Eastman’s Latest Emails: A CU-erious Problem For Democracy

Coup daddy John Eastman.

Following Tuesday’s big scoop from the Denver Post’s Elizabeth Hernandez, the disclosure of new email communications originating from lead 2020 presidential coup plotter John Eastman’s University of Colorado email account while he was serving as the school’s Visiting Scholar in Conservative Thought and Policy and simultaneously helping Donald Trump overturn the results of the 2020 election, national news outlets have zeroed in on new details in these emails about Eastman’s advice to Republicans in Pennsylvania to submit bogus electors arrived at through highly un-democratic arithmetic in order to throw the state’s support to Trump. Politico’s Kyle Cheney:

Attorney John Eastman urged Republican legislators in Pennsylvania to retabulate the state’s popular vote — and throw out tens of thousands of absentee ballots — in order to show Donald Trump with a lead, according to newly unearthed emails sent in December 2020, as Trump pressured GOP lawmakers to subvert his defeat.

This recalculation, he posited in an exchange with one GOP state lawmaker, “would help provide some cover” for Republicans to replace Joe Biden’s electors from the state with a slate of pro-Trump electors, part of a last-ditch bid to overturn the election results.

Per the exchange, Eastman suggested that GOP legislators could simply cite their concerns with Pennsylvania’s absentee ballot procedures and then use historical data to “discount each candidates’ totals by a prorated amount based on the absentee percentage those candidates otherwise received.”

All of the authority to carry out what would have amounted to the erasure of thousands of legally-cast absentee ballots, according to Eastman, is inherent to the legislature’s supposed powers do basically do whatever they want with the results of a democratic election, including ignore it entirely:

“Having done that math, you’d be left with a significant Trump lead that would bolster the argument for the Legislature adopting a slate of Trump electors — perfectly within your authority to do anyway, but now bolstered by the untainted popular vote,” [Pols emphasis] Eastman wrote in a Dec. 4, 2020 email to Pennsylvania Rep. Russ Diamond. “That would help provide some cover.”

This is Professor Eastman telling Republican lawmakers that not only do they have a pretext that would allow them to summarily invalidate thousands of legally cast ballots, but they don’t even need the pretext. If you subscribe to John Eastman’s interpretation of the law, there’s nothing except perhaps judgment in the afterlife awaiting lawmakers who decide the results of an election don’t count because they don’t like the outcome.

If you believe that, like Donald Trump himself says, “we won’t have a country anymore.”

In the Washington Post today, columnist Greg Sargent lays out the fundamental problem with what Eastman (and Trump) were proposing, and how even though it failed last time it must be prevented from being possible going forward:

“Eastman’s view is that the legislature has absolute power in terms of picking presidential electors,” elections expert Richard L. Hasen told me, even if that means “ignoring the will of the voters” or “the legislature’s prior rules on how to pick those electors.”

In the future, Hasen notes, bad actors might see this as “a path to steal an election.” [Pols emphasis]

There’s more: Right now many Republicans in thrall to Trump’s 2020 lies are running for positions of control over election machinery at the state level, including secretary of state positions.

Crucially, such people would be in a position to create exactly the pretext that Eastman envisioned. How? By using official stature to cast doubt on popular vote outcomes, manufacturing “cover” for a state legislature and/or governor to certify fake electors for a losing candidate. A GOP-controlled House could then count those electors and flip a state or even an election.

Although the attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 election by Trump and his minions did not succeed, the actors responsible for the near-success of this bloody coup are emboldened and working hard on a strategy to gain control of the nation’s election systems ahead of their next opportunity. Because there has been no accountability at any level for what happened in 2020, no one has been deterred from trying again. Meanwhile, as we’ve already seen in Colorado this year in the Republican primary for governor, second-guessing votes that don’t go their way has been fully embraced down the ballot. There is a whole generation of Republican voters now who may never trust elections again unless they win them.

January 6th should have been the end of this madness. Because it was not, a destructive force has been unleashed on American democracy in a long-term sense. And if we can’t acknowledge how close this plot came to succeeding, the next one is even more likely to.

This is, as they say, the whole ballgame. Nothing we do matters if this doesn’t.

17 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Moderatus says:

    Colorado Pols doesn't realize it but you're making a good case for…Pam Anderson.

    Pam Anderson wants to take the politics out of elections completely, and that should be a goal both sides support. Yes, Jena Griswold makes liberals happy but that leaves half the voters out in the cold. Liberals know that Anderson will never allow elections to be monkeyed with on either side, but conservatives can't say that about Jena Griswold.

    Vote Pam Anderson in 2022 for Colorado Secretary of State.

    • MichaelBowman says:

      We live in an era where half the population (the minority-less-than- half in your case) is going to harbor a grudge about non-existent issues anyway so I vote we just keep things like they are. 

    • Duke Cox says:

      You mean conservatives WON'T say that about Jena Griswold. Besides, Fluffy, those you refer to as "conservative", really aren't.

      I think I will take the opinion of Republican 36, who seems much closer to "conservative" than you.

    • Gilpin Guy says:

      Notice how Moldy says nothing about Eastman trying to overturn a fair election for his wet dreams deity Trump.  Not a word about the substance of the article being about cheaters in the Republican party cheating.  Not a word.  Just a bunch of mumbo jumbo about how Tina Peters is his shining light and beacon of election integrity and respect for the law.  Distraction is the only thing he knows how to do because discussing the substance of the post would force him to acknowledge how corrupt his candidates really are.

      • BoulderPatentGuy says:

        Definitely not saying Democrats don't have corruption issues in their ranks, it's the nature of the beast, but… where is there evidence of county-level Democrats (or any for that matter?) breaking the election laws similar to Tina Peters or otherwise?  Honestly would like to see something here, esp. related to Colorado since this website is, you know, coloradopols.com. TIA.

    • Genghis says:

      Vote Pam Anderson in 2022 for Colorado Secretary of State.

      Aaaaand that's a wrap. Happy trails and fare thee well to the 2022 SoS campaign of Pam Anderson.

    • unnamed says:

      I'm sure Pam Anderson appreciates your endorsement  kiss of death.

    • BoulderPatentGuy says:

      Isn't Pam Anderson a Republican?  If so, wouldn't simply being a member of the GOP also alienate 50% of the electorate under your reasoning above, which is what we have now?  I'd rather see an argument of why Pam Anderson would do a better job at SoS in CO as compared to our current SoS.  I can't help it if some people can't support policies from an opposing party even if they would support the same policies from the party they're a member of.  I'm not for a one-party system, unlike many on the (increasingly large) fringes of the left & right.

      • kwtree says:

        Pam Anderson would have done the S o S job competently, as she did as an election clerk. However, she would not be better than our current superstar, Jena Griswold, who has spoken eloquently for Colorado's fair and accessible election system. That would be a bridge too far for Anderson, who couldn't even manage an unequivocal " No, the 2020 election was not stolen from Trump" statement.

      • Gilpin Guy says:

        I find the 50% a hoot.  Try 25% based on 2022 voter registrations.  That number is also inflated because not all Republicans are bat shit crazy conspiracy believers.  20% might be closer to Moldy's discontented few which means 80% of the voters are OK with well run elections in Colorado.

  2. Republican 36 says:

    Jena Griswold doesn't leave "half the voters out in the cold." She has done all she can to protect the integrity of our elections from the kind of "monkeying" that the likes of Tina Peters and the clerk and recorders of Elbert and Douglas counties tried. Whats wrong with that? She is an ambitious politician, many are, but she deserves reelection for protecting our elections.

    • JohnInDenver says:

      Tell ya what, Moderatus … I hope you can convince Republican and Unaffiliated voters who choose to drop in a Republican ballot by June 28 to back Pam Anderson rather than the indicted and job-restricted Tina Peters in the primary [or what’s his name, the other candidate on the Rep. primary ballot].  

      My totally unscientific guess is Peters wins by at least 20% and probably cracks 50% in the 3-way race. Perhaps ColoradoPols will modify the Sec of State “who wins” poll to a range, allowing us to see the proportion people expect for each candidate.

      In the very, VERY unlikely event of Anderson winning, I’ll listen to Anderson and Griswold debate, carefully weighing which one will conduct ALL the business of the Secretary of State’s office better, with a particular interest in their plans for an election. I’ll even consider which of them is more likely to “leave … voters out in the cold.”

  3. Gilpin Guy says:

    I have to wonder how long this political position stays at CU.  It is obviously a complete embarrassment to the university.

  4. janesbenth says:

    As an extremely fun trick-taking game, Euchre captivated me from the first play. Have you ever played this hot game? 

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