Amid the partisan turbulence of the 2020 presidential campaign, attorney John Eastman and other strategists for then-President Donald Trump were making plans to help Trump remain in office in case he did not actually win, according to evidence being gathered in Congress.
On Tuesday, Florida burst into that picture with Eastman saying in a video that Florida played a role.
“You [the video’s audience] could also do what the Florida Legislature was prepared to do, which is to adopt a slate of electors yourselves,” Eastman said in the video, played Tuesday during the fourth public hearing of the congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the nation’s Capitol.
The video, dated Dec. 3, 2020, shows Eastman encouraging unidentified Georgia Republicans to ignore Joe Biden’s win in Georgia and cast their state’s electoral ballots for Trump, as Florida legislators were “prepared to do.” The bipartisan investigative committee is publicly presenting its evidence that Trump and his team were orchestrating a coup to keep Trump in the White House regardless of the outcome of the 2020 general election.
In Florida, the Phoenix asked press officers in the state Senate and the House of Representatives whether leaders in their chambers were aware of “discussion by or about any Florida legislators who were prepared to adopt an alternate slate of electors if Biden had won in Florida.”
“Not that I know of,” wrote Senate spokeswoman Katie Betta, in the office of Senate President Wilton Simpson. House spokeswoman Jenna Sarkissian, in Speaker Chris Sprowls’ office, replied, “Echoing Katie’s response on our behalf, too.”
Trump prevailed in Florida, unlike in states such as Pennsylvania, Michigan, Georgia and Arizona where Biden was confirmed the winner after weeks of recounts and court challenges demanded by Trump supporters. Trump lost all of those challenges by failing to produce evidence of significant errors or fraud.
Two days after Election Day, while ballots were still being counted, Gov. Ron DeSantis said on a nationally broadcast Fox talk show that legislators in those contested states were authorized by the U.S. Constitution to cast their electoral ballots for Trump regardless of what state election officials were saying about the votes.
“Under Article 2 of the Constitution, presidential electors are done by legislatures and the schemes they create, and the framework,” DeSantis said when asked by the host for his advice to fellow Republicans.
“I would also tell them, if you’re in those states that have Republican legislatures, like Pennsylvania and Michigan, all these places, call your state representatives and your state senators. And if there’s a departure from that, if they’re not following law, if they’re ignoring law, then they [legislatures] can provide remedies as well, so I would exhaust every option to make sure we have a fair count.”
DeSantis added, “I would just urge everyone, donate to the president’s legal relief.”
U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy, a Central Florida Democrat serving on the Jan. 6 investigative committee, said in an interview with CNN that testimony Tuesday from elected officials and election workers from both political parties about being harassed and threatened by “Stop the Steal” zealots should change minds.
“It really was a heartbreaking hearing,” she said. “Whether or not anybody in Florida on the Republican side has that touch their conscience and change their mind and their path is for them to decide, between them and their God.”