On Saturday, CNN host Michael Smerconish confronted John Eastman, who had been a lawyer for previous President Donald Trump in among his claims associated with the election results, inquiring about prompting rioters who stormed the Capitol on January 6, which caused the 5 people’s deaths.

In the tense exchange, Eastman, who spoke at the January 6 “Conserve America” rally, told Smerconish there was not a connection between the protesters he addressed and the rioters who breached the Capitol.

Smerconish inquired about language that Eastman and Rudy Giuliani, another of Trump’s lawyers, used during the rally, and about his duty in the rioters’ attack on the Capitol. He played a clip of Eastman telling rally-goers, “This is larger than President Trump. It is the really essence of our republican type of federal government, and it has to be done, and any person who is not happy to stand up to do it, does not be worthy of to be in the office.” Eastman had seconds before insisted that Vice President Mike Pence “let the legislatures of the state[s] check out this so we get to the bottom of” whether elections had been certified unlawfully.

Smerconish, after validating that a person of individuals Eastman was describing in the video was Pence, then showed a clip of rioters shouting, “Hang Mike Pence.” The host asked if there was any connection between his words and those shouted at the Capitol. Eastman denied responsibility, in part by keeping in mind the range between the rally and the Capitol, though rioters could naturally enjoy the rally speeches on their mobile phones.

” That was two miles away. To make that causal connection, you have actually got to show that any of those people had anything to do with hearing my statement two miles away in front of the ellipse, but I’m not gon na let you get away with taking that out of context. What was said … instantly before that statement you’ve now read and after that played? It was that Pence would’ve been asked by legislatures merely to postpone the procedures enough so that those legislatures can identify whether their unlawfully licensed electors should nonetheless stand. That’s what we were talking about. Do not take it out of context to make it appear as if I was saying something I was not,” Eastman responded.

Smerconish asked if those who stormed the Capitol comprehended the point about electors that he indicated. “Individuals that stormed the Capitol were not in the earshot of what I stated. Yes, it was understood by the … individuals on the shopping mall up at the White Home,” Eastman said prior to trying to discuss his stance on electors again.

Eastman called for those who did storm the Capitol to be brought to justice. “What took place at the Capitol was a travesty, and everyone that involved in breaching that Capitol ought to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law,” he said. “It ought not to apply to people who were in harmony expressing their views that something was wonky and incorrect with this election, and we should get to the bottom of it.”

Eastman concluded by worrying the value of fair elections and ensuring that state laws weren’t violated. At this, Smerconish replied, “As my parents raised me: time and a location, time and a location, which was not the function of the Congress on January the 6th.”

Previously in the interview, the CNN host asked if Eastman or other rally speakers knew that those attending would attack the Capitol. Eastman said the rally-goers were not part of the attack that was going on in the Capitol, which had already begun prior to the speeches at the ellipse in front of the White House had even concluded,” he said.

When Smerconish explained that the two remained in strolling in distance of each other, Eastman requested evidence of protesters signing up with the riot and accused the host of assuming. The host reworded his concern to be more all-encompassing, and Eastman said militias and Antifa were organizing unbeknownst to those involved in the rally.

” What we’ve gained from The Washington Post just two days earlier was that there was a para-military group, in addition to Antifa groups, that were organizing [storming the Capitol] 3 to four days ahead of time. We had no understanding of that,” he said.

Regardless of some conspiracy theorists sharing the concept that Antifa members posing as Trump supporters were in fact the ones attacking the Capitol, the FBI stated on January 8 that it had no evidence of that. When requested for members of Antifa that had been apprehended in relation to the riots, Eastman appeared to reference one left-wing activist who was detained in relation to the riot.

CNN political pundit Sophia A. Nelson criticized Smerconish for having Eastman on the program at all in a tweet.

Newsweek reached out to the Claremont Institute, a conservative think thank which Eastman is a member of, for remark.

Donald Trump Save America Rally Capitol Riots
Supporters of President Donald Trump flock to the National Mall for the rally preceding the fatal Capitol riot on January 6 in Washington, D.C.
Samuel Corum/Getty



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