Legal experts trash right-wing think tank for 'blatantly misleading' defense of John Eastman's 'coup memo'
The right-wing Claremont Institute issued a misleading statement about one of its scholars' efforts to overturn Donald Trump's election loss, according to legal experts.
Senior fellow John Eastman drafted a legal memo that argued then-vice president Mike Pence had the authority to reject electors from certain states where Trump had lost, which he claimed would allow those Republican-led state legislatures to appoint their own slates, and the think tank twisted the reporting on that leaked document.
"Contrary to almost universally false news accounts, which have done great damage, John did not ask the Vice President, who was presiding over the Joint Session of Congress where electoral votes were to be counted on January 6, to "overturn" the election or to decide the validity of electoral votes," the institute said in a statement. "John advised the Vice President to accede to requests from state legislators to pause the proceedings of the Joint Session of Congress for 7 to 10 days, to give time to the state legislatures to assess whether the acknowledged illegal conduct by their state election officials had affected the results of the election."
"If the state legislatures had found sufficient illegal conduct to have altered the results, and as a result submitted a second slate of electors, John advised the Vice President that, despite credible legal arguments to the contrary, the Vice President should regard Congress, not the Vice President, as having the authority to choose between the two slates," the statement added.
Steve Vladeck, a national security law professor at the University of Texas School of Law, accused the think tank of distorting -- and therefore defending -- what Eastman urged Pence to do.
"The @ClaremontInst is attempting to whitewash John Eastman's 'how to coup in six easy steps' memo by blatantly misrepresenting what Eastman actually wrote," Vladeck tweeted. "Among other things, Eastman falsely claimed there were dueling slates of electors *and* that Pence *could* act unilaterally."
"They speak for themselves," Vladeck added, linking to the documents, "despite Claremont's transparent and bad-faith attempt to rewrite history."
Here\u2019s the short (pictures) and longer (link) Eastman memos. They speak for themselves, despite Claremont\u2019s transparent and bad-faith attempt to rewrite history:\n\nhttp://cdn.cnn.com/cnn/2021/images/09/21/privileged.and.confidential.--.jan.3.memo.on.jan.6.scenario.pdf\u00a0\u2026pic.twitter.com/YJ6vUBnAlT— Steve Vladeck (@Steve Vladeck) 1633959228
Other experts weighed in to agree with Vladeck.
Claremont Institute Admits Trump and Eastman Plotted Coup, and That Doing So Was Wrong\n\nThey didn't use those exact words, but that's what this conveys. Instead of claiming it was good, they're lying about it in obvious ways, indicating they know it's something to be ashamed of.https://twitter.com/steve_vladeck/status/1447555371057352706\u00a0\u2026— Nicholas Grossman (@Nicholas Grossman) 1633960533
This post from @steve_vladeck needs amplification. The Eastman memo is a sinister attack on democracy. The only disinformation campaign is the one in which Eastman participated.https://twitter.com/steve_vladeck/status/1447555371057352706\u00a0\u2026— Barb McQuade (@Barb McQuade) 1633959463
Claremont also accuses the @FedSoc of \u201crefusing to allow [Eastman] to discuss essential constitutional questions.\u201d\n\nThis is welcome news if true, and it underscores the need for @FedSoc to clarify its relationship with Eastman.pic.twitter.com/1nRDmhagMt— Christian Vanderbrouk (@Christian Vanderbrouk) 1633960514
Real fascism isn't just trying to seize power, it's lying to you that the power grab you saw didn't happen. Pic 1 is what the Claremont Institute says John Eastman was advocating. Pic 2 is what he was actually advocating. https://twitter.com/ClaremontInst/status/1447557319580082181\u00a0\u2026pic.twitter.com/fUyuoW8XGT— Mike Rothschild (@Mike Rothschild) 1633960460
Post-Jan. 6, Eastman has publicly taken the position that CI describes as his pre-Jan. 6 legal advice. Eg: In his podcast with Larry Lessig, Eastman explicitly says, \u201cThe VP does not have this power.\u201d \n\nPerhaps that should have appeared in his memo.https://equalcitizens.us/discussing-the-john-eastman-memo-with-john-eastman/\u00a0\u2026— Connor Ewing (@Connor Ewing) 1633962510
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