casts the deciding vote, giving Trump 26 state delegations and the needed majority.” 

‘Mirror-Image Fallacy’

The report was a response to a similar tabletop exercise from the Transition Integrity Project, a group of anti-Trump Democrats and Republicans who war-gamed potential pitfalls ahead of the 2020 election — spurring plenty of right-wing hysteria about a supposedly imminent left-wing coup. 

Other listed participants in the 79 Days simulation include KT McFarland, Trump’s former deputy national security advisor, and Charles Haywood, who, the Bulwark noted, had written hopefully about an authoritarian ruler coming to power. 

The Transition Integrity Project, according to the “79 Days Report,” suffered from the so-called “Mirror-Image Fallacy” — or assuming that others share one’s own faults.

TIP, according to the conservative report, “assumed that Republicans under President Trump would routinely violate the law to win, threaten mass demonstrations in the streets, seize the assets of political opponents, and start a conflict overseas to divert attention from the highly-contested post-election period.” 

These actions, the report suggested, were more likely to be taken by those on the left. 

In fact, within a few months of the report’s publication, Trump and his supporters would tick some of these boxes themselves.

The irony in the 79 Days Report runs deep: In the days leading up to Jan. 6 in the hypothetical scenario, the conservative report imagined Capitol Police securing Congress with concrete barriers and other, more extreme crowd control measures “in anticipation of chaos after the vote.” 

Similar efforts are undertaken at the state level — the hypothetical report mentioned Black Lives Matter and anti-fascist efforts to occupy the statehouses in Texas, Florida and Michigan “as a result of their electoral situations” — even though conservatives had already occupied statehouses, in real life, as part of COVID protests. 

Blood Lust

Though much of the report focused on the imagined fallout from a close election, several pages went into great detail about the imagined arrests and police killings of left-wing activists and protestors.

In response to the nationwide rioting imagined in the report, for instance, participants described what would happen next: pretextual arrests of activists leaders in the name of public safety. 

“Law enforcement in major cities coordinate with the FBI and other federal agencies to identify leaders and agitators within the groups associated with BLM, Antifa, Boogaloo, and NFAC,” the report read. NFAC refers to “Not Fucking Around Coalition,” a Black militia group whose leader now, in reality, faces federal charges.

“Operation Spearfish commences with over one thousand arrest warrants issued using federal and state statutes from RICO to disorderly conduct with coordinated pre-dawn warrant executions nationwide,” the report continues, describing the imagined crackdown.

Elsewhere, the report imagined a police sniper shooting one person in a crowd of would-be “Black Block” arsonists wielding Molotov cocktails. 

“The Molotov Cocktail exploded when he dropped the bottle and covered several rioters in flames, three injured severely and one dead at the scene,” the report read. “The shot from the police sniper and the subsequent fires cleared the area for the time being.” 

At times, the report seemed to devolve into pure fan fiction, with police chiefs and union leaders delivering sharp one-liners to clueless liberal politicians and reporters. 

During an imagined press conference in the middle of election-inspired rioting in Chicago, the authors of the conservative simulation even gave the leader of the Chicago police union, John Catanzara, a stage direction in response to a reporter asking about incidents of excessive force.

“Really?” Catanzara told the reporter. “Take a look out that window there, you tell me, what the hell is excessive right now? (leaves podium).” 

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