Grassley’s stock made significant maneuvers in the weeks leading up to January 6. The vice president — who also serves as president of the Senate — is required by the Constitution to count the electoral votes to certify the presidential election. Historically, however, this job has sometimes fallen to the “Senate President Pro Tempore,” usually the most senior senator in the majority. In 2021, Grassley held that position.
California State Bar attorney Duncan Carling pressed Eastman to answer to some of the charges against him in the Georgia indictment. For example, they grilled Eastman about his efforts to contact Eastman and his contacts with attorney Robert Seeley, one of the other codefendants in the Georgia case. (Eastman said those communications were attorney-client privileged).
And Carling probed his relationship with another Trump codefendant attorney, Kenneth Chesbro, who was the architect of Trump’s last legal strategy to try to stay in power. Chesbro wrote the memos that aided Trump’s efforts to gather false slates in the seven states won by Joe Biden and said it was important for those “accidental” voters to gather and vote on Dec. 14, 2020. The day Biden’s state certified voters cast their own ballots.
Eastman noted that he had minimal contact with Chesbro until late December, when he, too, pressed him to meet with pro-Trump “alternative” voters. “I did not speak directly with Mr. Chesbro at that time,” Eastman said.
Instead, he said, others in Trump’s orbit sent him some of Chesbro’s notes. Eastman suggested that he had never seen a keynote – a December 6, 2020 document The New York Times recently found out — until bar lawyers showed it to him this week.
Eastman’s limited contact with Chesbrough changed in late December, when Eastman, directly seeking Chesbrough’s input in the now-infamous two-page memo, said he wrote a set of options for Pence on January 6. Chesbro “added a paragraph and changed some wording” in the memo. A Dec. 23, 2020, email discovered by the Select Committee on Jan. 6 indicates Chesbro’s role in the memo.
“I’m fine with all of Ken’s corrections,” Eastman wrote in a message to Trump adviser Boris Epstein with an attachment titled “Privileged and Confidential – Jan. 6 Circumstances Dec. 23 Memo.”
In the same email, Eastman indicated on January 6 that he thought Grassley might play a role. Eastman told Epstein that he hoped “members of Congress would refrain from taking any action that might constrain Pence (or Grassley).” from asserting Biden’s power to block the election.
Carling asked Eastman whether the email suggested there had been discussions about filling in for Grassley Pence. After Eastman mentioned privilege to the subject, Carling moved on to another topic.
But the exchange underscored that there are still significant unknowns about Trump and his allies’ behind-the-scenes planning ahead of Jan. 6.
Grassley A frenzy began On January 5, 2021, Pence told reporters, “We don’t expect him to be there, and I will be the president of the Senate.” His comments prompted a rush by Pence’s staff to correct the record, and eventually a statement from Grassley’s office said the senator had been “misunderstood” and said he could fill in for Pence during parts of the day’s proceedings.
Eastman wasn’t the only one to mention the possibility of Grassley taking the helm. In a Dec. 13, 2021 email, Chesbro also said Pence may voluntarily step down from his Jan. 6 post and allow “Chuck Grassley or another senior Republican” to take over.
Eastman has taken the stand on at least four separate days in a departmental hearing that began in June but was postponed for two months amid scheduling restrictions. A Georgia indictment released last month threatened to raise California proceedings; Eastman pleaded with his California judge to delay his dismissal hearing until the Georgia case was concluded. After losing that bid, Eastman wanted to take the stand again and took a barrage of questions about his efforts and intentions ahead of Jan. 6.
Aides to Trump and Grassley, as well as Chesbro’s attorney, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.