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Jan. 6 committee expected to subpoena lawyer who advised Trump, Pence on how to overturn election

Attorney John Eastman speaks before President Donald Trump’s speech near the White House on Jan. 6, as the president’ personal attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani smiles.
Attorney John Eastman speaks before President Donald Trump’s speech near the White House on Jan. 6, as the president’ personal attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani smiles. (Jim Bourg/Reuters)

The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol is expected to subpoena John Eastman, the pro-Trump legal scholar who outlined scenarios for denying Joe Biden the presidency, according to the panel’s chairman.

“It will happen,” Chair Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.) said in an interview Tuesday of a subpoena for Eastman, who played a key role in the legal operation that was run out of a “command center” at the Willard Hotel in Washington in the days and hours leading up to Jan. 6. Thompson did not provide a timeline for when the subpoena will be issued.

The committee has requested documents and communications related to Eastman’s legal advice and analysis on how President Donald Trump could seek to overturn the election results and remain in office.

Eastman told The Washington Post last week that he had not been contacted by the panel investigating the insurrection, but a person familiar with the select committee’s work disputed that claim and said investigators have been in touch with Eastman. This person, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private deliberations, added that a subpoena would be avoidable if Eastman cooperated with the committee’s investigation voluntarily. The committee is expected to issue subpoenas to other witnesses in the days ahead.

The House select committee investigating the attempted insurrection at the Capitol on Jan. 6 faces an uphill battle with former Trump administration officials. (Video: Blair Guild/The Washington Post)

Eastman confirmed in subsequent text messages late Tuesday that the committee had contacted him.

“I returned the call and left a voice message. No further contact,” Eastman added. When asked whether he planned on cooperating with the committee, he responded: “No comment.”

Eastman, a member of the conservative Federalist Society and a law professor, outlined the scenarios for overturning the election results in two memos that served as the basis of an Oval Office meeting on Jan. 4 between Eastman, Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.

In recent months, Eastman has distanced himself from the memos, telling the National Review last week that the options he outlined did not represent his advice. He said he wrote the memos at the request of “somebody in the legal team” whose name he could not recall.

But in an Oct. 7 op-ed in the Sacramento Bee, Eastman wrote that he advised Pence to delay counting the electoral votes to give states time to resolve concerns about voting irregularities.

Asked about the work of the select committee last month, Eastman defended Trump in an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network’s David Brody, saying “there’s evidence out there” to support the former president’s baseless claims of election fraud.

“There’s all sorts of evidence out there and the notion that anybody just raising these problems with the election is somehow contributing to an insurrection? Look, if in fact the election was stolen then it’s the people who stole the election not the people that are shining a light on the illegalities that occurred that are undermining our democratic institutions,” Eastman said.

Beth Reinhard and Tom Hamburger contributed to this article.