Speed Reads

Friends in high places

New Jan. 6 committee emails link Trump election lawyer John Eastman to Supreme Court, Ginni Thomas

John Eastman, a conservative law professor, was a central player in the unsuccessful effort to get former Vice President Mike Pence to reject valid electors on Jan. 6, 2021, and throw the 2020 election to former President Donald Trump. Eastman emails recently obtained by the House Jan. 6 committee suggest he was in contact not only with the White House but also the Supreme Court and Virginia "Ginni" Thomas, the conservative activist married to Justice Clarence Thomas, The Washington Post and The New York Times reported late Wednesday.  

Previously released documents show that Ginni Thomas urged Arizona lawmakers and Trump's chief of staff Mark Meadows to cancel President Biden's victory. The emails between Thomas and Eastman, a former law clerk to Clarence Thomas, show that her "efforts to overturn the election were more extensive than previously known," the Post reports.

The second tranche of new Eastman emails involves a Dec. 24, 2020, discussion with Trump campaign officials and Wisconsin lawyer Kenneth Chesebro. Eastman wrote they should petition the Supreme Court to hear a Wisconsin electoral challenge "not based on the legal merits but an assessment of the justices' spines, and I understand that there is a heated fight underway" in the court, the Times reports.

"I don't have the personal insight that John has into the four justices likely to be most upset about what is happening in the various states, who might want to intervene," Chesebro replied, the Times reports. "I think the odds of action before Jan. 6 will become more favorable if the justices start to fear that there will be 'wild' chaos on Jan. 6 unless they rule by then, either way."

"Chesebro's comment about the justices being more open to hearing a case if they fear chaos was striking for its link to the potential for the kind of mob scene that materialized at the Capitol weeks later," the Times explains. "Eastman's email, if taken at face value, raised the question of how he would have known about internal tension among the justices about dealing with election cases."

Testimony released by the Jan. 6 committee shows Eastman kept on trying to contest the election after Jan. 6. In one video, Trump White House lawyer Eric Herschmann recounts a Jan. 7 call in which he offered Eastman "the best free legal advice you're ever getting in your life — get a great effing criminal defense lawyer. You're going to need it." Eastman did not willingly cooperate with the committee.