Then-President Donald Trump began setting the stage for an attack on the 2020 election results via the courts as early as August 2020, according to a new filing by a key figure allegedly involved in that scheme, conservative legal scholar John Eastman.
Eastman’s lawyers filed the 41-page brief on Tuesday as part of Eastman’s effort to prevent the House Jan. 6 Committee from accessing his work emails in the days before, during and after the Capitol insurrection. The brief, which aimed to back Eastman’s claim of having an attorney-client relationship with Trump that blocks the committee from his emails, also gave a new timeline of Trump’s crusade to overturn the 2020 election — even before he lost it.
According to Eastman’s attorneys, Trump legal ally Cleta Mitchell reached out to Eastman on Sept. 3, 2020 inviting him to join an “Election Integrity Working Group” to “begin preparing for anticipated post-election litigation.”
Trump had asked Mitchell to undertake that prep work in late August that year, Eastman’s lawyers said.
We already knew Mitchell was at the center of some of Trump’s efforts to steal the election, including participating in the then-president’s call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in early January 2020 when he allegedly pushed the official to “find” the votes needed to overturn Joe Biden’s win in Georgia. Mitchell, who did not respond to TPM’s request for comment, is now at the helm of Republicans efforts to take over election offices.
After joining Mitchell’s group, Eastman’s lawyers said in the new filing, Eastman started conducting “legal research and collaborating with academic advisors and other supporters of the President about the myriad number of factual and legal issues he anticipated might arise following the election.”
The briefing also argued that people like Eastman who believe the election was stolen from Trump are vulnerable to McCarthy-style persecution.
“In certain social and professional circles these days, having disfavored views on the 2020 election can be as personally damaging as being labeled a communist was in the 1950’s,” Eastman’s lawyers wrote.
The court document also revealed some of the search terms the House Jan. 6 Committee had asked Eastman to use when digging up emails that were relevant to its investigation, which included “antifa,” “China” and “Venezuela” – aka key phrases in MAGAland’s conspiracy theories about election fraud.
Eastman became a focus of the House panel’s investigation after it was revealed that he had drawn up a legally dubious plot mapping out a way for Vice President Mike Pence to object to the electoral college results and replace some of Biden’s electors with a slate of Trump ones instead.
Read the court document below: