New Eastman emails shed more light on postelection efforts to help Trump overturn his loss

Sen. Mike Lee was also contacting lawmakers in battleground states at the same time

(Susan Walsh | AP) John Eastman testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington in 2017.

A new raft of emails from John Eastman, the lawyer behind a legally dubious strategy to help former President Donald Trump undo the 2020 election, show he was urging Republican state legislators in Pennsylvania to certify a slate of alternate electors for Donald Trump. That’s the same scheme Sen. Mike Lee told former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows he was “spending 14 hours a day” working on in the run-up to the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

The emails also suggest Eastman was working with former Overstock.com CEO Patrick Byrne to keep Trump in office.

First obtained by the Denver Post, the new emails come from Eastman’s time as a visiting professor at the University of Colorado. The emails show the lawyer advising Pennsylvania Rep. Russ Diamond on challenging the state’s presidential electors. He also suggested ways for legislators to appoint an alternate slate of electors after Joe Biden defeated Trump in the state.

Those alternate slates of electors were central to Sen. Mike Lee’s effort to find a way for Congress to reject the results from a handful of battleground states won by Biden. Lee references Eastman and alternate slates of electors in a series of text messages with Meadows following Trump’s 2020 election loss.

On Dec. 4, 2020, Eastman emailed Diamond to explain how he and his colleagues could retabulate the popular vote using a convoluted process to make Trump the winner. That would justify appointing a Trump slate of electors.

“Having done that math, you’d be left with a significant Trump lead that would bolster the argument for the Legislature adopting a slate of Trump electors — perfectly within your authority to do anyway, but now bolstered by the untainted popular vote,” Eastman wrote.

“That would help provide some cover,” Eastman added.

Four days later, Lee texted Meadows about alternate electors to undo Biden’s win in certain states.

“If a very small handful of states were to have their legislatures appoint alternative slates of delegates, there could be a path,” Lee texted.

Lee claims he was investigating rumors of alternate electors before Jan. 6, which would allow Congress to reject the results from those states.

On Jan. 3, 2021, Lee warned Meadows that rejecting the electoral college results could backfire if they did not have alternate Trump electors.

“We simply have no authority to reject a state’s certified electoral votes in the absence of dueling slates,” Lee texted.

The following day, Lee texted Meadows saying he had been contacting state legislators all day and planned to do the same the next day.

“We need something from state legislatures to make this legitimate and to have any hope of winning,” Lee texted.

Ultimately Lee did not join other Senate Republicans in objecting to the election results.

It’s not known to what extent Lee coordinated with Eastman. In an Oct 2021 interview, Eastman said he worked with Lee on “broader things” postelection but did not elaborate.

Eastman also concocted a plan for former Vice President Mike Pence to throw out the results from states Biden won and declare Trump the winner. Lee initially claimed he learned of that part of the plan shortly before Jan. 6, but his texts to Meadows paint a different picture.

The newly public emails also suggest Eastman was working with former Overstock.com CEO Patrick Byrne. They contain an exchange with two Colorado business people on Jan. 9, 2021, who ask him about a theory pushed by Byrne.

“I have met with Patrick. There is huge relevance to this, and I have actually had very high-level meetings about it,” Eastman wrote.

Byrne was part of a chaotic Oval Office meeting in late December 2020 that included Trump, lawyer Sidney Powell and former national security adviser Michael Flynn. During the meeting, Trump considered appointing Powell as a special counsel to investigate baseless claims of voter fraud.

Byrne is being sued for $1.7 billion by Dominion Voting Systems for defamation for his spreading claims of election fraud.

Byrne did not respond to requests for comment.

Shortly after the election was called for Biden, Lee pressured Meadows to give Powell access to Trump, suggesting she would help the postelection legal efforts. He backed off following a disastrous press conference where Powell accused a vast multination conspiracy that included the late Hugo Chávez of stealing the election from Trump.

Lee’s office did not answer questions about which state legislators he spoke with following the 2020 election.