A former lawyer for Donald Trump who authored a controversial memo on overturning the 2020 election is suing the House committee investigating the Capitol riot and Verizon.
John Eastman, who spoke to the crowd of Trump supporters who went on to storm the Capitol on Jan. 6, is suing for an injunction that would quash the committee’s subpoena for his phone and prevent Verizon from releasing data from it to lawmakers. He’s also asking a court to weigh in on another branch of government and rule that the committee itself is “constituted in violation of House Rules.”
The suit comes just a day after damning texts emerged from the committee’s investigations. Fox News stars like Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham begged then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows to push former President Donald Trump to make a statement condemning the violence in the Capitol building. Donald Trump Jr. did as well. Instead, Trump said to the rioters, “We love you.” The Fox hosts and Trump Jr. would go on to downplay the violence of Jan. 6 and the efforts to probe it.
Meadows himself has sued House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and the House Select Committee to avoid testifying despite already having handed over thousands of pages of documents and text messages. Though he had agreed to testify just a week before he filed suit, he changed his mind, and now the committee is pursuing contempt of Congress charges against him, which could carry jail time. Trump’s former chief strategist Steve Bannon is likewise charged with contempt for refusing to testify.
Eastman argues the Capitol riot committee’s subpoena would compromise privileged information he has shared with his clients and would violate the First and Fourth Amendments. He also attacked the legitimacy of the committee itself and its “highly partisan membership” and “lack of validly appointed minority members” in the suit. His attorneys argue the committee is “attempting to exercise a law enforcement function, rather than a genuine legislative activity.”
Eastman wrote the memo that outlined the mechanism Trump came to believe would keep him in power despite Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 election. Eastman said then-Vice President Mike Pence could keep Trump in office by refusing to certify the election when Congress gathered to certify the election on Jan. 6.
After Oval Office meetings between Eastman, the president, and the VP, Pence refused to follow that plan and certified the election results showing that Biden had won, and Trump had lost, the election.