- A former federal judge says helping former VP Pence was “the highest honor” of his life.
- Ex-4th Circuit Judge J. Michael Luttig spoke out to help Pence rebuff pressure to overturn the election.
- Luttig told Politico he was “floored” and “honored” to see Pence citing his legal analysis.
A retired conservative federal judge says speaking out the day before January 6 to help former VP Mike Pence rebuff pressure to overturn the 2020 election was “the highest honor” of his entire life.
Judge J. Michael Luttig, a broadly-respected conservative legal figure, served for over a decade on the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals and was twice considered judiciary for the Supreme Court during the George W. Bush administration before retiring from the federal in 2006.
Luttig detailed the play-by-play of advising the former vice president ahead of January 6 in an interview with Politico.
In the days leading up to January 6, Trump-allied figures including legal scholar John Eastman (a former Luttig clerk) pressured Pence to disregard existing federal law to unilaterally toss out slates of Electoral College votes in order to overturn President Joe Biden’s election win.
Pence’s office wanted to mount their own response, which is where Luttig came in. Luttig said Richard Cullen, outside counsel to the vice president, called him early on the morning of January 5 and said he needed “urgent” help from Luttig.
“We need to do something publicly, get your voice out to the country,” Luttig says Cullen told him.
“At that point, I said, ‘Oh my gosh, Richard, I don’t even have a job, much less an official one. I have no platform from which to speak.’ I’m out here in Colorado at 6 in the morning. I don’t even have a fax machine,” Luttig recalled to Politico.
Luttig did, however, have a Twitter account. Luttig asked his son, who works in tech, to help him to tweet out some legal analysis. His son, Luttig said, initially told him he didn’t have time to help him — until Luttig told his son he’d cut him off out of his will if he didn’t help him figure out how to tweet a thread.
“The only thing I knew how to do was type out in prose all I wanted to say. Well, that was like 10 tweets,” Luttig said. “So I go down to my office, and I open up the [Twitter] instructions on my laptop and I copy and paste what I’ve written on my iPhone into my laptop into a Word document, and then I set about to divide it up into 180-character tweets. I read it and reread it multiple times and then, I take a deep breath and I hit ‘tweet.'”
Luttig’s January 5 Twitter thread began with: “The only responsibility and power of the Vice President under the Constitution is to faithfully count the electoral college votes as they have been cast.”
“The Constitution does not empower the Vice President to alter in any way the votes that have been cast, either by rejecting certain of them or otherwise,” he added.
Luttig’s Twitter misses immediately gained attention from the political press. But he told Politico that he only found out that anything more had come out of his Twitter thread from the day before on the morning of January 6.
Two of Luttig’s former law clerks emailed to tell him that Pence had cited those tweets in his open letter explaining why he wouldn’t attempt to overturn the 2020 election results at the Joint Session of Congress, which Pence released as he headed to the Capitol to preside over the Joint Session.
“That’s the first time that I ever knew what was to happen with the tweet from the day before,” Luttig said. “No one had ever told me that. I had no idea. And they obviously didn’t want and didn’t intend to tell me — and that’s fine; it’s none of my business. I was floored to read that and honored.”
Luttig said the next day, January 7, he was at a UPS store in Vail, Colorado waiting to drop off packages when he got what appeared to be a spam call. “I never answer spam calls, but I had nothing else to do,” he explained.
The voice on the other end asked if he was Judge Luttig — and told him to hold for the Vice President.
Luttig said Pence got on the line, he was “the most gracious person in the world” on the call.
“I scurried out to the car so I’d have some privacy,” he said. “The vice president got on: ‘Judge, this is Mike Pence.’ And I said to the vice president that it was the highest honor of my life that he had asked me and I will be grateful to him for the remainder of my life.”