The television news magazine show 60 Minutes aired a story on CBS Sunday about the lawfare against Donald Trump’s former attorney and constitutional legal scholar John Eastman, which repeated much of the mainstream media’s talking points about his legal advice to Trump regarding the illegal activity in the 2020 election.
CBS news anchor Scott Pelley interviewed both Eastman and former Vice President Mike Pence’s attorney Greg Jacob, who has made a considerable effort distancing himself from his advice in December 2020 stating that it was unclear whether the vice president had substantive authority regarding the acceptance of disputed electoral slates.
Pelley described Eastman as a “little known law professor” until he represented Trump in 2020, but Eastman is arguably the most preeminent law professor on the right, having clerked for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, founded the Claremont Institute’s Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence, and served as dean for Chapman University’s Dale E. Fowler School of Law.
Pelley mischaracterized Eastman’s legal work. He said, “In November 2020, Eastman joined Rudy Giuliani’s effort to persuade seven states to withhold certification of Joe Biden’s victory.”
But as the disbarment trial of Eastman has brought out, Eastman provided multiple options to Trump to choose from in order to deal with the broken election laws, and when he spoke to state legislators, he explained the legal aspects involved with those various options. As an attorney, his job is to provide legal analysis, not make political decisions. A six-page memo he gave Trump began with the option of Pence counting the disputed electoral slates, and included multiple possible scenarios where Biden would ultimately win. If the vice president chose to exercise unilateral authority, Eastman said delaying the electoral count was a better option than rejecting slates of electors, which the show didn’t mention.
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