National Security

California seeks disbarment of Eastman following Trump memo

The California State Bar is seeking disbarment of attorney John Eastman, who crafted memos for the Trump campaign encouraging Vice President Mike Pence to buck his ceremonial duty to certify the 2020 election results.

Eastman crafted two memos for the Trump campaign outlining strategies for reversing then-President Trump’s loss to President Biden, including another encouraging states to certify Trump’s loss as a victory.

The filing notice for disciplinary charges points to false statements regarding voter fraud and his comments at the rally near the White House on Jan. 6 as the basis for the disbarment.

“The 11 charges arise from allegations that Eastman engaged in a course of conduct to plan, promote, and assist then-President Trump in executing a strategy, unsupported by facts or law, to overturn the legitimate results of the 2020 presidential election by obstructing the count of electoral votes of certain states,” the State Bar of California wrote in a press release announcing the move.

Eastman has since March of last year been under investigation by the State Bar, which is a regulatory agency housed within the California Supreme Court. The charges against him will now be heard in disciplinary proceedings, at which point California’s State Bar Court will determine whether to revoke his law license. 

An attorney for Eastman said he stands by his legal advice and that he was being targeted by the bar for providing legal advice they may disagree with.

“Any lawyer engaged to provide his or her legal assessment in a dynamic, consequential, and often emotional arena should be deeply troubled by the notion that a licensing authority (bar) can take their license if they do not like the lawyer’s advice, or find the advocacy distasteful,” attorney Randall Miller said. 

“The foundation of any engagement is that the lawyer shall protect the client’s interests, at every turn. This is includes raising all viable options. The attorney’s role is as an advisor, the client as the decider.” 

Eastman was subpoenaed by the House Jan. 6 committee early into its investigation and challenged the compulsion for documents and testimony, teeing up a case that would result in a key ruling.

Judge David Carter ruled that Eastman’s work for the Trump campaign could not be protected through attorney-client privilege, determining he more likely than not engaged in criminal activity in seeking to unwind the election, invalidating the protections of the privilege.

The bar also cites Eastman’s Jan. 6 speech as a factor, noting his comments around fraud shortly before a mob of pro-Trump supporters descended on the Capitol.

“Eastman knew, or should have known, that the factual premise for his proposals―that massive fraud was at play―was false, and that Trump had lost his bid for re-election,” a statement by the association said.

“Eastman ignored these truths when he spoke at the ‘Save America March’ on January 6, 2020, inciting the crowd to take action when, with the intent to convince them that the outcome of the presidential election had been affected by fraud, he said that ‘dead people had voted’ in the presidential election, that Dominion voting machines had fraudulently manipulated the election results, and that Vice President Pence did not deserve to be in office if he did not delay the counting of electoral votes. These statements contributed to provoking the crowd that participated in the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol that occurred after the rally,” the association concluded.

Eastman is one of several lawyers associated with the Trump campaign to face repercussions for their false statements relating to voter fraud.

Former Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani has already had his law license temporarily suspended in New York, while the bar association disciplinary panel in D.C. has likewise forwarded a finding that could result in the loss of his law license in the nation’s capital.

Those matters cited Giuliani submitting lawsuits based on faulty claims of election fraud.

And Texas authorities are also still mulling whether to disbar Sidney Powell, another attorney who aided in Trump’s efforts after he lost the 2020 election.

Eastman, a former professor at Chapman University, has previously defended his actions.

“Every statement I have made is backed up with documentary and/or expert evidence, and solidly grounded in law,” he wrote in a statement in January of last year announcing his retirement amid pushback from university colleagues.

“I participated in a peaceful rally of nearly [half a] million people, two miles away from the violence that occurred at the capital [sic] and which began even before the speeches were finished.

Updated at 6:38 p.m.

Tags Donald Trump Jan. 6 Capitol riot Joe Biden John Eastman John Eastman Mike Pence

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