The attorney representing lawyer John Eastman, who advised President Donald Trump during his election overturn effort, has told the Jan. 6th committee his client is asserting his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination.
Lawyer Charles Burnham revealed the extraordinary information in a letter to panel chair Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), in a week that saw another Trump loyalist, former DOJ official Jeffrey Clark, indicating he planned to take the Fifth.
‘Dr. Eastman hereby asserts his Fifth Amendment right not to be a witness against himself in response to your subpoena,’ Burnham wrote.
‘Dr. Eastman has a more than reasonable fear that any statements he makes pursuant to this subpoena will be used in an attempt to mount a criminal investigation against him,’ wrote Burnham.
Burnham goes on to outline a number of complaints with the subpoena itself – including attacking the makeup of the Jan. 6th select committee itself. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi created the body, designated two panel Republicans after a fight with Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy over its composition after she rejected his designees.
Lawyer John Eastman (l) ‘asserts his Fifth Amendment right not to be a witness against himself,’ his lawyer said in a letter to the Jan. 6th Committee
He said the committee lacks a ‘ranking minority member,’ which ‘makes it impossible to comply with relevant House Rules, including those applicable to subpoenas and depositions.’
He also said the subpoena itself is ‘extraordinarily broad’ and ‘goes far beyond even the most expansive reading of the Committee’s authorizing resolution in asking for materials bearing no reasonable relation to the events of January 6.’
He cites an ‘extreme risk of gross unfairness to the subjects of your investigation,’ and mentions the decision to take testimony behind closed doors, in a letter obtained by Politico.
Several associates of former President Trump are failing to comply with subpoenas or otherwise testify
Pro-Trump protesters storm the U.S. Capitol to contest the certification of the 2020 U.S. presidential election results by the U.S. Congress, at the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., U.S. January 6, 2021
Eastman took part in a Jan. 4th Oval Office meeting where participants debated whether Vice President Mike Pence had the authority to not accept votes certified by states that ultimately made Joe Biden President when Congress met to count votes Jan. 6th.
Eastman spoke at the Jan. 6th ‘Save America’ rally, and penned two memos, what he calls a draft and a six-page version, putting out various election scenarios, including one where Vice President Mike Pence would refuse to accept votes certified by states where Trump was claiming election fraud occurred.
He says in his meeting with Trump he advised having Pence move to adjourn a joint session of Congress when lawmakers met to count the electoral votes.
The House panel on Wednesday voted to hold Clark in contempt for his failure to answer questions about the period leading up to the riot. Clark showed up for a November deposition but refused to be interviewed.
Thompson said shortly before the panel’s hearing, the committee was notified that Clark wants to assert his right against self-incrimination.
“This is, in my view, a last-ditch attempt to delay the Select Committee´s proceedings. However, a Fifth Amendment privilege assertion is a weighty one. Even though Mr. Clark previously had the opportunity to make these claims on the record, the Select Committee will provide him another chance to do so.”
The panel plans to meet with him Saturday so he can assert his Fifth Amendment rights.
The committee’s subpoena cites Eastman, a former law professor at Chapman University, to pressure Vice President Mike Pence over his role overseeing the count of electoral college votes certified by the states.
It also flags a briefing Eastman provided to state legislators and his participation in a ‘war room’ at the Willard Hotel in Washington.
Another ‘war room’ participant, former chief White House strategist Steve Bannon, was indicted last month for contempt of Congress after failing to comply with a subpoena from the committee.
‘In the days before the Jan. 6 attack, the former president’s closest allies and advisers drove a campaign of misinformation about the election and planned ways to stop the count of Electoral College votes,’ Thompson said in a statement when the committee revealed its subpoena of Eastman last month.
The November subpoena told Eastman: ‘Credible evidence that you know about, and may have participated in, attempts to encourage the Vice President of the United States to reject the electors from several states or, at the very least, to delay the electoral college results to give states more time to submit different slates of electors.’
It also says he ‘testified to Georgia state senators regarding alleged voter fraud and shared a paper that argued that the state legislature could reject election results and directly appoint electors.’ The district attorney in Georgia is investigating Trump’s efforts to pressure election officials there.
The Fifth Amendment against self-incrimination ‘protects the innocent as well as the guilty,’ his lawyer wrote, citing a court case.
‘While Dr. Eastman emphatically denies committing any illegal acts, he nonetheless has a reasonable fear that the requested information could be used against him in court,’ Burnham wrote.