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Trump attorney John Eastman's own think tank just published a book review ripping his memos about how Pence could have kept Trump in power

Dec 3, 2021

Within weeks of January 6, the conservative legal scholar John Eastman began to pay a price professionally for emerging as a key figure in then-President Donald Trump's last-ditch bid to remain in power. In the face of protests that he helped incite the Capitol attack, he resigned from Chapman University in California and was barred by the University of Colorado from speaking as a representative of the Benson Center for the Study of Western Civilization, where he was a visiting professor. It left Eastman with one last official role: senior fellow at the Claremont Institute, a conservative think tank in Southern California. But even that think tank has now contributed to the chorus of criticism. A book review published by the Claremont Institute recently published a "critique" of memos Eastman prepared laying out steps that then-Vice President Mike Pence could take in January to keep Trump in office. Eastman's memo was obtained by CNN in September after first coming to light in "Peril," a book by the Washington Post's Bob Woodward and Robert Costa. In the article , titled "A Critique of the Eastman Memos," Claremont McKenna College professor Joseph Bessette ripped Eastman's assertion that Pence could have intervened to keep Trump in power by delaying the January 6 certification of now-President Joe Biden's victory. A response from Eastman accompanied the article. Bessette focused on a passage in Eastman's memo laying out a scenario in which Pence would reject disputed electors, with the remaining votes giving Trump a majority. "It is hardly a surprise that this paragraph set off alarms in the media, and has been the focus of intense criticism from legal scholars and others," Bessette wrote. "One doesn't have to be a scholar of the American Founding, a professor of constitutional law, or an expert in election law to know that this simply cannot be right," he added. Bessette, whose college is not affiliated with the Claremont Institute, declined to comment. His article was featured on the cover of the latest issue of the Claremont Review of Books. Eastman has met substantial scrutiny as new details have emerged about Trump's final weeks in the White House, a period in which the president pressured the Justice Department to advance his baseless claims of election fraud and find ways to reverse his defeat to Biden. Prominent lawyers have called for the state bar of California to mount a professional misconduct investigation into Eastman, and the House committee investigating the January 6 attack on the Capitol subpoenaed him to testify and turn over records. On Wednesday, Eastman's lawyer responded to the committee saying that he would invoke his 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination, Politico reported . Amid that scrutiny, the Claremont Institute has defended Eastman. Bessette criticized the think tank for taking that approach. "Because I am a constitutionalist and a political conservative, it particularly pains me that the Claremont Institute, whose vital mission it is 'to restore the principles of the American Founding to their rightful, preeminent authority in our national life,' has, with its public statement of October 11, basically circled the wagons, blaming 'disinformation,' 'almost universally false news accounts,' 'deliberate misrepresentations,' and 'false and slanderous statements' for the controversy that followed the release of the memos," he wrote. Eastman declined a request from Insider to comment on the article. In his published response, Eastman addressed Bessette's criticism of the Claremont Institute's continued defense of a lawyer whose memos have been condemned as a blueprint for a coup. "While I certainly appreciate the Institute's ongoing support, I would hope that giving me a platform to defend my views is not based on some undue sense of loyalty, for I would neither ask for nor deserve such loyalty if I had sought to overthrow the legitimate government of the United States, as I have been falsely accused of doing," he wrote. "As I have previously noted, trying to prevent illegal conduct from deciding an election is not a 'coup.'" Sign up for notifications from Insider! Stay up to date with what you want to know. Subscribe to push notifications

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