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The Horrifying Legal Blueprint for Trump’s War on Democracy

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22.09.2021

In the Republican Party’s long, gradual slide into authoritarianism, a few key moments stand out for revealing the stark transformation under way. One of them is the memo written by conservative lawyer John Eastman advocating, on President Trump’s behalf, a legal path for him to seize an unelected second term in office.

The memo, uncovered by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa in their new book, Peril, is significant both because of its author, a prestigious conservative legal scholar, and the horrifying ramifications of his argument, which would have likely spelled an end to the republican form of government that has existed in the United States since 1789.

Eastman’s argument at least broadly tracks the plan embraced by Trump and the mob of right-wing supporters who stormed the Capitol on January 6. It posits that the Electoral Count Act grants the vice-president discretion over which electoral ballots to accept as part of the official count.

This is the six-point plan advanced by Trump lawyer John Eastman for VP Pence to overturn the election on January 6th.https://t.co/IkgmEuCW8b pic.twitter.com/CXWTVY1LL7

The legal merits of the argument don’t matter very much — Eastman’s interpretation is widely derided as crazy, but the key point is that even if........

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