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CEDAR RAPIDS — Sen. Chuck Grassley, who was president pro tempore of the U.S. Senate in January, said Wednesday he had no knowledge of legal arguments advanced by associates of former President Donald Trump to throw out the results of the 2020 presidential election Jan. 6.
Grassley would have presided over the certification process that day if former Vice President Mike Pence were not available. In fact, there was some confusion over who would preside after the Iowa Republican was quoted saying that he would preside because “we don’t expect (Pence) to be there.” Later, an aide said Grassley was merely explaining what would happen if Pence was not in the Senate chamber.
According to Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, Washington Post reporters and authors of “Peril” — a look at the transition from Trump to President Joe Biden — John Eastman, an attorney working for then-President Trump, wrote a memo in an attempt to persuade Pence he could overturn the election results Jan. 6, when Congress was to count Electoral College votes. Eastman’s memo indicated the vice president he could throw out the votes of seven states to make Trump the winner.
The certification process was interrupted by protesters who overran the Capitol.
Later that day, the House and Senate returned to approve the Electoral College votes, which, according to many legal observers, Congress has no constitutional authority to overturn.
Grassley was unaware of the Eastman memo, he said, and was not approached by Trump associates attempting to convince him of their strategy should he be the one presiding over the certification.
“I have not even read the story, so I don't even know what the story says,” Grassley told reporters during his weekly news call. “But the answer is no. I have not been approached in the situation as you described it.”
Later Wednesday, his staff said a search of correspondence and call records showed the senator had no conversations about any plan to reject the Electoral College results. The recent reporting on the Eastman memo is the first Grassley and his staff have heard about it, a staffer said.
Before the November election, when asked about a variety of reports that the president and his supporters were making plans for him to stay in office regardless of the outcome of the vote, Grassley said he was not concerned.
“I’m for the Constitution, and the Constitution rules. It doesn’t matter what anybody else said,” Grassley said then.
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