Get Your Blood Pumping Better Than Any Dumb Workout With House Jan. 6 Committee Hearings, Day Three!

Who wants to talk about Mike Pence for two hours? Wait, come back, this is important!

No one is more appalled than we are at having to be grateful to the former vice president for saving democracy. And yet … here we are. Pence resisted tremendous pressure from the president and his wackass allies to ratfuck the Electoral College. He refused to get in the car so that the Secret Service could evacuate him during the siege of the Capitol, insisting that he had to finish the certification that night come hell or high water. And he did so knowing that it would make him a pariah within his own party and ruin his political prospects.

Today’s hearing will center on the pressure campaign to get Pence to go along with John Eastman’s coup plot to overturn Biden’s Electoral College victory by having Pence reject swing state electors. The contours of Eastman’s plan fluctuated over time. In early December, he suggested that state legislators meeting to certify the “alternate” slates of Trump electors was a condition-precedent for Pence to reject the Biden slates. By January, when that hadn’t happened, Eastman switched to arguing that Pence could unilaterally toss out electoral votes at will, thus reducing the denominator and allowing Trump to win with fewer than 270 votes. Or, in the alternative, Pence could say that there was sufficient evidence of fraud in the swing states to allow him to pause the Electoral College certification for 10 days, allowing time for the swing state legislators to meet and “certify” Trump electoral slates.

US District Judge David Carter has characterized this plan to obstruct an official congressional proceeding as likely criminal, forcing Eastman to disclose some emails and communications with Trump under the
crime-fraud exception to attorney-client privilege. And this opinion was shared by many, many people in the White House and beyond.

Here’s testimony by White House attorney Eric Herschmann, a former partner at Kasowitz Benson Torres who represented Trump in the first impeachment hearing, recounting telling Eastman, “I’m going to give you the best free legal advice you’re ever getting in your life: Get a great f’ing criminal defense lawyer. You’re going to need it.”

Herschmann is kind of a bomb thrower.
Axios reported a hilarious episode where he managed to turn Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani against each other, saying to Powell, “Why don’t you repeat to Rudy what you just told the president in the Oval Office — that he has no idea about the case and that he only just began to understand it a few hours ago.” LOL.

And, yes, we appreciate that this is at least 50 percent a self-serving effort by lawyers like Bill Barr and Pat Cipollone to differentiate themselves from the Elite Super Friends JD Esquire Green Beret Motion For Stay Task Force Derp Squad. But it does make for good TV!

In addition to video clips from Herschmann and Pence’s chief of staff
Marc Short, we’ll hear from Pence’s chief legal advisor Greg Jacob and retired conservative Judge J. Michael Luttig. Read Jacob’s statement here, via Politico, and Judge Luttig’s statement here, via CNN. Jacob and Short played a primary role in fending off Eastman, Giuliani, and Trump, while Luttig convinced Pence that Eastman’s plans were totally illegal, not to mention batshit insane.

The questioning will be led by Rep. Pete Aguilar, aided by John Wood, the committee’s senior investigative counsel.

Catch up on
Day One and Day Two at the links. And if you’re up for a bit a day drinking (and who isn’t these days?) play along with our pals (read: my other editor) at Above the Law, who has posted a fun drinking game for these hearings.


WATCH LIVE: Jan. 6 Committee hearings – Day 3

1:00 Judge Luttig and Greg Jacob got swarmed by the cameras and have now taken their seats. Committee is filing in.

1:06 Chair Thompson said “There is no idea more unamerican than the notion that any one person could choose the American.” That’s a quote from former vice president Mike Pence, with whom, Thompson says, he usually does not agree.

Thompson praises Pence for resisting pressure by Trump to overturn the election, praises his courage.

“Our democracy came dangerously close to catastrophe. That courage put him in tremendous danger,” Thompson says, adding that the danger hasn’t receded.

Turns the gavel over to Liz Cheney.

1:10 Cheney reminds the audience that during the last hearing, the committee presented evidence from Trump’s own appointees that Trump knew damn well he hadn’t won the election, that there was no fraud, that it was all a Big Lie.

Cheney stresses two points: Trump was told repeatedly that there was no legal authority for Pence to unilaterally reject electoral votes;
and, Trump did it anyway, conspiring with Eastman to commit the crime of obstruction of congress.

1:11 Cheney says, “today we focus on the earnest efforts of Mike Pence.”

Man, if you had told us two years ago that we’d be stanning for Liz Cheney and Mike freakin’ Pence …

1:14 Pete Aguilar is recognized for an opening statement. He’s shitting on Trump for “latching on to a dangerous theory and would not let go because he was convinced it would keep him in power.”

Now we’re getting video of Trump whipping up the crowd against Pence, followed by the crowd threatening to “drag motherfuckers through the streets” if “Pence caved.”

Now chants of “Bring out Pence!” and “Hang Mike Pence!”

1:17 Thompson introduces Judge Luttig, who served in the Reagan administration and was appointed to the bench by President George H.W. Bush. John Eastman (and Ted Cruz) both clerked for Luttig, who has said they are gross and full of shit.

And now Luttig and Greg Jacob, Pence’s former COS, are sworn in.

1:19 Huh, Thompson is recognizing himself for questions, not letting them make their opening statements. Okay.

Anyway, this would fall into the category of “more of a comment than a question.” TLDR, President Crimetime is SHIT and John Eastman is SHIT. LOCK THEM UP.

1:20 Well, Jacob is giving a version of his prepared statement saying that he told Pence that “there was no way that our Framers, who abhorred concentrated power” intended to give the vice president unilateral authority to reject electors.

1:23 Liz Cheney tells Americans to go read Judge Luttig’s statement. WTF? That statement is a primal scream. Let the man read it!

1:25 Judge Luttig is visibly choked up, speaking very slowly.

“The foundational truth is the rule of law. That foundational truth is, for the United states of America, the profound truth.”

Dammit, his speech was so good. And most people aren’t going to read it, they’re going to absorb this in sound bites. Ughhhh.

1:30 Luttig frames the issue as the survival of democracy, whether the foundational rule of law

“I believe that had Vice President Pence obeyed the order from his president, during the joint session of congress on January 6 2021, and declared Donald Trump the next president of US notwithstanding that then president Trump had lost the electoral college vote as well as the popular vote in the 2020 presidential election, that declaration of Donald Trump as the next president would have plunged America into what I believe would have been tantamount to a revolution within a constitutional crisis in America. Which in my view, and I’m only one man, would have been the first constitutional crisis since the founding of the Republic.”

1:33 Okay, we are on to the cosplay electors and Wisconsin election ratfucking lawyer Kenneth Chesebro corresponding with Rudy Giuliani about the scheme to substitute fake Trump electors for the real Biden ones. Remember, no state legislature actually reconvened to claw back electors, which Eastman said in November was a condition precedent to their plan. When that didn’t happen, he switched to claiming that Pence had the unilateral right to do it.

Cheney asks Luttig what he thinks of the cosplay electors.

LUTTIG: F-U-U-U-C-C-C-K-K ….. N-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-O.

(Lightly paraphrased.)

1:35 Okay, Judge Luttig talks slower than Bubba Gump. Maybe it makes sense not to let him read the whole statement, we’d be here ’til Monday.

Luttig says there’s absolutely no legal authority for Pence to count the “alternative” electors. He’d be glad to explain the historical precedent in detail if the committee wants. They do not.

1:40 Aguilar is back with committee counsel John Wood, a US Attorney under GWB, and a former Luttig law clerk.

Wood asks Luttig to explain Eastman’s BS theory about Pence’s unilateral power to reject electors.

“It was my honor, Mr. Luttig, to have you serve as my law clerk.” He pointedly does not say the same about his former law clerk John Eastman.

“There was no basis in the Constitution or laws of the United States
at all for the theory espoused by Mr. Eastman At all. None.”

1:43 LOL, Luttig is ready to throw down because Greg Jacob characterized a clause of the Constitution on the electoral college as “inartfully written.” These Fed Soc dudes are so weird.

Anyway, his point is that there was no possible room for good faith confusion, it’s crystal clear that Pence’s role was wholly ceremonial — all he had to do was open the envelopes. If there’s confusion, it’s due to the Electoral Count Act of 1887, Luttig insists.

“That was longwinded, I understand.”

Understatement of the year.

1:47 Wood turns to Greg Jacob asking about the process of researching the issue of Pence’s role in counting the electoral votes.

“We started with the text. We did not think the text was quite so unambiguous as Judge Luttig did,” Jacob said, pointing to the electoral count crisis in 1876 which precipitated the Electoral Count Act of 1887.

Let them fight!

1:50 Jacob jokes about going to Heaven to ask the Framers what they meant. Okay, fella.

Jacob goes back to praising Pence whose “first instinct was correct” that the Framers, who had just thrown off the yoke of King George, would never invest one person with the kind of authority being pushed by Trump and Eastman.

Jacob asked Eastman why Al Gore didn’t have the right to declare himself president in 2001, why the “Democrat lawyers” didn’t think of that. Eastman had no answer for that.

1:55 Time for a sizzle reel.

Marc Short testifies that he told Mark Meadows the Eastman scheme was illegal, and that Meadows said he agreed, but “Mark had told so many people so many different things” that he couldn’t rely on it.

Jason Miller says that White House Counsel Pat Cipollone thought it was bullshit and praised Pence for refusing to go along, says that everyone at the White House said Eastman and his theory were both crazy.

Erich Herschmann laughs at the idea that the Vice President could toss out electoral votes, “Are you out of your effin’ mind?” Herschmann says that he told Eastman that his dumbstupid plan would “cause violence in our streets,” and that Eastman said that was fine.

And a bunch of texts from Sean Hannity to Mark Meadows saying that the plan would never work. Because
of course Hannity was looped into internal White House deliberations.

2:00 Now we’ve got that video of Kush saying that Cipollone was just “whining” about quitting if they tried to do a coup. It does not make him look like less of a feckless asshole on repetition!

Herschmann describes a call on January 6 with Guiliani where they both conceded that, basically, the Eastman plan was mental masturbation that wouldn’t succeed in any court. Then the same day footage of Rudy addressing the crowd on the Ellipse saying that the theory was totally legally sound, and had been endorsed by none less than President Thomas Jefferson.

2:05 Greg Jacob testifies that he had an “extended discussion” with Eastman over two hours on January 5, where they both agreed that they would lose 9-0 at the Supreme Court, explicitly conceding that the theory was bullshit.

Judge Carter has noted in the case over the Chapman emails that Eastman definitively wanted to avoid the courts, because he knew they had no chance in any court in the land.

2:10 Oh, dear. Rep. Aguilar has asked Luttig a specific question, and Judge Luttig said he’d like to take a more expansive approach to his answer.

“All the players, led by Mr. Eastman, got wrapped around the axel by the historical evidence claim by Mr. Eastman. Let me explain very simply. … In short, if I had been advising the vice president on Jan. 6, and even if then vice president Jefferson, and even then vice president John Adams, and even then vice president Richard Nixon, had done exactly what the president of the United States wanted his vice president do to do, i would have laid my body across the road before I’d have let the vice president overturn the 2020 election on the basis of that historical precedent. But what this body needs to know and now America needs to know, is that that was the centerpiece of the plan to overturn the 2020 election it was the historical precedent in the years and with the vice presidents that I named. As Congressman Raskin understands well. The effort by Mr. Eastman was to drive the historical precedent under that single pristine sentence in the 12th Amendment to the US Constitution, taking advantage of, if you will, what many have said is the ‘inartful wording’ of that sentence in the 12th Amendment.”

“This is constitutional mischief.”

2:11 Dan Quayle! Drink!

Quayle was among the many, many people who told Pence that Eastman’s theories were total horse shit.

Aguilar and Jacob have a colloquy about whether Eastman thought Kamala Harris or Al Gore had the right to unilaterally reject electors. Surprise, Eastman did not!

2:15 Another sizzle reel! This time of Trump’s allies shit talking about Pence and his job. Bannon! Rudy! Jason Miller, on Fox exhorting Pence to reject electors — whom we just saw half an hour ago saying the whole Eastman plan was nonsense.

Oh, God, Operation Pence Card! Who remembers that fucking insanity?

2:20 And we’re on to the Oval Office meeting on January 4 with Pence, Trump, and Eastman, among others. Here’s testimony from Marc Short about that meeting. Eastman said that he’d prefer Pence to send the electoral votes back to the state legislature to reconsider them, but it would also be legal for Pence to just reject the swing state electors outright.

To be clear, neither of these was remotely legal.

2:23 Jacob describes multiple meetings where Eastman conceded that no judge in the country would support his legal argument. Which means it wasn’t legal advice, it was an attempt to retcon a justification for a coup.

2:25 Wood asks Jacob about meeting with Eastman and Pence on January 5 at the request of President Trump, hoping to put more pressure on the VP. The meeting took place in Short’s office, and Eastman said “I’m here to request that you reject the electors.” This was the plan he’d disfavored the day before in the Oval Office. It was the pinnacle of an autocratic seizure of power.

2:27 Jacob says that he thought he’d talked Eastman down off the maximalist position the night before, and so it kind of made it easier for Pence to say no, because it was totally ridiculous to suggest that Pence could reject electors out of hand.

Interestingly, Eastman was relying on the courts to refuse to step in and resolve it because it was a “political question.” And lest we forget, Eastman had the hotline to Ginni Thomas. HUH.

2:30 Jacob says that he thought the courts would intervene in a legislative-executive branch dispute. And if they didn’t, there’d be civil war.

“That issue might well then have to be decided in the streets.”

Jacob said “John, in light of everything that we’ve discussed, can’t we both agree that this is a terrible idea?”

Eastman could not agree.

2:35 Oh, hey! Ginni Thomas tells the Daily Caller that she can’t wait to talk to the January 6 Committee and “clear up misconceptions.”

Back to the hearing, where Jacob is talking about how many ways Eastman’s plan was unconstitutional.

Spoiler Alert: ALL THE WAYS.

“Just between us [University of Chicago Law School] chickens,” Eastman conceded to Jacob, who graduated from his alma mater, that he was tailoring his plan
not legally, but toward what would get Pence to do what he wanted.

2:40 Aguilar is describing a passage from Bob Woodward’s book where Trump says to Pence, “wouldn’t it be cool to have this power?” and Pence responds, “I wouldn’t want anyone to have that power.”

“I don’t want to be your friend anymore if you don’t do this,” Trump sulked.

Meanwhile, Eastman was still pestering Short and Jacob to get Pence to “send it back to the states.”

Then Trump put out a statement saying that “The vice president and I are in total agreement that he has the power to act.”

And at the campaign, Jason Miller was getting an earful from Marc Short about the bullshit lie that they put out there with all the crazies descending on DC. Short was pretty pissed, and he clearly thought the campaign was responsible for Trump’s lie about Pence’s position.

2:45 We’re getting video of Short testifying that he feared for Pence’s safety. And now we’re in ten minute recess.

3:00 Aaaand, we’re back! Aguilar picks up on the morning of January 6, when Trump was shit-tweeting directly at Pence, urging him to overturn the electoral vote.

Good Lord, remember when we had to follow the insanity of the president’s twitter feed every bloody day? That was horrible.

Pence and his staff had gathered in prayer at his residence. Short and Jacob were both in attendance.

Pence had prepared a statement saying that he did not have the authority to do what Trup and Eastman demanded.

Trump and his family — Don Jr., Eric, Ivanka, Kimberly Guilfoyle — were in the Oval Office as Trump called Pence.

Cut to Ivanka, Eric Herschmann, and Gen. Keith Kellogg testifying about the phone call, during which Trup called Pence a “wimp,” a “pussy,” said he lacked courage, etc.

3:05 Aguilar says that Trump edited his Ellipse speech to put in all the abuse of Mike Pence, the original draft didn’t mention him.

Cue the video of Trump whipping the crowd up against Pence, the rioters breaching the Capitol.

“Now let’s take a look at what was happening at the White House at this time …”

Oh, just Trump tweeting that “Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what needs to be done.”

Cue the video of the crowd reading out Trump’s tweet, someone on a megaphone shouting that “Mike Pence has betrayed the president,” and the crowd braying for blood.

3:10 Meadows’s aides testified that their boss went to the Oval Office to tell Trump that the Capitol had been breached before he sent that tweet about Pence.

Aide Sarah Matthews says that Kayleigh McEnany ordered the comms staff not to say anything to the media.

After the tweet , the crowd surged and Pence was evacuated from the Senate Chamber.

3:17 We’re getting video of Pence and his team being evacuated to a safe room under the Capitol, where they hid from the mob for four hours.

Aguilar stresses that the crowd came within 40 feet of Pence, and that the Proud Boys testified that they would have killed Pence (and Pelosi) if they had gotten the chance.

Trump didn’t tweet asking the crowd to leave until 4:19 pm, hours after the Capitol was breached.

Now Jacob is describing his courageous boss refusing to get into the car at the Secret Service’s instruction.

“The vice president did not want to take any chance that the world would see the vice president of the United States fleeing the Capitol. He was determined to complete the work. It was his constitutional duty. The rioters would not have the satisfaction of disrupting the day.”

3:20 Jacob describes frustration by Pence and Mrs. Pence that Trump didn’t call to check on his safety.

John Wood is circling back to Eastman, whom Jacob emailed during the attack to say, “Thanks to your bullshit, we are now under siege.” Eastman
responded, “The ‘siege’ is because YOU and your boss did not do what was necessary to allow this to be aired in a public way so the American people can see for themselves what happened.”

Eastman then pointed to the delay caused by the riot as “proof” that the Electoral Count act had already been violated, so Pence violating it
a little bit more by tossing out electoral votes would be NBD.

3:25 When Jacob showed Eastman’s email to Pence days later, Pence called it “rubber room stuff,” i.e. FUCKING CRAZY.

Cut to Pence certifying Biden’s win.

Man, it was bloody brilliant of the committee to make every character, particularly the heroes, in this drama, a Republican.

Aguilar: Mr. Jacob, how did your faith guide you on January 6?

Jacob talks about reading his bible in the basement, Daniel 6, and receiving a Bible quote via text from Pence at 3:50 in the morning on January 7.

Oh, and look who has

3:30 Back to Eastman, who pestered Herschmann after January 6 to continue the effort to overturn the election. Herschmann memorably told him to get a “good fucking criminal lawyer, because you’re going to need one.” Then Eastman emailed Rudy and said he wanted to be on “the pardon list.

Eastman pled the 5th 100 times in testimony before the Committee, and we got to see like 20 of them.

3:35 Jacob and Judge Luttig are talking about the terrible precedent that would have been set if Eastman’s plan had been allowed to succeed.

Aguilar is giving a speech outlining again that Trump knew he’d lost, knew the plot to toss out electoral votes was illegal, and launched a mob to do violence to Pence when he refused to do it.

And over to Liz Cheney to say it again, but meaner.

Cheney promises to elucidate in future hearings the ways that Trump, Eastman, and the Trump campaign pressured state legislators to “transmit materially false electoral slates … to the executive and legislative branches of our government.”

“An honorable man receiving the advice Trump received, a man who loved his country more than himself, would have conceded this election.”

Amen, sister.

3:40 Thompson is praising Jacob, Luttig, and all the good Republicans who stood up to Trump, inviting Luttig to opine on the ongoing danger in 2024.

Which is not to say that we are not grateful that Luttig is willing to say, “Donald Trump and his allies and supporters are a clear and present danger to American democracy.”

We are enormously grateful, particularly since Luttig was just about the only one of these guys willing to say it publicly in real time. Because, make no mistake, every goddamn one of them saw this coup coming, and not one of them went public to warn the American people.

3:45 Luttig warns that Trump and his minions are “exercising that blueprint for 2024 in open and plain view of the American public.” They are “candidly and proudly speaking those exact words to America.”

Thompson says they really, REALLY need to rework the Electoral Count Act to make sure this shit doesn’t happen again.

And we are adjourned!

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