A day after the Capitol riot, a White House attorney said he warned a Trump-allied lawyer that he should get a criminal defense attorney over his efforts to fight the Georgia election results, according to a video clip released Tuesday by the Jan. 6 committee.
Eric Herschmann, who at the time worked for the White House, said John Eastman contacted him and started asking about the election results in Georgia, one of the states narrowly won by President Joe Biden that former President Donald Trump sought to overturn.
“He started to ask me about something dealing with Georgia, preserving something, potentially for appeal,” Herschmann says in video of his testimony to the Jan. 6 committee. “And I said to him, are you out of your f’ing mind? Right? I said I only want to hear two words coming out of your mouth from now on, ‘orderly transition.’”
Herschmann said he asked Eastman to repeat the two words, later adding: “Now I’m going to give you the best free legal advice you’re ever getting in your life: Get a great f’ing criminal defense lawyer. You’re gonna need it.”
NBC News has reached out to Eastman for comment.
The video clip was introduced by the House committee’s vice chair, Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., who said the panel on Thursday will examine how Trump “plotted” with Eastman and others to overturn the 2020 election, in addition to “President Trump’s relentless effort on January 6th, and in the days beforehand, to pressure Vice President Pence to refuse to count lawful electoral votes,” an effort she said likely violated two federal criminal statutes.
The mention of possible criminal violations comes a day after Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., appeared to take his colleagues by surprise by saying the panel would not be making any criminal referrals. Other committee members said a decision had not yet been made, and Thompson appeared to walk back his remarks on Tuesday.
Earlier this month, a federal judge ordered Eastman to turn over about 170 documents to the Jan. 6 committee. Eastman wrote memos arguing Pence could overturn the 2020 election.
Zoë Richards is the evening politics reporter for NBC News.