The effort to influence Pence was just one of many behind-the-scenes attempts the Trump team made before Jan.6 in a desperate attempt to overturn the loss of the 2020 election, after dozens of lawsuits were taken down. been dismissed from the courts. “Peril,” to be released Tuesday, details how Eastman’s memo was sent to GOP Senator Mike Lee of Utah and how Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani tried to convince fellow Republican Lindsey Graham of Caroline South of electoral fraud. But Lee and Graham scoffed at the arguments and found they had no merit.
“You might as well make your case to Queen Elizabeth II. Congress can’t do it. You are wasting your time,” Lee told Trump’s lawyers trying to overturn the results in Georgia, according to the book.
Eastman’s memo laid out a six-step plan for Pence to overturn the election for Trump, which included rejecting the results in seven states because they would have had competing voters. In fact, no state had come up with an alternative voters list – there were only Trump allies claiming no authority to be voters.
Under Eastman’s plan, Pence reportedly declared Trump the winner with more votes in the Electoral College after the expulsion of the seven states, with 232 votes to 222. Anticipating Democrats’ “howls” in protest against the overturning of the election, proposed the memo, Pence would instead have said that no candidate had achieved 270 votes in the Electoral College. This would kick off the election to the House of Representatives, where each state would get one vote. Since Republicans controlled 26 state delegations, a majority could vote for Trump to win the election.
The plan was first proposed to Pence when Eastman was with Trump in the Oval Office on January 4, during one of Trump’s attempts to convince Pence that he had the power to stop certification of the election.
“You really have to listen to John. He’s a respected constitutional scholar. Listen to him,” Trump told Pence at this meeting, Woodward and Costa write in “Peril.”
In the memo, Eastman went so far as to suggest that Pence take action without warning.
“The main thing here is that Pence should do it without asking for permission – either from a vote of the joint session or of the Court,” Eastman wrote. “The point is, the Constitution gives this power to the Vice President as the ultimate arbiter. We must take all of our actions with this in mind.”
In the end, Pence did not accept Eastman’s plan, concluding that the Constitution gave him no power beyond the counting of the Electoral College’s votes. He made his own consultations before Jan.6, according to the book, contacting former Vice President Dan Quayle and the Senate MP, both of whom were clear in telling him he had no authority over- beyond counting votes.
When Pence refused to intervene, Trump turned on his vice president, attacking him on Twitter even as the insurgency on Capitol Hill unfolded on January 6.
“It shows an intention, a sophisticated plan, a plan to illegally and unconstitutionally overthrow and steal the elections” of Trump and his team on the basis of false and misleading information and legal arguments, a source close to CNN told CNN. of the investigation.
“Lee’s head was spinning”
Eastman told the Washington Post that his memo “simply explored all of the options that had been offered.” CNN reached out to Eastman for comment via the Claremont Institute, where he is a senior fellow.
As part of the Trump team’s efforts to convince Congress not to certify the election, Eastman’s memo was handed over to Lee, one of the Senate’s leading Republican constitutional authors. At the same time, Giuliani sent several notes to Graham to try to convince him that the allegations of electoral fraud emanating from the Trump team were legitimate.
The memos show how even some of Trump’s closest allies balked at the steps the Trump team was taking behind the scenes in an attempt to reverse their loss to Biden. But while Lee and Graham have heard the cases from Trump’s lawyers, they have firmly rejected their claims, write Woodard and Costa.
Lee was shocked by the memo’s claims, as no state had considered, let alone proposed, other voters lists. “Lee’s head was spinning,” write the authors. “No such procedure existed in the Constitution, no past law or practice. Eastman apparently pulled it out of nowhere.”
Lee also rejected the Trump team’s arguments that it had a case to overturn the Georgia election results, saying they had to go to court.
Woodward and Costa also obtained several memos that Giuliani sent to Graham in an attempt to convince him of electoral fraud in Georgia and other states. CNN also got those ratings.
The authors write that on January 2, Giuliani briefed Graham at the White House. Giuliani presented a statistical analysis claiming that Biden’s victory was impossible, but Graham dismissed Giuliani’s evidence as too abstract. “Give me names. You have to put it in writing. You have to show me the evidence,” Graham said, according to the book.
Giuliani then sent Graham several memos and affidavits alleging fraud. But when Graham’s chief counsel for Judicial Committee Lee Holmes reviewed the claims, he found they were sloppy, bossy and “made no money,” write Woodward and Costa. “Holmes reported to Graham that the data in the memos was a concoction, with an intimidating tone and eighth grade handwriting.”
“Third year,” Graham replied, according to the book. “I can get an affidavit tomorrow saying the world is flat.”
Giuliani did not respond to a request for comment.
Trump continued to claim without merit that the election was stolen from him. Last week, he sent a new letter to Georgia’s Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, saying he should begin the process of decertifying the 2020 election.