Reprinted with permission from AlterNet
Attorney John C. Eastman, who wrote a memo outlining a scheme to help former President Donald Trump overturn the 2020 election results, is among the Trump allies who has been subpoenaed to testify before House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s select committee on the January 6 insurrection. But Eastman, Politico’s Kyle Cheney reports, is refusing to testify, and he explained his decision in a letter to the committee.
In the letter, which was dated December 1 and addressed to Democratic Rep. and select committee chair Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, Eastman’s attorney Charles Burnham wrote, “Dr. Eastman hereby asserts his Fifth Amendment right not to be a witness against himself in response to your subpoena.”
The Fifth Amendment protects the constitutional right not to be forced to incriminate oneself. While it is commonly invoked in criminal trials, it is far less common for it to be invoked in congressional investigations of the president and his aides. And Eastman isn't the first in this case to invoke the Fifth — former Trump DOJ official Jeffrey Clark has likewise expressed his intent to do so.
Burnham went on to say, “Members of this very Committee have openly spoken of making criminal referrals to the Department of Justice and described the Committee’s work in terms of determining ‘guilt or innocence.’ Dr. Eastman has a more than reasonable fear that any statements he makes pursuant to this subpoena will be used in an attempt to mount a criminal investigation against him.”
Eastman’s refusal to testify is drawing plenty of reactions on social media. Attorney Max Kennerly observed:
1) It's fine to assert your rights. Even innocent people have good reason to take the Fifth.\n\n2) Unless you're a juror in a criminal trial, it's also fine to draw reasonable inferences from that silence. It's meaningful that one of the architects of January 6 refuses to testify.https://twitter.com/kyledcheney/status/1466816276777639938\u00a0\u2026— Max Kennerly (@Max Kennerly) 1638552437
Luke Zaleski, legal affairs editor at Conde Nast, tweeted:
We\u2019re living through an endless cycle of republican abuse of power and obstruction of justice that has seen two impeachments and an ongoing insurrection so far. There is no end, no bottom, they simply will not comply with the imperatives of government or institutions of justice— Luke Zaleski (@Luke Zaleski) 1638552896
Here are some more reactions posted on Twitter:
Almost as if trying to overturn a legitimate democratic election is illegal...— Alan Wingender (@Alan Wingender) 1638551305
surprise, surprise, surprisehttps://twitter.com/ElectionLawBlog/status/1466836841085112320\u00a0\u2026— Rick Hasen (@Rick Hasen) 1638556189
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