During a brief excerpt from her deposition played during the Jan. 6 committee hearing Tuesday, McDaniel explained that Trump called her and put her in touch with Eastman, who then engaged with the RNC about the scheme over the following months.
“He turned the call over to Mr. Eastman, who then proceeded to talk about the importance of the RNC helping the campaign gather these contingent electors in case any of these legal challenges that were ongoing changed the result of any of the states. I think more, just helping them reach out and assemble them,” she said. “My understanding is the campaign did take the lead, and we just were helping them in that — in that role.”
Eastman was providing legal advice to Trump’s allies about efforts to challenge the election. The House Jan. 6 select committee has battled Eastman in court for weeks, seeking his emails to gain insights about what advice he had been giving to Trumpworld. Eastman turned over roughly 1,000 pages of emails in April, and the committee ordered that he turn over hundreds more earlier this month.
McDaniel’s testimony before the committee helped members establish the direct role Trump played in the fake elector plot.
Even the White House Counsel’s Office felt the ‘fake electors’ plan was not legally sound, but President Trump and his allies went forward with the scheme anyway. pic.twitter.com/SFETP6asI4
During the hearing Tuesday, the panel honed in on some of Eastman’s scheming to put forward an alternative slate of electors for key battleground states. The goal was to challenge the election results in select states and have an alternative slate of electors on standby in case those legal challenges were successful.
Amid the fallout of the 2020 election, Trump’s own White House Counsel’s Office said the plan was “not legally sound,” according to the panel.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) has long teased that the committee had evidence of Trump’s involvement in a plot to supplant official electors with those who favored the former president to tip the election to him.
“We’ll show evidence of the president’s involvement in this scheme,” Schiff hinted during an interview with CNN Sunday. “We’ll also, again, show evidence about what his own lawyers came to think about this scheme.”
Part of the plan appeared to revolve around Congress and states decertifying the 2020 election results. Once the election results were decertified, the theory was that the fake slate of electors could be used to give Trump the victory.
All of this culminated with then-Vice President Mike Pence’s refusal to decertify the election on Jan. 6, 2021. A mob of angry protesters had stormed the Capitol earlier that day, but Pence ultimately participated in the certification of then-candidate Joe Biden’s electoral triumph over Trump.