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The Jan. 6 committee asked Trump lawyer John Eastman about his communications with Sen. Mike Lee. Eastman took the Fifth.


Eastman authored memo claiming former Vice President Mike Pence could overturn the 2020 election

(Stefani Reynolds | The New York Times) Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, listens during a Senate Judiciary Committee business meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington on Thursday, Dec. 2, 2021.

Editor’s note This story is available to Salt Lake Tribune subscribers only. Thank you for supporting local journalism.

A new court filing from the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol contains the transcript of an interview between the committee and John Eastman, a lawyer for former President Donald Trump’s election team. Eastman authored a legally dubious memo laying out how former Vice President Mike Pence could overturn the results of the 2020 election.

In that interview, Eastman didn’t answer questions and instead invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, including when was asked about his communications with Utah Sen. Mike Lee leading up to Jan. 6. Eastman is suing the Jan. 6 committee to keep his emails private, claiming attorney/client privilege. Wednesday’s court filing is a response to that lawsuit. It claims there’s enough evidence to conclude Trump and his allies may have conspired to commit fraud and obstruction of justice.

Reporters Bob Woodward and Robert Costa revealed in their book “Peril” that Eastman sent a memo laying out his argument for overturning the election on Jan. 2. Lee was reportedly “surprised” by Eastman’s theory that Pence could set aside the results because of alternate electors put forward by a handful of states. Lee claims he made “phone call after phone call” to find alternate electors but found none.

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In the interview transcript, Eastman is asked a series of questions about his interactions with members of Congress before the Jan. 6 attack, starting with Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. Eastman invoked the Fifth Amendment. Wood then asks Eastman about his memo.

Wood: Did the Trump legal team ask you to prepare a memorandum regarding the Vice President’s role in the counting of electoral votes at the joint session of Congress on Jan. 6, 2021?

Eastman: Fifth.

Wood: Dr. Eastman, did you have a conversation with Sen. Mike Lee?

Eastman: Fifth.

Wood: Dr. Eastman, when asked about a call with Sen. Mike Lee by the National Review, you stated to the National Review that you had a conversation with Sen. Lee and that, quote, “We were working on broader things,” close quote. Dr. Eastman, what were those broader things on which you were working with Sen. Mike Lee?

Eastman: Fifth.

In the National Review article, Eastman at first claimed he “never had any dealings” with Lee, then backtracked, claiming he had no record of providing him a copy of the memo. Instead, Eastman claimed Lee called him and that they were working on broader things.

Lee’s staff did not respond to a request for comment from The Tribune. The Tribune also asked Lee’s staff if he had any interactions with the House select committee but did not receive a response.

On the morning of Jan. 6, as the attack was underway, Lee told The Tribune he had received a phone call from Trump, who had mistakenly dialed his number looking for Alabama Sen. Tommy Tuberville. Trump Lawyer Rudy Giuliani also left a rambling voicemail on Lee’s phone the night before Jan. 6, also looking for Tuberville.

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Since Woodward and Costa’s book was published, more details about Eastman’s efforts have become public. A 38-page PowerPoint document turned over to the committee by former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows provided more insight into the effort to keep Trump in the White House. A plot to send alternate electors to Washington from a handful of states won by Democrat Joe Biden has also been uncovered in the course of the investigation.

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