The media’s normalization of Trump’s coup attempt

It comes as no real surprise that on October 2, The New York Times ran what many objective journalists and pundits are calling a puff-piece by Maggie Haberman and Michael Schmidt on Donald Trump’s “coup lawyer” John Eastman. The sub-text of the headline states: “John Eastman was a little-known but respected conservative lawyer.” Critics of the article point out that Eastman was considered as a fringe attorney not much different than Trump’s “Kraken” lawyer, Sidney Powell, or the clearly unhinged Lin Wood, not to mention the lying drunk and flatulent Rudolph Giuliani.

Eastman was the election attorney who tried to convince Vice President Mike Pence during a January 4, 2021, White House meeting that he could refuse to certify the electoral vote count as President of the Senate and toss the decision on the election to the House of Representatives and state legislatures. In such a scenario, as expressed in a cockamamie six-point “Privileged and Confidential” memo Eastman prepared for Trump and Pence, the states would either certify Trump “shadow electors” in states won by Joe Biden or the House would give Trump—with neither candidate receiving the 270 votes necessary to be elected—a majority of electoral votes.  Seven “disputed” states that submitted dual slates of electors—Georgia, Arizona, Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Nevada, and, incredibly, the overwhelmingly Democratic District of Columbia—would not have their votes counted by the House. The results in the House would have given Trump a majority of the certifiable electoral votes, 232 to 222 for Biden. Pence or Senate President Charles Grassley, stepping in if Pence had recused himself as President pro tem of the Senate, would have gaveled Trump as re-elected.

The Eastman memo was in support of a December 27, 2020, lawsuit filed by Representative Louie Gohmert (R-TX), who once accused Attorney General Eric Holder of “disparaging my asparagus,” to declare the Electoral Count Act of 1877 unconstitutional. The law provides for the Vice President’s ceremonial duty in counting and reporting on the results of the Electoral College vote. The lawsuit argued that Pence had the authority to reject any and all electoral vote certifications unilaterally. The Gohmert lawsuit was rejected by the U.S. District Court for the Fifth District and the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Eastman’s scenario of the steps Trump could take to ensure his rubber-stamped re-election by Republicans in Congress, aided and abetted by other Republicans in the five state legislatures that they controlled—Georgia, Arizona, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania—was part and parcel of the coup attempt. None of the proposed actions would have been constitutional, so the Times reporters’ belief that Eastman represented some sort of mainstream conservative viewpoint was so far out in right field it was no longer even in the stadium of legitimate constitutional discourse.

For example, Eastman continues to believe that the election was rigged in several key states. The recent ridiculous Cyber Ninja “fraudit” in Arizona, which severely compromised millions of ballots in Maricopa County, came to the conclusion that not only did Biden win the county but that he picked up an additional 360 votes. Eastman had also authored an article questioning the legality of Kamala Harris to serve as vice president because her parents had been born in other countries, India and Jamaica. Eastman, a member of the extremist Federalist Society, has obviously never taken time to read the U.S. Constitution, which makes Harris just as eligible to serve as vice president as Mike Pence. There is more of a constitutional argument that Ted Cruz cannot constitutionally serve as president since he was born in Calgary, Alberta, to a Cuban national, who had Canadian permanent residency at the time, and an American mother who also was a permanent resident of Canada.

Eastman’s views were considered so extreme, he was sent packing as the Dean of the Law School at Chapman University in Orange County, California. He continues to be employed by the loony far-right Claremont Institute in California. Eastman was also present in Philadelphia when there were attempts by Trump supporters to disrupt the counting of votes at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia.

The Haberman-Schmidt piece practically legitimizes the attempt to have Pence delay the Electoral College final tally certification on January 6 long enough to allow new Trump slates of electors to be authorized by Republican-led state legislatures. On the morning of January 6, Eastman took to the stage on The Ellipse south of the White House to decry the election integrity and the certification that was about to occur in Congress at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue. In fact, and the Times does not point this out, Eastman was one of the seditionists who helped stir the Trump supporters in the crowd to later lay siege to the Capitol. Eastman was no different than the rostrum full of Nazi party leaders in Munich in 1923 who urged their followers to overthrow the government of the state of Bavaria. They were charged with sedition and insurrection, a fate that should also apply to Eastman, Trump, Giuliani, and others.

Eastman, in an interview with Haberman and Schmidt, stated that he would like to continue to represent Trump in court hearings related to the 2020 election. Perhaps the more poignant question for Eastman to answer would be whether he would still be willing to represent Trump in a sedition and insurrection trial, especially as a material witness to those serious criminal charges.

As for Haberman, she has always been Trump’s “go to” reporter for several reasons. Haberman’s mother, Nancy Haberman, is an executive vice president for Rubenstein Public Relations, Inc., which, in addition to representing the Trump Organization, also represented two of Jared Kushner’s business partners in the bankrupted office tower at 666 Fifth Avenue in Manhattan—Apollo Global Management and Vornado. Rubenstein has also represented News Corp., which owns Fox News.

Previously published in the Wayne Madsen Report.

Copyright © 2021

Wayne Madsen is a Washington, DC-based investigative journalist, author and nationally-distributed columnist. A member of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) and the National Press Club. He is the editor and publisher of the Wayne Madsen Report (subscription required).

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