Legal experts trash right-wing think tank for 'blatantly misleading' defense of John Eastman's 'coup memo'

Legal experts trash right-wing think tank for 'blatantly misleading' defense of John Eastman's 'coup memo'
John C. Eastman, image via Wikimedia Commons.

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."

Other experts weighed in to agree with Vladeck.

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