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1/6 panel probes Trump pressure on Pence to reject election

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By LISA MASCARO and MARY CLARE JALONICK

WASHINGTON (AP) — The 1/6 committee is set to plunge into Donald Trump’s last-ditch effort to salvage the 2020 election by pressuring Vice President Mike Pence to defy historical precedent and reject the electoral count in the run-up to the U.S. Capitol riot.

With two witnesses Thursday, the House panel intends to show how Trump’s false claims of a fraudulent election left him grasping for alternatives as courts turned back dozens of lawsuits challenging the vote.

Trump latched onto conservative law professor John Eastman’s obscure plan and launched a public and private pressure campaign on Pence days before the vice president was to preside over the Jan. 6 joint session of Congress to certify Joe Biden’s election victory. A federal judge has said it is “more likely than not” Trump committed crimes in his attempt to stop the certification.

“What President Trump demanded that Mike Pence do wasn’t just wrong, it was illegal and it was unconstitutional,” Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., committee co-chair, said in her opening statement last week.

The committee will hear from Greg Jacob, the vice president’s counsel who fended off Eastman’s ideas for Pence to carry out the plan; and retired federal judge Michael Luttig, who called the plan from Eastman, his former law clerk, “incorrect at every turn.”

In a written statement to the committee published Thursday by CNN, Luttig refers to Jan. 6 as a “war on America’s democracy” and says that if Pence had adhered to Trump’s demands to overturn the election, “America would immediately have been plunged into what would have been tantamount to a revolution within a paralyzing constitutional crisis.”

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