John Eastman Pleads The Fifth

Former University of Colorado “Visiting Scholar in Conservative Thought and Policy” John Eastman speaking in Washington D.C. January 6th, 2021.

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).

Heidi Ganahl.

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.

18 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Correction: John Eastman has written a letter saying he's pleading the 5th. But he is not under oath while writing this letter, and the Committee may require that the 5th Amendment claim be invoked on a per-question basis when they do put him under oath. He cannot make a valid blanket 5th amendment claim on, e.g. the question of whether or not he was on CU visiting faculty.

  2. Duke Cox says:

    Sooo…..he wrote the letter saying he intends to plead the5, to smoke out the Boss and see if a contract has been let on him. 

    Is this as big a deal as it seems?

    • bullshit! says:

      Well, if it hadn't been Eastman it would have been another crooked lawyer who wrote the plan, like Jenna Ellis. But it was Eastman so he should be in the hot seat.

      TRUMP should be the one getting jail time though, before any of the insurrectionists or even John Eastman.

  3. The realist says:

    Ahhh, brings back "great" memories. Here's the response I received in January from the Office of the Board of Regents a few days after I wrote to complain about Eastman being on the faculty following his Jan 6th speech to those who then attacked the U.S. Capitol:

    "Thank you for writing to share your thoughts. We understand and appreciate your suggestion that we dismiss visiting scholar John Eastman due to his work for President Trump and his role in the events of January 6, 2021. CU Boulder Chancellor Phil DiStefano and team considered that as they examined whether Mr. Eastman violated the law or university policy in his speech at the U.S. Capitol on January 6.

    While the campus noted that Eastman “helped fan the flames of disinformation and distrust,” his speech falls into the category of political speech and is protected by the First Amendment. Additionally, university policy prohibits censoring a faculty member’s political statements or initiating discipline because it disapproves of them. The campus will not dismiss Eastman due to these considerations, but it has condemned his actions publicly.

    Mr. Eastman’s two classes did not meet enrollment targets so he will not teach at CU spring semester, and his visiting scholar appointment ends in May. We understand this is not the result you want, but we are bound by the U.S. Constitution and university policy.

    Thank you.

    Office of the Board of Regents"


    I wonder if the Regents think Eastman's written step-by-step guide to overthrow our government was just "political speech."



    • RepealAndReplace says:

      "Mr. Eastman’s two classes did not meet enrollment targets so he will not teach at CU spring semester, and his visiting scholar appointment ends in May."

      The law students knew better and voted with their feet.

      The letter came from the Board of Regents. I wonder if Hiedi Heidi Ganahl recused herself since it sounded like you were posing a divisive question.

      • JohnInDenver says:

        It was not a law school appointment … it was for the University, and the courses were undergrad.  Denver Post reported:

        Two students were enrolled in one of Eastman’s courses and six had signed up for the other, according to the university. The College of Arts & Sciences typically requires 15 students for an undergraduate class, Sorensen said.

        Eastman, who taught “American Political Thought” and “Foundations of Western Civilization” in the fall, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

        Students who were enrolled will be provided alternative classes that will meet their degree needs, Sorensen said.

    • ParkHill says:

      When the chickens come home to roost…

      I'll bet you could find somewhere that Eastman plagiarized in his research.

  4. Conserv. Head Banger says:

    If I was still into cheap wine, which I’m not, I could do a toast tonight to Eastman with a Fifth of Mad Dog. 

  5. Gilpin Guy says:

    How is Eastman's claiming the 5th going to square with Trump's view of it in 2018?

    “You see the mob takes the Fifth,” he said. “If you’re innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?”  May 7, 2018

    • RepealAndReplace says:

      Quite easily. Trump never said that in 2018. It's fake news! Don't believe the MSM! The video is a hoax!

      And even if they have him on record having said that, do you really think any of his followers give a rat's ass about events that happened that far back in time. You're lucky if they remember what they had for breakfast yesterday.

  6. Meiner49er says:

    Surely the plea is that he had consumed a 5th of Colorado whisky before writing the memo?

  7. Diogenesdemar says:

    This is going to come as a huge shock to many Real Republicans; . . .

    . . . there’s three amendments after the second?????!

    (Has anyone actually performed a recount? . . .)

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