As Politico’s Kyle Cheney reports, former University of Colorado Visiting Scholar in Conservative Thought and Policy John Eastman, who while serving in that role also served as the chief architect of the last-ditch plans by Donald Trump to overturn the results of the 2020 elections on January 6th, has invoked his constitutional protection against self-incrimination to justify his refusal to provide answers to questions posed by the Select Committee investigating the violent January 6th insurrection at the U.S. Capitol:
John Eastman, the attorney who helped former President Donald Trump pressure then-Vice President Mike Pence to overturn the 2020 election, has asserted his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, according to a letter he delivered to the Jan. 6 committee explaining his decision not to testify.
“Dr. Eastman hereby asserts his Fifth Amendment right not to be a witness against himself in response to your subpoena,” his attorney, Charles Burnham, wrote in a letter to Chair Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) dated Dec. 1.
“Members of this very Committee have openly spoken of making criminal referrals to the Department of Justice and described the Committee’s work in terms of determining “guilt or innocence,” Burnham continues. “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.”
Since it’s come out definitively that Eastman was a principal agent in the plot to overturn the 2020 elections, Eastman has had very different things to say about the plan he wrote and Vice President Mike Pence thankfully refused to carry out depending on the audience. Speaking to the National Review, Eastman conceded that the plan he wrote for the President would never have worked, saying “anybody who thinks that that’s a viable strategy is crazy.” But to a Democratic tracker he thought was a fellow Trump supporter, Eastman blamed Pence for not taking his advice, which he agreed was “totally solid.”
That’s just one of a number of contradictions and unanswered questions we had hoped to get sorted out with Eastman’s testimony before the January 6th Select Committee. The committee now has the option to accept or reject Eastman’s invoking of the Fifth Amendment, and could at the least compel Eastman to appear and invoke the Fifth in person for each individual question (see comment below).
Once again, the reason Eastman is a subject in Colorado politics is the University of Colorado’s decision to hire Eastman as the school’s Visiting Scholar in Conservative Thought and Policy for the 2020-21 academic year. Eastman was on the payroll of Colorado’s flagship university during the same period he wrote the plan to overturn the 2020 elections, and the (current) Republican frontrunner in the 2022 governor’s race Heidi Ganahl lauded Eastman as “fantastic” in December–even after he authored a widely-condemned article questioning Kamala Harris’ citizenship qualifications to serve as vice president.
These days, Ganahl doesn’t want to talk about Eastman. But as long as John Eastman is getting more press than Heidi Ganahl, which he has been for months while Ganahl’s campaign launch sputtered, Ganahl’s refusal to answer press questions about the man on whom she once lavished effusive praise sticks out like Uma Thurman’s giant thumbs in Even Cowgirls Get The Blues. At the same time, Ganahl’s in-private assurances to the right-wing base that “I care about everything that you care about” create the distinct impression that Ganahl is not being honest with one of these two audiences.
We therefore expect the “divisive questions” will not let up.