Former Trump Attorney John Eastman defended Jan. 6 insurrectionists Friday, saying they’d unknowingly crossed police barriers, which had been hidden in bushes by “people of questionable allegiance,” and streamed into the U.S. Capitol “taking pictures like tourists.”
“There were undoubtedly a couple of players that were trying to instigate it and people paid by news organizations to get video of violence so that that could build a false narrative,” Eastman, who spoke at the Jan. 6 rally prior to the riot at the U.S. Capitol, told Colorado podcaster Kim Monson in an interview aired Friday.
There’s no evidence that news outlets paid protesters to obtain video for the purpose of promoting lies about the event — or that anti-Trump outsiders manipulated the protesters by hiding barricades.
An email to Eastman’s press office asking for the names of the news outlets was not immediately returned. Nor was an answer to the question of why Eastman thinks people of “questionable allegiance” hid barriers in bushes.
Eastman, a former visiting professor at the University of Colorado’s Benson Center for the Study of Western Civilization, has become a familiar face in right-wing circles in Colorado. He’s planning to file a lawsuit soon with other GOP activists to overturn a Colorado law that allows unaffiliated voters to cast ballots in primaries.
He’s tangled up in the Colorado governor’s race as well, because top GOP gubernatorial candidate Heidi Ganahl served on CU’s governing body while Eastman was at the Benson Center. She characterized him there as “fantastic” at the time. Democrats have called on Ganahl to comment on Eastman.
In the interview, Eastman, who devised a plan for Pence to delay the certification of the 2020 presidential election, described his experience at the Jan. 6 rally, saying, falsely, that there were “at least half a million people” there.
He said these people “watched with their own eyes something egregiously go wrong with the conduct of our election and wanted to register their protests.”
“I spoke completely unplanned,” Eastman told Monson of his appearance at the rally. “There was a gap in time. The president was delayed in getting over there, and a call came in and said, ‘Can you and Rudy get over here just to fill the gap a little bit?'”
“They had permits,” Eastman continued. “They had a parade permit to go down to the Capitol. There were even permits for a rally on the east side of the Capitol, all of it lawful. There were parts of the Capitol grounds that had been very barricaded off, as it’s no longer a public space for security reasons. The first thing that the fourteen thousand hours of video that we haven’t seen, but some of it is now leaked out. We see some people of questionable allegiance, not just remove the barriers, but hide them behind bushes so that the people, when the larger amount of the crowd came in, they did not even know they were crossing some magical line from public space to temporarily closed private space.”
“And so if there’s not a barrier announcing, ‘We’ve temporarily closed this off so that if you cross this magical line, you’ll be trespassing,’ people didn’t even know that they were doing it, and particularly the people that — doors were opened and as Capitol Police were welcomed in — they’re standing, you know, walking in line file through the cordons like tourists and taking pictures like tourists,” Easman went on.
“The notion that this was some grand interaction when there were undoubtedly a couple of players that were trying to instigate it, and people paid by news organizations to get video of violence so that that could build a false narrative. One has to ask the question who benefited from that aspect of it? And it certainly wasn’t Trump. So why would Trump be the one involved in orchestrating that? I mean, you know, everything we were trying to do, which was to get a public airing of the illegalities in the election, went out the window when that violence occurred. So why would we be the ones involved with it? It just doesn’t make any sense. And yet this is the grand narrative that’s out there.”
Listen to an excerpt of Eastman discussing the insurrection on the Feb. 11 Kim Monson Show: