The lawyer who convinced Donald Trump he could overturn the 2020 presidential election recounted the moment in the Oval Office when Mike Pence tried to derail the former president’s worst instincts in an interview with The New York Times published Saturday. John Eastman crafted the two-page legal memo spelling out how former Vice President Mike Pence could refuse to certify the results of the 2020 presidential election, thus extending Trump’s power. Eastman described a meeting with both Trump and Pence to the Times: “What we asked [Pence] to do was delay the proceedings at the request of these state legislatures so they could look into the matter… My sense was he knew an irretrievable break with Trump was about to come, and he was trying to delay that uncomfortable moment for as long as he could.”
Eastman said he told Pence the vice president had the power to delay the certification of the election, but a source close to Pence told the Times that Eastman said Pence did not. When John Eastman first met Donald Trump’s aides in Philadelphia the weekend after the election, he caught COVID-19 from them in just 15 minutes, according to the Times. Eastman also reportedly told Trump he could suspend birthright citizenship, barring children born to non-citizens on American soil from claiming U.S. citizenship, according to the Times. He later admitted to then-Attorney General William Barr that his idea stood on tenuous legal ground.