John Eastman at Trump rally
John Eastman speaks next to Rudy Giuliani, as Trump supporters gather before the insurrection on Jan. 6. REUTERS/Jim Bourg

The Congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection was told Thursday that former Chapman University professor John Eastman played a key role in convincing President Trump the election could be overturned and later sought a pardon.

Eastman, who was forced to retire from the Orange County university after the insurrection, told President Trump that Vice President Mike Pence had the legal authority to overturn the 2020 election and keep Trump in power despite his loss to Joe Biden.

Gregory Jacob, Pence’s counsel, told the committee that Eastman was the main proponent of this theory, but admitted that his plan to have Pence halt certification of the vote would violate the Constitution.

Jacob said Eastman acknowledged that if Pence followed through, and it was challenged, the effort would lose at the Supreme Court “nine to nothing.”

Committee member Rep. Pete Aguilar, a Democrat from the San Bernardino area, revealed during Thursday’s hearing that Eastman emailed Trump’s then-attorney Rudy Giuliani saying, “I’ve decided that I should be on the pardon list, if that is still in the works.”

Trump issued 143 pardons and commutations on his last night as president, but Eastman did not get one.

Eastman drew criticism before the election when he wrote a column challenging Vice President-elect Kamala Harris’ eligibility for the office due to his claim that her parents were not naturalized citizens when she was born even though she was born in the United States.

Reuters contributed to this article.

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.