Former federal Judge Michael Luttig has stark message for Jan. 6 committee

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Retired federal Judge J. Michael Luttig, a staunch conservative long admired by many Republicans, will testify before the House’s Jan. 6 committee on Thursday with an urgent and stark message for the panel about former President Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election: “America’s democracy was almost stolen from her.”

Boeing Executive Departs
FILE – In this 2016 file photo J. Michael Luttig of Boeing speaks at the Florence Civic Center during the Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce annual membership luncheon in Florence, S.C. 

Joe Perry/The Morning News via AP


Luttig will also likely state that the Republican National Committee is wrong to have referred to some of the events of Jan. 6, 2021 as “legitimate political discourse” and warn fellow conservatives to not ignore the gravity of what Trump did as he scrambled to hold onto the presidency that day. 

The retired judge’s planned remarks were confirmed to CBS News by two people familiar with his expected testimony who were not authorized to discuss details of the hearing. 

He will also reveal how he advised then-Vice President Mike Pence to resist Trump’s pleas for Pence to block the congressional certification of Joe Biden’s election victory. 

One person familiar with Luttig’s planned testimony said he sees his appearance before the committee as a serious and sobering moment similar to an appearance before the U.S. Supreme Court. 

Pence’s lawyers and aides reached out to Luttig ahead of the congressional certification, seeking his guidance and a conservative imprimatur on Pence’s decision. Luttig ended up briefly serving as an informal, outside adviser to the vice president’s team. 

Luttig’s role in that episode drew the interest of the committee. He has long said he would be willing to share his story and his perspective on the state of the GOP and of American democracy. 

“If invited by the Congress, I would of course be glad to testify,” Luttig told CBS News in April. 

Pence’s former counsel, Greg Jacob, will also testify before the committee on Thursday. Both Jacob and Luttig counseled Pence to avoid doing anything to rupture the congressional certification of the election — and to disregard advice from conservative lawyer and Trump ally John Eastman, a former Luttig clerk. 

Eastman authored a two-page memo, embraced by Trump, which argues that the vice president could take steps to delay the certification and allow for states to send alternate slates of electors for consideration by Congress. 

A federal judge recently ordered Eastman to turn over 159 documents to the House select committee. 

U.S. District Judge David O. Carter, who has been overseeing the records dispute between Eastman and the House panel, said the latest tranche to be disclosed is not covered by attorney-client privilege or protected work product, as the conservative lawyer asserted. The 159 documents were part of a broader batch of nearly 600 documents that Eastman fought to shield from the committee. Carter said 440 of them were privileged and protected from disclosure.

Melissa Quinn contributed to this report.

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