Jan. 6 committee holds third hearing

By Adrienne Vogt, Aditi Sangal, Elise Hammond, Maureen Chowdhury, Clare Foran, Melissa Macaya and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 1:45 p.m. ET, June 17, 2022
39 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
2:34 p.m. ET, June 16, 2022

What we know about Ivan Raiklin and the "Pence Card"

From CNN's Zachary Cohen

Ivan Raiklin speaks at an election security seminar in New Hampshire in November 2021.
Ivan Raiklin speaks at an election security seminar in New Hampshire in November 2021. (Brian Snyder/Reuters/File)

Ivan Raiklin, the man mentioned by name during Thursday’s hearing as having posted a memo called the “Operation Pence Card,” is a known associate of former President Donald Trump’s one-time national security adviser Michael Flynn.

The memo outlined a theory that the vice president could block certification of the election results on Jan. 6.

Raiklin has worked with Flynn and a group of other former military service members to spread various unfounded theories about how the 2020 election was compromised – an effort that began weeks before Jan. 6 and continued months after. 

They have also been heavily involved in efforts to file lawsuits and audits in various states challenging the election outcome. 

Raiklin first posted the “Pence Card” document on his social media accounts in mid-December 2020. 

Trump appeared to endorse the plan, retweeting one of Raiklin’s posts about the “Pence Card” on Dec. 23, 2020.

Raiklin posted his plan weeks before conservative attorney John Eastman drafted his own memo outlining a similar plan, which was embraced by Trump despite warnings it was not legally sound. 

Raiklin served as a Green Beret and at the Defense Intelligence Agency. He has known Flynn for several years.

2:37 p.m. ET, June 16, 2022

Pence never believed he could reject Electoral College votes, former chief counsel tells committee

From CNN's Hannah Rabinowitz

Greg Jacob delivers testimony on Thursday.
Greg Jacob delivers testimony on Thursday. (Sarah Silbiger/Reuters)

Former Vice President Mike Pence never believed he had the authority to unilaterally reject Electoral College votes, Pence's former chief counsel Greg Jacob testified to the House select committee on Thursday.

“The Vice President's first instinct was that there was no way that any one person, particularly the Vice President who is on the ticket and has a vested outcome in the election, could possibly have the authority to decide it by rejecting electors or to decisively alter the outcome by suspending the joint session for the first time in history in order to try to get a different outcome from state legislatures” Jacob testified.

Marc Short, Pence’s chief of staff, told the committee in an earlier recorded deposition that Pence consulted with former Vice President Dan Quayle, who confirmed Pence’s view that he had only a ceremonial role in counting the Electoral College votes.

2:23 p.m. ET, June 16, 2022

Eastman claimed Pence – but not Democratic VPs – could overturn elections, Pence aide says

Former President Donald Trump's lawyer John Eastman said he did not believe other vice presidents, such as Al Gore after the 2000 election or Kamala Harris after the eventual 2024 election, could overturn elections — but he wanted former then-Vice President Mike Pence to do so, Pence's former counsel Greg Jacob told the Jan. 6 committee.

"This was one of the many points that we discussed on Jan. 5. [Eastman] had come into that meeting trying to persuade us that there was some validity to his theory. I viewed it as my objective to persuade him to acknowledge he was just wrong, and I thought this had to be one of the most powerful arguments," Jacob said.

Jacob said he told Eastman, "'John, back in 2000, you weren't jumping up and saying, Al Gore had this authority to do that. You would not want Kamala Harris to be able to exercise that kind of authority in 2024, when I hope Republicans will win the election. And I know you hope that too, John.' And he said, 'Absolutely. Al gore did not have a basis to do it in 2000. Kamala Harris shouldn't be able to do it in 2024. But I think you should do it today.'"

Remember: No vice president has ever tried to overturn an election using the scheme that Eastman proposed, and his theories have been condemned as anti-democratic by a wide array of legal experts.

Previous vice presidents had to preside over the Electoral College process that cemented their defeats, like Richard Nixon did after the 1960 election and Al Gore after the 2000 election and Florida recount.

2:28 p.m. ET, June 16, 2022

Ex-judge and adviser: I "would have laid my body across the road" before telling Pence to overturn election

J. Michael Luttig testifies on Thursday.
J. Michael Luttig testifies on Thursday. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

J. Michael Luttig, a former federal judge who advised former Vice President Mike Pence, said he "would have laid my body across the road before I would have let the vice president overturn the 2020 election."

"In short, if I had been advising the vice president of the United States on Jan. 6 — and even if then-Vice President Jefferson and even then-Vice President John Adams and even then-Vice President Richard Nixon had done exactly what the president of the United States wanted his vice president to do, I would have laid my body across the road before I would have let the vice president overturn the 2020 election on the basis of that historical precedent. But what this body needs to know, and now America needs to know, is that that was the centerpiece of the plan to overturn the 2020 election," he said.

Luttig said "all the players" in the effort not to certify the 2020 election results "got wrapped around the axle by the historical evidence claim by Mr. Eastman," referring to John Eastman, the conservative lawyer who helped craft the scheme to overturn the election results on Jan. 6.

He called it "constitutional mischief."

Some context: Witnesses and lawmakers are citing the 12th Amendment frequently during today's hearing and here's why: The 12th Amendment outlines the electoral vote counting process and how a president and vice president of the United States will be certified into office.

Former President Donald Trump and Eastman perpetuated a false theory that the vice president could overturn the electoral college results, undermining the process stated in the 12th Amendment.

According to the 12th Amendment, "the President of the Senate shall, in the presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the certificates and the votes shall then be counted; —The person having the greatest number of votes for President, shall be the President."

2:27 p.m. ET, June 16, 2022

Eastman realized his legal theory would lose unanimously at the Supreme Court, lawyer testifies

From CNN's Katelyn Polantz

A video of John Eastman, left, and Rudy Giuliani is projected over the committee during Thursday's hearing.
A video of John Eastman, left, and Rudy Giuliani is projected over the committee during Thursday's hearing. (Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)

The House Select Committee highlighted on Thursday how Trump attorney John Eastman knew his plan to try to block the election would fail if it went to the Supreme Court — yet the right-wing attorney continued to fuel Trump’s hope. 

"When I pressed him on the point, I said, 'John, if the Vice President did what you were asking him to do, we would lose 9-nothing at the Supreme Court,'" Greg Jacob, chief counsel to then-Vice President Mike Pence, testified. 

Jacob said Eastman first tried to say the Supreme Court would land at 7-2 in their vote, if it came to them, then admitted his legal theory would lose 9-0, Jacob said. 

Eastman's legal theory was to have Pence unilaterally decide the results of the election, the House public hearing on Thursday has explained.

Jacob previously told the anecdote behind closed doors to the House – and that testimony became a cornerstone of the House’s argument that Eastman and Trump likely engaged in planning a crime. A federal judge has agreed with their argument

2:21 p.m. ET, June 16, 2022

Texts reveal Fox host Sean Hannity expressed concerns over White House counsel resigning

Democratic Rep. Pete Aguilar, member of the Jan. 6 select committee, discussed how testimony given to the committee outlined concerns White House counsel and others had over the false theory that Vice President Pence could overturn the 2020 election results.

Fox host Sean Hannity even reached out to the White House, expressing concerns that the White House counsel would resign over the perpetuation of the false theory.

"In fact, there was a risk that the lawyers and the White House counsel's office would resign. For example, Fox News host Sean Hannity expressed concern that the entire White House counsel's office could quit — as you could see from these texts —Mr. Hannity wrote to White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows that, 'We can't lose the entire WH counsel's office. I do NOT see January 6 happening the way he has been told,'" Aguilar said.

Hannity wrote to Meadows again a few days later on Jan. 5, 2021, reiterating his concern about the counsel's office resigning.

The Fox host reached out to the White House numerous times between Election Day 2020 and President Biden's inauguration on Jan. 20, 2021, according to texts obtained by CNN that Meadows provided to the Jan. 6 select committee.

Read part of the Hannity and Meadows text exchange:

2:20 p.m. ET, June 16, 2022

Pence team reviewed every election in American history as they examined power of vice president 

From CNN's Hannah Rabinowitz

Greg Jacob testifies on Thursday.
Greg Jacob testifies on Thursday. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

Greg Jacob, former Vice President Mike Pence’s chief counsel, told the House select committee on Thursday that Pence’s legal team reviewed every election in American history as they examined whether a sitting vice president had the authority to reject Electoral College votes.

“We examined the Electoral Count Act, we examined practice under the Electoral Count Act, and critically, no vice president in 230 years of history had ever claimed to have that kind of authority,” Jacob said.

“In the entire history of the United States, not once had a joint session ever returned electoral votes back to the states to be counted,” he said.

Jacob also testified that he told Trump lawyer John Eastman, who pushed the theory, that if the vice president did have that power, it would stand to reason that Democrats would have discovered the “obvious quirk” and that Al Gore would have tried to declare himself president in 2000.

“And of course [Eastman] acknowledged Al Gore did not and should not have had that authority at that point in time,” Jacob testified Thursday.

2:25 p.m. ET, June 16, 2022

Former Trump White House lawyer says Eastman was willing to tolerate violence to overturn election

From CNN's Jeremy Herb

A video of former White House attorney Eric Herschmann is played during Thursday’s hearing.
A video of former White House attorney Eric Herschmann is played during Thursday’s hearing. (Sarah Silbiger/Reuters)

Former Trump White House attorney Eric Herschmann told the Jan. 6 Committee that conservative attorney John Eastman told him he was willing to accept violence in order to overturn the 2020 election.

The committee played video from Herschmann’s deposition where he described a conversation with Eastman about his claims that Vice President Mike Pence could overturn the election in Congress.

 “I said, ‘Are you out of your effing mind?’” Herschmann said. “That was pretty blunt. I said, ‘You’re completely crazy.’ I said, ‘You’re going to turn around and tell 78 million people in this country that your theory is this is how you’re going to invalidate their votes. Because you think the election was stolen.”

Herschmann continued by telling Eastman: “They’re not going to tolerate that. You’re going to cause riots in the streets.”

“And he said words to the effect of, ‘There’s been violence in the history of our country in order to protect the democracy, or to protect the republic,’” Herschmann said.

Herschmann���s interview was played as part of a video montage where numerous former Trump advisers said that Eastman’s views that Trump could overturn the election were “crazy” and did not have any validity.

Trump campaign spokesperson Jason Miller told the committee in a deposition that White House counsel Pat Cipollone “though the idea was nutty” and had confronted Eastman about it.

Marc Short, Pence’s former chief of staff, said that Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows told him “a couple of times” that he understood the vice president did not have a role to block the certification of presidential electors.

“I believe that Mark did agree,” Short said of Meadows.

2:18 p.m. ET, June 16, 2022

Giuliani conceded on morning of Jan. 6 that Pence did not have authority to overturn election, lawyer says

From Zachary Cohen

Rudy Giuliani speaks at the Trump rally on January 6, 2021.
Rudy Giuliani speaks at the Trump rally on January 6, 2021. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)

Former White House lawyer Eric Herschmann told the House Select Committee that former President Donald Trump’s then-attorney, Rudy Giuliani, seemed to concede on the morning of Jan. 6 that the vice president did not have the authority to decide the outcome of the election or send it back to the states.

During Thursday’s public hearing, the committee played previously unseen video from Herschmann’s closed-door deposition where recalls his conversation with Giuliani on the morning of US Capitol riot where he appeared to break with conservative attorney John Eastman on the “VP’s role.”

“He was asking me my view and analysis and the practical implications of it. And when we finished, he said, 'Look, I believe, that you know, you’re probably right,'” Herschmann said, describing how Giuliani ultimately acknowledged that former Vice President Mike Pence likely did not have the authority to do what Trump was asking.

Still, Giuliani’s conversation with Herschmann did not stop him from saying the exact opposite just hours later while on stage at the Trump rally while standing alongside Eastman.

“Every single thing that has been outlined as the plan for today is perfectly legal,” Giuliani said during his speech on Jan. 6 at the Ellipse. “I have Professor Eastman here with me to say a few words about that.”

“It is perfectly appropriate … that the vice president can … decide on the validity of these crooked ballots, or he can send it back to the legislators, give them five to 10 days to finally finish the work, Giuliani added.

Herschmann is just one of several witnesses who have testified about how those closest to Trump and the former President himself, were warned that their plan to overturn the election was on shaky legal ground but they continued to pursue it any way.