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'Completely damning' video of Trump ally emerges
04:05 - Source: CNN
CNN  — 

John Eastman, a conservative lawyer who helped craft a questionable legal theory that former Vice President Mike Pence had the constitutional authority to interrupt the certification of the 2020 presidential election results, has informed the January 6 congressional committee that he plans to defy a subpoena from the panel, according to a letter obtained by CNN.

In the letter dated December 1, Eastman’s attorney Charles Burnham wrote to committee Chair Rep. Bennie Thompson, a Mississippi Democrat, that answering the committee’s questions could put Eastman at legal risk.

“Dr. Eastman has a more than reasonable fear that any statements he makes pursuant to this subpoena will be used in an attempt to mount a criminal investigation against him,” Burnham wrote.

He continued: “While Dr. Eastman emphatically denies committing any illegal acts, he nonetheless has a reasonable fear that the requested information could be used against him in court.”

Politico first reported Eastman’s plan to defy the committee’s subpoena.

The committee declined to comment on Eastman’s letter. His attorney did not respond to a CNN request for comment.

Eastman confirmed Friday on Steve Bannon’s podcast that he had sent the committee a letter informing it of his intentions not to cooperate with the subpoena, citing a wide range of legal arguments, including his right to invoke the Fifth Amendment.

Bannon is also a subpoena target who is currently being prosecuted for contempt of Congress for his unwillingness to cooperate with the committee.

“My legal team put together a letter responding to the subpoena request, explaining all the reasons why I was going to assert my privileges under the Fifth Amendment, not to come testify and not to produce all these documents,” Eastman told Bannon.

The House select committee investigating the January 6 attack on the US Capitol has subpoenaed Eastman to sit for a deposition and submit documents relevant to the probe. Eastman is scheduled to appear before the committee on December 8.

In addition to not answering questions by invoking the Fifth Amendment, Eastman claimed on Bannon’s podcast that the partisan makeup of the committee and the way it was organized makes it invalid, and therefore he does not have to cooperate.

“I mean, this is the most far-reaching intrusion on First Amendment and Fourth Amendment rights I’ve ever seen,” Eastman said.