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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Eric Herschmann, lawyer in Trump White House, is subpoenaed

Video testimony of Eric Herschmann, a lawyer who worked in the White House under former President Donald Trump, during a hearing of the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack, on Capitol Hill in Washington, June 23, 2022.

By Luke Broadwater and Maggie Haberman

Eric Herschmann, a lawyer who worked in the White House under then-President Donald Trump, has received a subpoena from a grand jury looking into activities related to the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, the latest indication the Justice Department’s investigation is intensifying, according to two people familiar with the matter.

The subpoena seeks documents and testimony from Herschmann, who had access to high-level discussions about the plans to overturn the 2020 election, including efforts to interfere with the Justice Department and seize voting machines. It was unclear which of two federal grand juries had subpoenaed him: One is focused on the Jan. 6 attack itself, and the other has been investigating a scheme connected to the Trump campaign to try to overturn the election results using false slates of electors.

Herschmann is at least the fifth top White House official who has received a subpoena to testify in the federal investigation. Others include Pat Cipollone, the White House counsel; his deputy Patrick Philbin; and Greg Jacob, the top lawyer for Vice President Mike Pence. Pence’s chief of staff, Marc Short, also has testified in front of a grand jury.

The subpoena sent to Herschmann is yet another sign of the inquiry reaching into the inner circle around Trump, who is facing criminal, civil and congressional investigations on several fronts. They include investigations into the mishandling of highly sensitive documents, overvaluing properties and his efforts to cling to power after his election loss.

The Department of Justice declined to comment.

Herschmann has risen in visibility in recent weeks as the House committee investigating the attack has prominently used clips of his closed-door testimony before the panel. Sitting in an office with a black baseball bat with the word “justice” in capital letters on the wall behind him, Herschmann relayed expletive-laced anecdotes and rebukes of the lawyers Trump had been using to try to overturn the election.

Herschmann was known for fighting back against the most-extreme plans to try to overturn the election, including at an unhinged Dec. 18, 2020, Oval Office meeting in which three outside advisers sought to have Trump direct the secretary of defense to seize voting machines to look for fraud and also to appoint a special counsel to potentially charge people with crimes.

“It got to the point where the screaming was completely, completely out there,” Herschmann told the committee in videotaped testimony. “I mean, you got people walking in — it was late at night, it had been a long day. And what they were proposing I thought was nuts.”

Herschmann described a particularly intense moment with one of the outside advisers, Michael Flynn, the national security adviser whom Trump had fired in his first weeks in office. “Flynn screamed at me that I was a quitter and everything, kept on standing up and standing around and screaming at me,” Herschmann said. “At a certain point, I had it with him, so I yelled back, ‘Either come over or sit your f-ing ass back down.’”

He said he also confronted Jeffrey Clark, a Justice Department employee who plotted to oust the acting attorney general and install himself atop the agency in an attempt to keep Trump in power.

“Congratulations,” Herschmann recalled telling Clark. “You’ve just admitted your first step or act you’d take as attorney general would be committing a felony.”

The day after Jan. 6, Herschmann said he received an unexpected call from conservative lawyer John Eastman, who had been working to keep Trump in office. To Herschmann’s surprise — even after the deadly riot — Eastman was still pushing to fight the election results.

Herschmann cut him off.

“I’m going to give you the best free legal advice you’re ever getting in your life,” he recalled telling Eastman before recommending he find a criminal defense lawyer, adding, “You’re going to need it.”

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