Eastman sought Trump pardon for scheme to overturn 2020 election, email shows

·3-min read

Lawyer John Eastman, the primary architect of President Donald Trump’s scheme to overturn his 2020 election loss to Joe Biden, wrote an email to Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani requesting a presidential pardon, according to evidence presented at Thursday’s hearing of the Jan. 6 House select committee.

“I’ve decided that I should be on the pardon list, if that is still in the works,” Eastman wrote to Giuliani in an email sent on Jan. 11, 2021, that was shown during Thursday’s testimony. “Will taint me, but given the outright lies and false witness being spewed, having that protection is probably the prudent.”

Eastman received no such pardon, however. His email was sent five days after former Vice President Mike Pence refused to go along with Eastman’s plan to reject the Electoral College count showing Biden had defeated Trump and in the aftermath of a Jan. 6 riot by the president’s supporters at the U.S. Capitol.

Eastman and Giuliani both spoke at the “Stop the Steal” Trump rally that preceded the Capitol riot, recounting thoroughly discredited claims of voter fraud.

“All we are demanding of Vice President Pence is this afternoon at 1 o’clock he let the legislatures of the state look into this so that we get to the bottom of it and the American people know that we have control of the direction of our government or not,” Eastman told the crowd.

John Eastman and Rudy Giuliani
Chapman University law professor John Eastman and Trump personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani at the "Stop the Steal" rally, Jan. 6, 2021. (Jim Bourg/Reuters)

Thursday’s disclosure of Eastman‘s email seeking a pardon came amid hours of testimony from former Trump and Pence staff members who recounted how Eastman knew full well that his plan to have the vice president send back the Electoral College results to the states was unconstitutional.

White House attorney Eric Herschmann told the committee in videotaped testimony that Eastman called him on Jan. 7, 2021, regarding ongoing efforts to challenge the election results despite the fact that Pence had overseen the certification of the Electoral College count.

“I said to him, ‘Are you out of your effing mind?’” Herschmann said he told Eastman. “I only want to hear two words coming out of your mouth from now on: orderly transition.”

Later in that call, Herschmann advised Eastman to “get a good criminal defense lawyer. You’re going to need it.”

John Eastman's email to Rudy Guiliani
John Eastman's email to Rudy Guiliani, requesting to be on Trump's pardon list. (House.gov)

Herschmann also testified that Eastman discounted fears that pushing the illegal scheme to overturn the election would incite violence.

“I said, ‘You’re going to cause riots in the streets,’” Herschmann told the committee. “And he said words to the effect of, ‘There’s been violence in the history of our country to protect the democracy or protect the republic.’”


The rioters got within 2 doors of Vice President Mike Pence's office. See how in this 3D explainer from Yahoo Immersive.