A Betrayal of America

Lets get this out of the way first; Speaker 1 is Charlie Sykes of “The Bulwark Podcast“. Speaker 2 is former Federal Judge Michael Luttig.

The talk and the partial transcript is about trump and the events leading up to January 6 starting 2 days before the attempt. As I read through the entire Transcript, I would call it “a “what do or did you know and when did you know it” interrogation.

“The question to be asked is could the January 6th events could have been headed off? I do not understand the complacency. ”

Even the former Judge Luttig missed sounding the alarm. The full transcript and a verbal session of this can be found here Judge Michael Luttig: A Betrayal of America.

I pulled key paragraphs together which I believe emphasize what was occurring at different times.

Charlie Sykes asking Michael Luttig to review events a couple of days before January 6

  • Speaker 2 0:03:31 And aligned most importantly at that time in our lives on the proper role of judges in interpreting the constitution and laws of the United States. To your ultimate question there, I think that it was much different than it is today to be a legal and judicial conservative. I attributed to the politicization of the law and the courts that has been proceeding apace for the past twenty five years, but that was accelerated in the past decade. And so as you know, I I’ve been trying to resist that politicization of the law and the courts for many years now, largely unsuccessfully. But this issue of the rule of law has come to a head now in America beginning on January six, twenty twenty one.
  • Speaker 2 0:04:37 If if not before, because January sixth in the events of that fateful day were an unprecedented attack if you will, on the constitution and the rule of law as well as an unprecedented attack on American democracy. Well,
  • Speaker 1 0:04:56 let’s go back to that. In fact, let’s go back a couple of days earlier because this is really an extraordinary moment and you can, you know, look back and think, okay, well, that night was a turning point. Let’s go back to January fourth two thousand twenty one, two days before the insurrection. Again, relying on what the newspaper reported, you can correct this. You were eating dinner when a longtime friend and attorney who was serving as outside counsel to Mike Pence, the vice president, called you.
  • Speaker 1 0:05:24 Telling you that another attorney was telling Pence that he had the authority to block certification of the election result. And, of course, that other attorney who was giving him that that terrible device was John Eastman who you also know because he clerked for you. And your wife turned to you and said, oh my god, you have to stop. This. So you’re at dinner and among the many good life decisions you have made, you are not a regular on Twitter, but you felt you needed to say something.
  • Speaker 1 0:05:52 Can you tell me what happened then? How that series of tweets went out that that arguably had one of the most consequential impacts on American political history over the last several years. So January fourth, you’re at dinner, you get this call, you have to do something. What happened? Tell me the story.

Richard Cullen calling Michael Luttig

  • Speaker 2 0:06:15 The best decision I ever made in my life, Charlie was marrying my wife Elizabeth. And, of course, she forty plus years later was and is today an integral part of the of this story. Elizabeth Dyer having dinner in Colorado at the time, two hours, you know, behind Washington and Richard Cullen who was a long time and to your friend called and really just to ask me what I knew about John Eastman and I told him you know, what I knew about John and thought about John. And then I asked, well, why are you calling? And he said, well, you don’t know, do you?
  • Speaker 2 0:06:57 And I said, no, I don’t. And he said, you know, John is advising the former president and the former vice president that the vice president Pence can essentially overturn the twenty twenty presidential election two days, then on January sixth. Upon hearing this, I said to Richard, well, you can tell the vice president that that he has no such power under the constitution and laws of the United States and that it would be catastrophic for America, worried to attempt to overturn the election, you know, on January sixth. Upon hearing that, Richard said, I’ve already told the vice president that that’s your view. And I said, well, okay.
  • Speaker 2 0:07:44 There’s nothing else I can do, Richard. But if there eventually turns out to be anything that you think I can do, I’m more than willing to help the vice president. And we hung up. And that’s when my wife, you know, overhearing the conversation, literally said something to the effect of Oh my god. You have to stop this.
  • Speaker 2 0:08:05 You have to stop this. This will be devastating to America. And I said, well, hon, I agree that it would be devastating, but there’s just nothing I can do. I don’t have any role. I don’t play any part here.
  • Speaker 2 0:08:21 There’s literally nothing I can do. So we spent the rest of the night with her pleading with me to to do something. And my responding to her that there’s just nothing I could possibly do. And that’s we went to bed with those pleased to each other that night to wake up to January fifth. And

Richard said, judge, we have to do something immediately.

  • Speaker 2 0:09:47 After several calls, five minutes, and ten minutes apart. I said to him well, I guess I could tweet something, but I don’t know how to tweet. And he said, perfect. You must do this immediately. And I said, well, Richard, I’d understand the gravity of the moment.
  • Speaker 2 0:10:07 But I don’t know how to tweek. And he said, judge, this is perfect. You must do it immediately. So in short, that’s what I did. You know, during those several phone calls, intermittent phone calls, I had drafted on my iPhone what I would say if I could figure out how to say it.
  • Speaker 2 0:10:31 And so once he told me we must do this, and he assured me that that that this was okay because I was skeptical. I went downstairs to my office and figured out how to tweet and tweeted what many commentators and news reports have called to tweet her around the world.
  • Speaker 1 0:10:54 A seven tweet thread that that clearly was at least heard in the vice president’s office. Have you ever spoken to
  • Speaker 2 0:11:00 Mike Pence about this issue? The vice president actually called me in the morning of January seventh, hours after he had certified the election of president Biden. Mhmm. It’s kind of an interesting quick story. My wife and I were down at the UPS store.
  • Speaker 2 0:11:20 She was mailing something, and I got a call from spam. And I never answered spam, but I I was just standing in the lobby, and so I answered it. Well, what I do answer, I never say anything. Because it usually triggers a recording. So I didn’t.
  • Speaker 2 0:11:38 Well, after, you know, a long pause, a voice came on and said, is this judge Luttig? And I said, yes, it is. And the voice said, please hold for the vice president of the United States. And I was stunned. This was, of course, unexpected.

The Influence of Luttig’s tweek

  • Speaker 2 0:12:58 Now it’s a factual matter only, and I’m not suggesting that these were the reasons the vice president called me. I don’t know those reasons. You know, at that point, I was widely recognized conservative and conservative judicial voice in the country. And
  • Speaker 1 0:13:16 that’s, of course, why it was so credible. I think my colleague, Bill Crystal, told the Washington Post that the reason you tweet was so influential was you couldn’t be written off as, you know, just a, you know, a liberal democrat or even a never trumper because you had that kind of gravitas. So you’re talking about the factual situation. Let’s just I know you probably thought a great deal about the counter factual. That if that morning, we all woke up and Mike Pence had followed John Eastman’s advice.
  • Speaker 1 0:13:44 What would it have meant for the country, for the constitution, for the rule of law? If in fact, Mike Pence would have stood up and refused to count those electoral votes.

To not decide to announce January sixth and the former president’s actions on that day is to decide.

  • Speaker 1 0:19:22 I don’t mean to isn’t getting your reaction to this because you’ve been part of, you know, the judiciary in in the legal world for for decades now. But late last year, when the former president tweeted out that we should terminate elements of the constitution to restore him to power. One would have thought that that statement alone would be disqualifying for any judicial conservative or for the the party of conservative constitutionalism of the Republican Party. Just give me your thoughts on all of that that here you have the former president, very openly saying we should terminate the constitution in order to overturn this election. And yet, the Republican Party’s still looks at him and says, yeah, if he gets the nominee, we’ll we’ll support him again for return to the Oval Office.
  • Speaker 1 0:20:11 What has happened? To conservatives and Republicans that they’re willing to tolerate that kind of thing.
  • Speaker 2 0:20:19 In another day, those words spoken by a president or a former president for that matter would be treesen like, not treason. Treason is a defined term in the constitution. Mhmm. It’s treason lied because that statement as well as January six, you know, the events inspired by the former president were a betrayal of America and a betrayal of Americans the former president and his allies, betrayed the sacred trust that had been confer upon them by the American people. As to the Republicans with large, Charlie, I don’t any longer indulge or even acknowledge the whispers behind the back that they disagree that the former president lost the election and they disagree with the former president that that January sixth was needed and appropriate.
  • Speaker 2 0:21:33 In my view, Charlie, at this point, and, frankly, long before now, to not decide to announce January sixth and the former president’s actions on that day is to decide. That you agree with the former president and with all that occurred on January sixth.


  • Speaker 1 0:23:03 wanna put words in your mouth, but my sense is that you’re not calling for Trump’s indictment, but you now believe that he will be indicted and you’ve been laying out the factors that you consider that Merrick Garland should be considering. So what should we do about this? And what does it say if the legal system does not hold Donald Trump accountable for his attempts to overturn the election and for his role in January sixth?
  • Speaker 2 0:23:29 Yes. It’s not my role, you know, to call for the indictment prosecution of of the former president, and I’ve I’ve studiously not done that — Mhmm. — as these various prosecutions you know, have come to the forefront. I have commented on what I thought was their legitimacy and their likelihood. The four in particular that I’ve commented on beginning with the most important is January sixth.
  • Speaker 2 0:23:59 The investigation being conducted now by the Department of Justice in the person of of Jack Smith for the former president’s conduct on January six. Mhmm. Second, the investigation of of the taking and retention of classified documents to more law though, followed closely by the investigation in Georgia by Fannie Willis of the former president’s effort to interfere with the election in Georgia. In twenty twenty. And last and most recently, this expected indictment in Manhattan related to the Stormy Daniels case.
  • Speaker 2 0:24:37 But I would say today, Charlie, that I would have hoped that the first of any prosecutions of of the former president would not have been either the Stormy Daniels matter in Manhattan or, frankly, the classified documents from Mar a Lago and that instead, if there are to be prosecutions of the former president, the first would be by the Department of Justice and Jack Smith, for January sixth. Yeah. I’ll go even one step further and say that if it happens to be the case, that the Stormy Daniels prosecution and the classified documents investigation are are the only two prosecutions of the former president coming out of all of his antics and that he’s not prosecuted for January sixth. I will believe that that’s a great service to democracy and to the rule of law in America.

Judge Michael Luttig: A Betrayal of America, The Bulwark. Charlie Sykes