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Jan. 6 Latest: Trump Lawyer Eastman Sought White House Pardon

·6 min read

(Bloomberg) -- The Jan. 6 committee resumed its public hearings Thursday with a session focused on Donald Trump’s campaign to pressure then-Vice President Mike Pence to block congressional certification of Joe Biden’s presidential election win.

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Pence wasn’t at the hearing, which lasted several hours. Greg Jacob, who was Pence’s chief counsel, and J. Michael Luttig, a prominent conservative former federal appeals court judge, both of whom advised Pence he had no legal authority to block or delay the certification, testified. The panel also presented video excerpts from depositions by others, including Marc Short, who was Pence’s chief of staff.

Key Developments

  • How Trump Pressured Pence Is Focus as Jan. 6 Hearings Resume

  • Made-for-TV Hearings by Jan. 6 Panel Borrow a Page From Netflix

Trump Lawyer Eastman Sought Pardon (3:42 p.m.)

In the days following the attack on the Capitol, John Eastman, one of Trump’s lawyers, asked to be considered for a presidential pardon, according to an email displayed at the hearing.

“I’ve decided that I should be on the pardon list, if that is still in the works,” Eastman wrote in his email to another attorney for Trump, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Eastman was not pardoned.

Eastman, in videotaped testimony given to the committee, asserting his Fifth Amendment right not to answer questions that could incriminate him.

Informant told FBI Proud Boys Would Have Killed Pence (3:18 p.m.)

California Democrat Pete Aguilar, a member of the Jan. 6 committee, read off a court filing by the Department of Justice that explains a confidential informant from the Proud Boys told the FBI the Proud Boys “would have killed Mike Pence if given a chance.”

Testimony said the protesters got within 40 feet of Pence as he was being hustled to a secure location within the Capitol.

Jacob said that Trump never called Pence to check on his safety.

Pence Aide Says He Warned Secret Service Trump ‘Would Lash Out’ (2:54 p.m.)

Pence’s top aide said he became so concerned about the tension between Trump and the vice president that he decided the day before Jan. 6 to warn the Secret Service agent leading Pence’s security detail.

“My concern was for the vice president’s security,” Short told the panel in a video excerpt from a deposition Short gave the committee.

Short said he alerted the Secret Service because as the disagreement over certifying the election results became more public he believed “that the president would lash out in some way.”

Witness Cites Gore’s Refusal to Overturn 2000 Vote (2:45 p.m.)

Jacob suggested then-Vice President Al Gore would have elected himself president if he could have thrown away votes during the 2001 electoral count.

“Don’t you think Al Gore might have liked to have known in 2000 that he had the authority to declare himself president of the United States?” Jacob said he said to Trump lawyer John Eastman.

In January 2001, Gore oversaw the certification of the election in which he was on top of the ticket. Running against George W. Bush, Gore ultimately conceded the race after losing a legal fight over Florida’s vote.

Trump Lawyer Knew Pence Was Powerless to Overturn Election, Jacob Says (2:33 p.m.)

Jacob recounted throughout his questioning how Eastman, the main architect of the ploy to have Pence reject the electors, knew the legal position was untenable.

Jacob said Eastman acknowledged in a meeting on Jan. 4 that Pence could not reject the electors and he was “most surprised” to hear Eastman say in a meeting on Jan. 5 that he was requesting Pence to reject the electors. “On the 4th that had been the path that he said I’m not recommending that you do that, but on the 5th he came in and expressly requested that.”

In that Jan. 5 discussion, Jacob said he told Eastman that he would not have wanted Al Gore to wield the power to throw out electors during the 2000 election and he would not want Kamala Harris to have the power in 2024 either.

Trump Chief of Staff, Lawyers Thought Pence Couldn’t Block Electors (2:14 p.m.)

Top White House lawyers and Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows didn’t think the plan for Pence to block election certification was legal and even the lawyer behind the strategy thought it would lose in the Supreme Court, White House aides testified.

Meadows told Short, Pence’s chief of staff, that he didn’t agree with the legal strategy, Short said in a video deposition the panel showed.

White House Counsel Pat Cipollone described it as “nutty,” Trump adviser Jason Miller said. And Trump senior adviser Eric Herschmann called it “completely crazy.”

Eastman, the Trump lawyer pressing the strategy acknowledged that the Trump team “would lose 9 to nothing” if the Supreme Court ruled on the strategy, Jacob told the committee.

Herschmann said he told Eastman the country would have “riots in the streets” if the vice president decided to overturn a presidential election. Eastman retorted that there had been violence in the history of the country before, Herschmann said.

Pence Rejected Trump Theory on Electoral Count (1:32 p.m.)

Jacob said his conversations with Pence on the Electoral Count Act began a month after the election and focused on the former vice president’s role in the certification process during the joint session of Congress in light of Trump’s theory that Pence could throw out electoral votes.

Jacob said Pence’s first instinct was “there was no way” that the framers would have put “one person” in a “role to have decisive impact on the outcome of the election.”

Moments before the Jacob questioning, the committee played a video of Trump supporters chanting “Hang Mike Pence!” with footage of the gallows erected outside the Capitol.

Democrats Laud Republican Pence’s Actions (1:07 p.m.)

The Democratic chairman of the panel started the hearing with some kind words for the performance under fire of Pence, a Republican vice president and likely candidate for president in 2024.

“He resisted the pressure. He knew it was illegal, he knew it was wrong. We are fortunate for Mike Pence’s courage,” Mississippi Representative Bennie Thompson said.

Aguilar said Pence “withstood an onslaught of pressure” from Trump both publicly and privately.

“Vice President Pence did the right thing that day,” Aguilar said. “He stayed true to his oath.”

Murphy Challenges Loudermilk on Constituent Tour (9:28 a.m.)

Questions continue to be raised about a tour Representative Barry Loudermilk arranged of the Capitol complex on Jan. 5 and whether participants were “casing” the building for the next day’s assault.

The committee has asked Loudermilk, a Georgia Republican, for information about the tour, conducted when the building was closed to the public, but he has refused to appear. Security footage shows some of the people taking photographs during their visit.

“Usually people don’t take pictures of stairwells, exits, security check points,” Florida Representative Stephanie Murphy, a member of the committee, told David Westin for Bloomberg TV’s Balance of Power. “If he has nothing to hide, I think he should be willing to talk to the committee.”

Loudermilk, in a tweet, said, “As Capitol Police confirmed, nothing about this visit with constituents was suspicious.”

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