Lawyer who worked with Trump to contest 2020 election pleads the Fifth to Jan. 6 committee

John Eastman.
(Image credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

John Eastman, the attorney who assisted former President Donald Trump in his crusade to overturn the 2020 election, has decided to assert his right against self-incrimination in choosing not to testify before the Jan. 6 committee, Politico reports.

According to a letter delivered to the committee, "Dr. Eastman hereby asserts his Fifth Amendment right not to be a witness against himself in response to your subpoena," wrote his attorney, Charles Burnham. "Dr. Eastman has a more than reasonable fear that any statements he makes pursuant to this subpoena will be used in an attempt to mount a criminal investigation against him."

The former Chapman University law professor "pushed state legislative leaders to reject [President Biden's] victory in a handful of swing states and appoint alternate electors to the Electoral College," and also pressured then-Vice President Mike Pence "to refuse to count some of Biden's electors" or delay long enough so states could submit new ones, Politico reports. Additionally, Eastman spoke at the Jan. 6 rally with Rudy Giuliani.

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His lawyer's letter suggests Eastman does not believe he "committed criminal wrongdoing" but is nonetheless "asserting the Fifth so that his testimony couldn't become part of a future proceeding," Politico writes.

"While Dr. Eastman emphatically denies committing any illegal acts," Burnham wrote, "he nonetheless has a reasonable fear that the requested information could be used against him in court."

Eastman is now the second known Jan. 6 committee witness to plead the Fifth, the other being former DOJ official Jeffrey Clark.

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