Former Chapman law dean John Eastman pushes for big money to help defense

Column: The ex-Trump lawyer is trying to boost his legal defense fund. Fact-checking conservative O.C. attorney rips into his take on reality

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Screenshot of John Eastman’s GiveSendGo fundraising site

John Eastman bemoaned the “surreal, exhausting battle to defend my integrity” in a recent fundraising email, pinning the price tag for his legal defense at some $3 million to $3.5 million and politely pleading for donations.

The erstwhile dean of Chapman Law — who faces criminal charges in Georgia for trying to overturn former President Donald Trump’s election defeat, and the potential loss of his law license in California — said he faces “an onslaught of false charges leveled by radical leftwing lawyers working with lawfare groups. Tragically, many of these false charges were repeated nearly word-for-word by State Bar prosecutors and form the basis of the Bar’s prosecution against me.”

Eastman’s GiveSendGo account — whose fundraising goal creeps ever higher — has surpassed $615,000, but is nowhere near enough. “Though I have been blessed with over half a million in donations to my legal defense fund, I have already incurred legal costs of three times that amount,” his email says. “I urgently need your help to move forward with my defense.”

The pitch goes on to make factual claims that, at best, raise a few eyebrows. For a fast fact-check we turn to “Eastman Claims vs. Reality,” an entertaining, if stinging, analysis by Laguna Niguel attorney James V. Lacy.

We’ll remind you here that Lacy is no leftwing radical engaged in “lawfare,” but a bona fide conservative who served in the Reagan and Bush administrations, and as a Trump delegate in 2016. Lacy maintains that Trump would have been much better off if he never met Eastman.

‘Claims v. Reality’

Says Eastman: “This has been a surreal, exhausting battle to defend my integrity and legal actions from an onslaught of false charges leveled by radical leftwing lawyers working with lawfare groups.”

Says Lacy: “Are the charges false? The facts charged are based on his own actions, like calling Georgia legislators and trying to arrange for fake electors. They include conspiracy to commit impersonating a public officer. Two counts of conspiracy to commit forgery in the first degree. Two counts of conspiracy to commit false statements and writings. Conspiracy to commit filing false documents.

“And… are they leveled by ‘radical leftwing lawyers?’ No, plenty of right-wing lawyers are leveling the charges, including the former Reagan White House Counsel and Appellate Judge John worked for, J. Michael Luttig, and Vice President (Mike) Pence’s counsel Greg Jacob, who went to the same law school as John.”

Says Eastman: “My legal team has demolished the State Bar’s claim that there was no evidence of fraud or illegality in the 2020 elections….our team did a magnificent job and made a clear and compelling case that my representation of President Trump had a strong factual basis as well as a compelling legal basis under the law and constitution.”

Says Lacy: “This is total baloney. Eastman was never able to establish meaningful proof of fraud or illegality. To the extent there was ‘illegality’ it had to do with empowering voters during a pandemic. The law favors voting. There has never been any finding anywhere of meaningful election fraud or illegality. Eastman’s ‘experts’ at the trial almost to the person did not qualify as experts, and his top Constitutional expert John Yoo actually testified he did not agree with Eastman’s interpretation of the Constitution and that Biden won the election ‘fair and square.’”

Says Eastman: “Our team put on a wide array of credible witnesses that, for the first time, laid bare in a courtroom many of the illegal and fraudulent activities that occurred in critical states such as Wisconsin, Georgia, Arizona and Pennsylvania.”

Says Lacy: “As above, most of the witnesses were not qualified as experts because they were not. Former California Supreme Court Justice Janice Rogers Brown was not qualified as an expert and her testimony was basically she did not know him too well, met him a couple times a year at legal conferences, and had a good impression of his scholarship. Nothing about election fraud.”

Says Eastman: “I had the courage to assist President Trump bring lawful, substantive allegations of election illegality before courts and appropriate elections officials pales in comparison to what we still face.”

Says Lacy: “He lost everywhere.”

‘Big lie’

Eastman’s big lie is in the first sentence of his first, infamous, two-page memo, Lacy said: “Seven states have transmitted dual slates of electors to the president of the Senate.”

“It was not true. There were not dual slates of electors in any legal sense,” Lacy said.

“Fake elector facts: The fake certificates were created by Trump allies in Georgia, Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Nevada and New Mexico, who sought to replace valid presidential electors from their states with a pro-Trump slate, according to documents obtained by American Oversight.

“They sent these fake certificates after Trump himself failed to block governors from signing the real certificates. Specifically, Trump encouraged Republican governors in states like Georgia and Arizona not to certify the election results, and falsely claimed the elections were fraudulent. But these GOP officials ignored Trump, followed the law and awarded the electors to Biden.”

Lacy reminds us of the words of former Marine and current U.S. District Judge David O. Carter (“Based on the evidence, the court finds it more likely than not that President Trump corruptly attempted to obstruct the Joint Session of Congress on January 6, 2021″ and “Dr. Eastman likely acted deceitfully and dishonestly each time he pushed an outcome-driven plan that he knew was unsupported by the law”).

Eastman faces a slew of criminal charges in Georgia, including violating the state’s RICO Act, filing false documents, soliciting a public officer to violate the oath of office and other criminal conspiracies. He has pleaded not guilty.

He awaits a decision on charges of “dishonesty and moral turpitude” from a California State Bar judge, which may well cost him his law license. Eastman has indicated he’ll appeal an unfavorable decision to the California Supreme Court and possibly beyond, to the U.S. Supreme Court. Which, of course, would cost more money.

‘$3 million+’

“As difficult as these past months have been, it’s clear to me that what my family and I have endured thus far because I had the courage to assist President Trump bring lawful, substantive allegations of election illegality before courts and appropriate elections officials pales in comparison to what we still face,” Eastman’s email says.

“If the State Bar judge rules against me and recommends that I be disbarred, I have the right to appeal but my law license will be suspended in the process. This will cripple my ability to earn a living doing what I have loved and excelled at for decades. Meanwhile, I face a highly-partisan prosecutor in Georgia who is determined to put me in prison for years to come….

“They are trying to completely destroy me. I am categorically innocent of all the charges against me and I am doing everything in my power to defend myself and expose the truth.”

Eastman said he’s $1 million in the hole, on top of what the legal defense fund has covered, and needs another $1 million by February to defend himself in Georgia.

“My wife and I have worked hard all our lives to earn a middle-class living for our family. We have no way to handle the $3 million+ in legal expenses that this lawfare assault will cost. We’re completely dependent on the generosity of people of good will like you to help,” it says.

Click here to read the full article at the OC Register

No easy path to get Trump off the ballot

U.S. Supreme Court will almost certainly review ruling barring ex-leader from Colorado primary

DONALD Trump speaks on Jan. 6, 2021. The Colorado Supreme Court ruled his actions on this day amounted to engaging in insurrection. (Mandel Ngan AFP/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON — The argument that the 14th Amendment to the Constitution bars Donald Trump from the ballot has rapidly gone from obscurity to the top of the political agenda.

In August, when I wrote about why the 14th Amendment needed to be taken seriously and how it had the potential to upend the 2024 presidential campaign, a lot of people doubted the issue would get traction.

Now, it’s about to land at the U.S. Supreme Court. Within the next couple of weeks, the justices almost certainly will announce that they’ll review Tuesday’s Colorado Supreme Court ruling barring Trump from the state’s primary ballot.

But getting to the Supreme Court may prove to be the easy part. To win the case, Trump’s opponents have to surmount some big hurdles. Perhaps the toughest stems from Congress’ failure to take action in response to the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.

The 4-3 ruling by Colorado’s highest court held that Trump’s role in the Jan. 6 attack amounted to “engag[ing] in an insurrection.” Under the 14th Amendment, that means Trump is barred from holding any federal office, including the presidency, the Colorado court ruled.

The 14th Amendment was added to the Constitution after the Civil War. Section 3 of the amendment, written to keep former leaders of the Confederacy out of the government, says this:

“No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice-President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.”

The gist is clear: A person who has taken an oath as an “officer of the United States” and then has “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” cannot “hold any office, civil or military, under the United States” unless two-thirds of Congress votes to allow it.

The details, however, are thorny. Among the unresolved questions:

Who is an “officer of the United States”? Is the presidency covered?

What does the text mean by “insurrection or rebellion”? Does the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol qualify?

Who gets to rule on whether someone has engaged in an insurrection? Can that be decided without a trial?

The Colorado court ruling affects only Colorado. Logically, however, if the Constitution bans Trump from office, the ban is effective in all states. Either he’s eligible or he isn’t. That’s why the U.S. Supreme Court almost certainly will take up the case — it’s the only body that can ensure uniformity of the law across the country. Of the nine justices on the high court, six are Republicans. But partisanship may not save Trump; the justices have already shown their willingness to rebuff him, rejecting appeals by his allies after he lost the 2020 election, for example.

Trump’s lawyers argue that the amendment doesn’t apply to the presidency. The text specifically mentions senators and representatives, they note, but doesn’t mention the president.

The Colorado Supreme Court rejected that argument. “Any office, civil or military” clearly includes the nation’s highest office, the judges said. Any other reading would be inconsistent with the purpose of the amendment — to prevent rebels from regaining positions of power.

“President Trump asks us to hold that Section Three disqualifies every oathbreaking insurrectionist except the most powerful one and that it bars oath-breakers from virtually every office, both state and federal, except the highest one in the land,” they wrote, emphasizing the alleged exception for the presidency. That, they said, would be “inconsistent with the plain language and history of Section Three.”

Most legal scholars who have written about the 14th Amendment take that side.

The other questions have generated more disagreement.

Was Jan. 6 an insurrection? The riot was a violent attack on the seat of government, and it temporarily disrupted congressional business. But it was a far cry from the Civil War, which took the lives of 2% of the entire U.S. population — the equivalent of 6 million people today. Just what did the authors of the 14th Amendment have in mind when they wrote “insurrection or rebellion”?

“These are demanding terms, connoting only the most serious of uprisings against the government, such as the Whiskey Rebellion and the Civil War,” wrote professor Michael McConnell of Stanford Law School, one of the scholars who has argued for a narrow reading of what’s covered. “The terms of Section 3 should not be defined down to include mere riots or civil disturbances, which are common in United States history,” he said.

Other scholars take the opposite view.

If Jan. 6 was an insurrection, did Trump engage in it?

That’s not purely a legal question; it’s a factual one — the sort normally resolved by a trial. The 14th Amendment doesn’t say, however, that it applies to people who are convicted of insurrection; instead, it bars those who have engaged in one. That suggests something less than a full-dress criminal trial may suffice; but clearly some process has to exist to decide whether any particular individual is covered.

In Colorado, state District Judge Sarah B. Wallace held a five-day hearing, starting Oct. 30, in which she took testimony about Jan. 6. In mid-November, she ruled that Trump had engaged in the insurrection.

But was that hearing fair? Trump’s lawyers say no. So does one of the three dissenting Colorado Supreme Court justices, Carlos Samour Jr.

The hearing was “stripped … of many basic protections that normally accompany a civil trial, never mind a criminal trial,” he wrote in his dissent. “I have been involved in the justice system for thirty-three years now, and what took place here doesn’t resemble anything I’ve seen in a courtroom.”

Even if the U.S. Supreme Court feels that the process was fair, it’s highly unlikely the justices would allow a single state court judge to make a factual finding for the entire country. But allowing each of the 50 states to make its own decision seems equally undesirable, and likely to invite a cacophony of conflicting rulings.

That’s the central problem with the whole case, Samour wrote, warning about “the potential chaos wrought by an imprudent, unconstitutional, and standardless system in which each state gets to adjudicate Section 3 disqualification cases on an ad hoc basis.”

The Supreme Court makes rulings on the law, not on findings of fact, so it’s not in a position to create a fair process for deciding whether Trump — or anyone else — is an insurrectionist.

Congress is the one body that could solve the problem. It could do what a previous Congress did after the Civil War: create, by law, a procedure for deciding who has engaged in conduct covered by the 14th Amendment’s ban.

That, however, is not going to happen. Ever since Jan. 6, Trump’s Republican allies have made sure that lawmakers would take no action on it beyond holding hearings. Their support spared Trump from conviction after he was impeached over the Capitol attack.

Click here to read the full article in the LA Times

A romp through ex-Trump attorney John Eastman’s Hail Mary pass to save law license

Column: As his livelihood hangs in the balance, former Chapman law dean wraps himself in the First Amendment

“Orwellian,” attorneys for John Eastman said of the state bar’s case against him.

“(T)he government has spoken, and if you disagree, then you must be lying. Two plus two equals five, after all, and if the government says so, you must not only repeat the lie, but you must come to believe it as well.”

Attorneys for the California Bar paint a similarly dystopian portrait of Eastman.

The former dean of Chapman Law School “engaged in multiple acts of wrongdoing in an effort to keep his client, (President Donald) Trump, in power despite having lost the 2020 election,” they wrote in closing arguments.

“In doing so, (Eastman) contributed to the violent attack on the Capitol on January 6, 2021, eroded without basis public trust in our government institutions and officials, and sought to disenfranchise millions of voters. (He) remains brazenly remorseless … and has made clear that he would continue to engage in the same misconduct if allowed. The only appropriate outcome is disbarment.”

Nearly 200 pages of forcefully erudite closing arguments were submitted to State Bar Court Judge Yvette Roland on Friday, Dec. 1. She has until March to decide if Eastman will be allowed to continue practicing law in California.

It’s not looking especially great for Eastman: The judge has already issued a preliminary ruling finding him culpable in Trump’s efforts to overturn the election.

If things don’t go his way, he could appeal her decision to an appellate level of review. If still not satisfied, he could take it to the California Supreme Court. If he doesn’t prevail there, he has indicated he might try to take it all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“I continue to be overwhelmed with the prayers, kind notes of encouragement, and financial support that we receive on a daily basis,” Eastman wrote to supporters on his fundraising page Nov. 27, the day before Giving Tuesday.

“As you can see, we continue to fight to expose the truth. But the fight is costly. … Please consider making an additional donation at https://www.givesendgo.com/Eastman to help us keep up the fight. “

Eastman seeks $750,000 to help pay his legal bills, which he has estimated will cost some $3 million. People have donated $586,712 as of Tuesday, Dec. 5. The messages they post there often use the language of holy war. 

“God has clearly appointed and anointed you for this task,” said an anonymous $25 donor last week. “God will surely bless and protect you and your family in the days ahead. May His Breakthrough Angels be at your side as we decree every evil strategy of set against you will backfire. In Jesus holy and precious name.”

Eastman may well need all that.

Last year, federal judge David O. Carter found Trump, Eastman and others “more likely than not” committed crimes in connection with the 2020 election. Eastman, Trump and and 17 others were indicted on racketeering charges for that alleged conduct in Georgia (Eastman has pleaded not guilty). And Eastman is “co-conspirator No. 2” in Trump’s federal indictment.

The California disbarment trial is the leading edge of all these legal woes. Both sides argue that the very fabric of our democracy hangs in the balance.

‘Good faith’

A refresher: Eastman advanced the theory that the vice president has the power to accept, reject or send back for further investigation electoral votes from states, even though those electoral votes were already certified by the states.

Which is to say, then-Vice President Mike Pence could have kicked back, or simply refused to count, “contested” electoral votes for Joe Biden, and even declare Trump the winner, the infamous Eastman memos argued.

He’s accused of prodding state electors to send fake electoral votes for Trump to the Capitol, to create that “contested” bit. Of filing false information with courts claiming massive irregularities that would alter the election’s outcome — even though he knew, or should have known, that was hogwash.

He’s accused of ignoring expertise that undercut his theories, of spreading incendiary lies that he knew were lies, of helping unleash the rage and violence that consumed the Capitol on Jan. 6 and cost several people their lives. The state bar charged him with 11 counts, the most colorful of which are dishonesty and moral turpitude.

In an 86-page closing brief in a trial that has dragged on since June, Eastman’s attorneys argue that he’s being persecuted — “lawfare,” in Eastman’s own words — for daring to raise questions about the election’s integrity.

While proof of large-scale fraud has never materialized, many state officials — without the required legislative approval — changed voting rules to accommodate the pandemic. They allowed ballots to be mailed to everyone, allowed people to “cure” ballots with issues (such as forgetting to sign the ballot), eliminated signature requirements, used unguarded drop boxes. This, in Eastman’s analysis, makes those votes illegal. His remedy: Throw those votes out (which, incidentally, would have made Trump the victor).

He argues his theories about the vice president’s power over electoral vote counts are not unreasonable; he was simply being a zealous advocate for his client, the president, in advancing untested legal theories; and he wraps himself in the First Amendment, arguing that everything he said was a matter of free speech and he can’t be punished for it, whether true or not.

“What we are witnessing is an unprecedented use – and abuse – of the legal system to silence the views of political opponents,” Eastman’s attorneys argue. “When seen in that light, the Notice of Disciplinary Charges at issue here should never have been brought, and it should be dismissed now, categorically, lest a precedent be set that will have a chilling effect on legal advocacy for decades to come.

“This is authoritarianism, not republicanism,” they said. “And Dr. Eastman, in fulfilling his duties to a client, happens to have been thrust to the forefront of the push-back against such authoritarianism, at great expense both in time and treasure to himself. If Dr. Eastman and his client were correct that the 2020 election was stolen – a view they firmly held at the time and continue to hold – then the threat to our system of government is extraordinarily high.”

‘Illusion of legality’

The bar attorneys agree about the “threat to our system part.”

“(T)he evidence shows that (Eastman) conspired with then President Donald Trump to develop and implement a strategy to obstruct the counting of electoral votes on January 6, 2021, and to illegally disrupt the peaceful transfer of power to President-elect Joseph Biden, knowing that there was no plausible evidence, and no good faith theory or argument, to lawfully undo or delay the January 6 electoral count,” their closing brief says.

Eastman’s “misconduct strikes at the very heart of what it means to be a lawyer – he misused his license in a grave and injurious manner designed to undermine our democracy, subvert the peaceful transfer of presidential power, and thwart the will of the people in a free and fair election. In doing so, he betrayed the fundamental duties and oaths he swore to uphold.”

The defense that Eastman acted in a good-faith search for the truth and to defend democracy is simply not credible, they said.

His “tactics and admissions confirm that he understood that his role was not to provide good faith advocacy, but to fabricate an illusion of legality to an illegal effort to delay the formal recognition of Trump’s obvious defeat by any means possible,” they wrote. “(H)e held — and still holds — truth and democracy in contempt, deliberately disregarding facts that demonstrate the validity of Biden’s victory to further a false narrative that would ignore the Constitution, disenfranchise millions of voters, and undermine a democratic election for President of the United States in favor of his allegiance to Trump.”

Click here to read the full article in the OC Register

Can Trump be on ballot? It hinges on one word

Lawsuits over former president’s run raise the question of what is an ‘insurrection.’

DENVER — Can former President Trump run for his old job again after his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol? The answer may depend on the definition of insurrection.

Liberal groups have filed lawsuits in ColoradoMinnesota and other states to bar Trump from the ballot, citing a rarely used constitutional prohibition against holding office for those who swore an oath to uphold the Constitution but then “engaged in insurrection” against it. The two-sentence clause in the 14th Amendment has been used only a handful of times since the years after the Civil War.

Because of that, there’s almost no case law defining its terms, including what would constitute an “insurrection.”

Although people have argued about whether to call Jan. 6 an insurrection ever since the days after the attack, the debate in court this week has been different — whether those who ratified the amendment in 1868 would call it one.

“There’s this very public fight, in all these colloquial terms, about whether it’s an insurrection, but it really comes down to brass tacks defining what this constitutional term means,” said Derek Muller, a Notre Dame law professor who’s followed the litigation closely.

There are myriad legal reasons why the long-shot bids to bar the former president and current Republican primary front-runner from the ballot could fail, from limits on the role of state courts to whether Section 3 applies to the president. But perhaps none resonate like the debate over whether the Jan. 6 attack should be considered an insurrection in the first place.

In a hearing Thursday before the Minnesota Supreme Court, the question was part of the reason the justices seemed skeptical that states have the authority to throw Trump off the ballot.

“What does it mean in your estimation to have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the Constitution?” Justice Gordon Moore asked the lawyers for each side.

Nicholas Nelson, representing Trump, defined an insurrection as “some sort of organized form of warfare or violence … that is oriented toward breaking away from or overthrowing the United States government.” He added that nothing in the last 50 years met that criteria.

Ronald Fein, an attorney for the group Free Speech for People, which is representing the petitioners, said an insurrection against the Constitution is “a concerted, forcible effort to prevent or obstruct execution of a central constitutional function,” which he said closely describes Trump’s actions surrounding the January 2021 assault on the Capitol, an attack that was intended to halt certification of Democrat Joe Biden’s election win.

“Insurrection might be in the eye of the beholder,” Minnesota Supreme Court Chief Justice Natalie Hudson concluded after statements from both sides.

day earlier, an Indiana University law professor, Gerard Magliocca, sat in a Denver courtroom and described his research into Section 3, a subject few had delved into before he started looking into it in late 2020.

Magliocca dug into dictionary definitions of insurrection from 150 years ago — one was “the rising of people in arms against their government, or against a portion of it, or against a portion or one of its laws.”

He found an opinion from the U.S. attorney general in 1867 that former Confederates should be barred from certain offices even if they simply bought bonds in the rebel government. He also found instances where Congress refused to seat elected representatives whose only violation was writing a letter to the editor backing the Confederate cause or paying a son $100 to help cover his costs to join the Confederate army.

Congress also passed a law in 1862 making insurrection a crime that used different language. Some critics of the Section 3 lawsuits have noted that out of the thousands of charges filed by the federal government related to Jan. 6, no one has been charged with the crime of insurrection — though several far-right extremists have been convicted of seditious conspiracy.

Magliocca noted that constitutional language is different from far more technical and detailed criminal statutes, and Section 3 says nothing about the person barred from office having to be first convicted of a crime. Indeed, Magliocca testified it was understood the goal of the provision was to keep a wide range of former Confederates out of public office in the years after the war.

In 1872, Congress lifted the ban for most former Confederates, something it’s explicitly able to do under the terms of Section 3.

On Friday in the Colorado hearing, Trump’s lawyers put on their own constitutional expert, Robert Delahunty, to note that some of Magliocca’s definitions were contradictory. Some required the use of “arms” in insurrection while others did not.

Delahunty, a retired law professor who is a fellow at the conservative Claremont Institute, said the more important question is the unique requirement in Section 3 that it be an insurrection against the Constitution.

“What really needs to be explicated is not the plain vanilla meaning of insurrection but the whole phrase — insurrection against the United States Constitution,” Delahunty testified on Friday.

The lawyers seeking to disqualify Trump in Colorado noted that even the former president’s own attorney in his impeachment trial for the Jan. 6 attack described it as an insurrection.

“The question before us is not whether there was a violent insurrection of the Capitol — on that point everyone agrees,” Trump attorney Michael van der Veen said during the impeachment proceedings in the Senate.

Legal scholars were able to find just one example of the amendment being used in the last century, when it was cited to deny a seat in the House of Representatives to an antiwar socialist elected after World War I.

After the Jan. 6 attack, however, it’s become more common. Free Speech for People unsuccessfully tried to use it to block Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor-Green from the ballot last year and also targeted former Republican Rep. Madison Cawthorn, though the issue became moot when he lost his GOP primary.

Another liberal group, Citizens for Reforming Ethics in Washington, successfully used Section 3 to block from office a rural New Mexico county commissioner after he was convicted in federal court of a misdemeanor for entering the Capitol grounds during the attack.

During a hearing in that case Thursday, Trump’s lawyers tried to show that many who attended the Jan. 6 protests were law-abiding, peaceful people.

Tom Bjorklund, treasurer of the Colorado Republican Party, wandered the National Mall that day and approached the Capitol, but said he turned back after seeing tear gas and vandalism.

Bjorklund contended that “antifa” was likely to blame for the violence — a false narrative that has been debunked by research showing the crowd was composed overwhelmingly of Trump supporters. He said he spotted people who seemed like agent provocateurs in the crowd and said he wanted to testify to make a statement.

Click here to read the full article in the LA Times

California bar finds John Eastman culpable for misconduct — setting up possible disbarment

The California State Bar has found pro-Trump attorney John Eastman culpable for ethics violations and misconduct in his plot to help former President Donald Trump overturn the 2020 presidential election, reported MSNBC legal analyst Tristan Snell on X.

The next phase is determining penalties for Eastman, which could range from a suspension to permanent revocation of his law license.

Eastman, a far-right former law professor, was the author of an infamous memo laying out a six-step plan to throw out electoral votes for then President-elect Joe Biden and kick the election to Trump — even while he purportedly privately admitted the plan was against the law.

POLL: Should Trump be allowed to run for office?

All of this comes at the same time Eastman is facing criminal charges in the Georgia election racketeering case brought by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, which also charged Trump and several other GOP attorneys and party activists.

While all this has been going on, Eastman also got more bad news this month, as the Supreme Court declined to vacate court rulings that resulted in Eastman’s emails being turned over to the former House Select Committee on January 6.

Does ‘insurrection’ clause block Trump?

Focusing on Jan. 6, lawyers for a group of Colorado voters say he does not have the right to be president.

DENVER — Lawyers for a group of Colorado voters on Monday focused on the January 2021 assault on the U.S. Capitol and former President Trump’s role, opening a trial that could determine whether the Constitution’s insurrection clause bars Trump from running again for the White House.

Attorney Eric Olson recounted Trump’s violent rhetoric preceding the Jan. 6 attack and his encouraging a crowd that came within “40 feet” of the vice president when it stormed the Capitol. He said Trump “summoned and organized the mob.”

“We are here because Trump claims, after all that, that he has the right to be president again,” Olson said. “But our Constitution, the shared charter of our nation, says he cannot do so.”

Trump’s legal team and presidential campaign assailed the lawsuit as little more than an attempt by Democrats to derail his attempt to reclaim his old job. Trump is so far dominating the Republican presidential primary.

Before the trial on the lawsuit began, his lawyers filed a motion to have the judge recuse herself because she had donated in the past to a liberal group in the state. She said no. The campaign also noted the current lawsuit was filed by a liberal nonprofit in a state that voted for Democrat Joe Biden in 2020.

“They send money to these dark money groups — they go to a Democratic jurisdiction and a Democratic judge,” Trump spokesman Jason Miller said.

Monday’s hearing in Colorado state court is the first of two lawsuits that could end up reaching the U.S. Supreme Court. On Thursday, the Minnesota Supreme Court hears oral arguments in a similar case.

Ultimately, either the Colorado or Minnesota case is expected to land at the U.S. Supreme Court, which has never ruled on the Civil War-era provision. Section 3 of the 14th Amendment prohibits those who swore an oath to uphold the Constitution and then “engaged in insurrection” against it from holding higher office.

The Colorado testimony began with details about the Jan. 6 assault that was intended to stop Congress from certifying Biden’s election win. Witnesses included some who were there.

Officer Daniel Hodges of Washington’s Metropolitan Police Department recalled being beaten and having someone try to gouge out his eye as he defended the Capitol from the rioters. Footage from the body camera he was wearing that day was shown in court.

“I was afraid for my life and my colleagues,” Hodges said. “I was afraid for the people in the U.S. Capitol building — congressmen, the vice president and what these people would do to them and how it would affect our democracy.”

Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell testified that members of the House watched the attack on their phones with mounting alarm as they grabbed gas masks and contemplated how to defend themselves. He said they all followed Trump’s messages on Twitter carefully.

“We connected the president’s tweets to our own safety in the chamber and also the integrity of the proceedings,” said Swalwell, who was manager of the House’s impeachment of Trump for the attack and also filed a federal lawsuit against him for inciting the riot.

The trial is unfolding in stages, starting with a description of the attack and Trump’s words and actions, followed by arguments over whether the assault actually constituted an insurrection. Later in the week, lawyers are expected to call constitutional experts to delve into the meaning of the amendment’s insurrection clause.

Trump’s lawyers contend that the former president never “engaged in insurrection” and was simply exercising his free speech rights to warn about election results he did not believe were legitimate. They noted cases where the congressional authors of Section 3 declined to use it more than a century ago against people who only rhetorically backed the confederacy.

His lawyers said none of the issues are simple in a provision of the Constitution that hasn’t been used in 150 years. In court filings, they said the insurrection clause was never meant to apply to the office of president, which is not mentioned in the text, unlike “Senator or Representative in Congress” and “elector of President and Vice President.”

“This is a legal Hail Mary by the Democrats,” said Mike Davis, an attorney who appeared with representatives of the Trump campaign outside court before the trial began. “This case is going to fail.”

An attorney representing Trump, Scott Gessler, called the lawsuit “anti-democratic” and noted that at least one other presidential candidate — socialist labor organizer Eugene Debs — ran from prison without people trying to disqualify him.

A former Colorado secretary of state, Gessler said there is an informal principle in election law known as “the rule of democracy,” which essentially means to “err on the side of letting people vote” whenever there is an ambiguity.

At the start of Monday’s hearing — held in a large Denver courtroom filled with attorneys, journalists and several armed sheriff’s deputies — the judge rejected the motion by Trump’s attorneys that asked her to step aside because she once contributed money to a liberal group.

Trump’s campaign said it had filed a motion for the judge, Sarah B. Wallace, to recuse herself because she had made a $100 donation in October 2022 to the Colorado Turnout Project, a group whose website says it was formed to “prevent violent insurrections” such as the Jan. 6 attack.

Click here to read the full article in the LA Times

What Guilty Pleas in Georgia Mean for the Federal Case Against Trump

The guilty pleas present a host of challenges as state and federal prosecutors engage in parallel efforts to hold Donald J. Trump accountable, defense lawyers and former federal prosecutors say.

Jack Smith, the special counsel investigating former President Donald J. Trump, brought a streamlined case against Mr. Trump in accusing him of trying to subvert democracy — with the goal of moving the case rapidly to trial in a presidential election year.

Fani T. Willis, the district attorney in Fulton County, Ga., chose a starkly different strategy in prosecuting Mr. Trump for seeking to overturn the results of the 2020 election, indicting 18 co-defendants as well as the former president. Critics said that approach would take far longer.

But she has moved with a stunning swiftness that has taken both the Trump team and some Justice Department officials by surprise — obtaining plea deals from three lawyers aligned with Mr. Trump — Kenneth ChesebroSidney Powell and Jenna Ellis — in the space of a week.

The developments are, without a doubt, good news for Mr. Smith. But they also present logistical and legal challenges as Mr. Smith and Ms. Willis engage in parallel efforts to hold Mr. Trump accountable, according to defense lawyers and former federal prosecutors.

Despite Mr. Trump’s efforts to postpone the federal election case until after the 2024 election, it is still scheduled to go to trial in March. The plea agreements, and the prospect that even more of Mr. Trump’s co-defendants will cut deals, have made it nearly impossible to determine when the trial in the Georgia case will begin, and have increased overall uncertainty about both cases.

Here is what to know about the impact of the plea deals on the federal case.

Yes, but it is complicated.

Any publicly released documents or statements in all of the cases — including court appearances by the Fulton County defendants — can be admissible as evidence in the federal trial.

It remains unlikely, given the initial timetable set by Ms. Willis’s staff, and the recent flurry of activity spurred by demands from Ms. Powell and Mr. Chesebro for a speedy trial under Georgia law, that Mr. Trump’s Georgia trial would take place before the federal case.

That means any public testimony against Mr. Trump would probably come after Mr. Smith had already brought his case, although the situation remains fluid.

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Ms. Willis and her staff have discretion when it comes to deciding whether they will share material that has not entered the official record, including transcripts and video of witness interviews and other evidence, with Mr. Smith’s team.

Confused about the inquiries and legal cases involving former President Donald Trump? We’re here to help.

  • Key Cases and Inquiries: The former president faces several investigations at both the state and the federal levels, into matters related to his business and political careers. Here is a close look at each.
  • Case Tracker: Trump is at the center of four criminal investigations. Keep track of the developments in each here.
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  • What if Trump Is Convicted?: Will any of the proceedings hinder Trump’s 2024 presidential campaign? Can a convicted felon even run for office? Here is what we know, and what we don’t know.

That is why federal prosecutors, when confronted with dual-track local prosecutions in the past, have pushed to proceed first — to avoid having to defer to elected district attorneys answerable to voters.

The best-case scenario for Mr. Smith is that Fulton County prosecutors will simply hand over interview transcripts to the government, said Darryl K. Brown, a University of Virginia law professor who teaches courses on evidence and criminal procedure. If that happens, the special counsel’s office could then subpoena the defendants, or other witnesses, and ask them under oath if what they said previously was truthful.

“The easiest thing would be to call witnesses to the stand and ask them, ‘Do you stand by your statement?’” he said. “People who cooperate with local prosecutors will also tend to cooperate with federal prosecutors.”

It is possible, however, that Ms. Willis will ask Mr. Smith and his team to share information about their investigation, as a reciprocal gesture.

That could prove problematic. Already, the judge in the federal election case has imposed a robust protective order that shields most evidence from being given to people who are not parties to it. And federal prosecutors are bound to keep testimony before grand juries secret. They can request that it be shared with local prosecutors but seldom do, said Kenneth P. White, a former federal prosecutor.

The Justice Department has been resistant to sharing any material on Mr. Trump’s cases outside the department, engaging in a monthslong scrap with the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, over doing so.

“If things break down, Smith could, technically, subpoena stuff from Willis,” Mr. White said. “But that’s much too aggressive, and he’s never going to do that. So they have to work things out.”

No, contact between the two prosecutors has been fairly minimal, according to people familiar with the situation.

“I don’t know what Jack Smith is doing, and Jack Smith doesn’t know what I’m doing,” Ms. Willis said in the weeks before she brought charges against Mr. Trump. “In all honesty, if Jack Smith was standing next to me, I’m not sure I would know who he was. My guess is he probably can’t pronounce my name correctly.”

But the recent plea deals could change that dynamic, even though Ms. Willis’s team continues to privately stress their prosecutorial independence, those people said.

The Justice Department does not prohibit interactions with other offices. In fact, the department’s procedural handbook encourages early cooperation between federal prosecutors and officials from state and local law enforcement agencies to avoid conflicts and duplications of effort.

The guidelines are relatively vague, but include guardrails intended to protect defendants, warning prosecutors that “parallel proceedings must be handled carefully in order to avoid allegations of improper release of grand jury material or abuse of civil process.”

Whatever evidence Mr. Smith obtains from Georgia will be turned over to the Trump defense team as part of the discovery process.

Yes, but it might offer limited protection.

If Mr. Smith were to subpoena Mr. Chesebro, Ms. Powell and Ms. Ellis as witnesses against Mr. Trump, they could refuse to testify by exercising their Fifth Amendment rights — even though they had effectively waived those rights in Georgia.

But Mr. Smith could counter by bringing federal charges against them, giving him the same leverage Fulton County prosecutors had when negotiating their original plea. And any admissions made on the stand in Fulton County could, in theory, be used against them by Mr. Smith. Ms. Powell and Mr. Chesebro are already believed to be two of the unnamed co-conspirators in Mr. Smith’s federal indictment.

“Just because they have immunity in Georgia doesn’t mean they have immunity” in Washington, Mr. White said.

Possibly.

There is no road map for indicting a former president, much less simultaneously prosecuting one for similar crimes in two jurisdictions. The Justice Department typically seeks to avoid concurrent cases to prevent discrepancies in witness testimony that can be exploited by the defense to seed doubt about the entire case.

Mr. Trump has adopted the same approach when former aides or advisers turn on him: He tries to undermine their credibility.

His habit of calling out potential witnesses and co-defendants prompted the judge presiding over his federal case in Washington to impose a limited gag order — but his legal team will almost certainly zero in on weaknesses and discrepancies in their testimony.

Several former prosecutors noted that the Fulton County indictments, which rely on Georgia’s expansive anti-racketeering law, presented many of the problems posed by other sprawling cases that rely on the testimony of former allies: The most important witnesses have a well-documented history of making false statements.

Click here to read the full article in the NY Times

Prosecutors ask judge to impose long sentence for Northern California Jan. 6 rioter

Arguing that a Northern California man who participated in the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol came “prepared for violence,” prosecutors are asking a judge to impose one of the longer sentences handed down on Jan. 6 defendants.

The government is asking U.S. District Court Judge John D. Bates to order former Auburn construction worker Sean Michael McHugh, 35, to serve 10 years and three months in prison, pay a $73,000 fine and pay $2,000 in restitution when he is sentenced next Thursday.

The request comes in a 44-page sentencing memorandum filed late Thursday in federal court in Washington, D.C., where prosecutors argued that McHugh armed himself with powerful bear spray and a bullhorn and traveled to the Capitol to urge fellow supporters of then-President Donald Trump to “march on Congress.”

“During the riot, McHugh actively participated in at least four attempts to breach perimeters established by officers during the riot,” Assistant U.S. Attorneys Lynnett Wagner and Carolina Nevin wrote. “First, he was one of the initial rioters to breach a police line and enter the West Plaza. “Second, he wrestled with an officer for control of a barricade protecting access to the Capitol. Third, he assaulted officers on the West Plaza, hitting them with his bear spray, causing the officers to back away from the line, and preventing them from performing their official duties.

“Fourth, he helped other rioters to push a large metal sign into officers. In between these acts of aggression, McHugh used his megaphone to spew vitriol towards officers and to encourage other rioters to act against the officers.”

MCHUGH ATTORNEY SEEKS MUCH SHORTER SENTENCE McHugh, 35, was convicted last April of assaulting, resisting or impeding officers using a dangerous weapon and obstruction of an official proceeding and could face a sentence of up to 20 years in prison. His attorney argues that McHugh should receive a sentence of only two years, which “should permit him to rejoin society in time for his son’s high school graduation.”

Attorney Joseph Allen contends in a 13-page sentencing memorandum that McHugh was exercising his First Amendment rights on Jan. 6, that McHugh was swept up in the moment as protesters moved toward the Capitol from the Ellipse, where Trump had spoken before Congress was scheduled to certify Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 election.

“Mr. McHugh is not a rioter nor is he an insurrectionist,” Allen wrote. “He is an American citizen who, like any of us could, found himself caught up in the emotion of the events of a day which began lawfully and peacefully, then dominoed into the situation in which he finds himself now. “Mr. McHugh has maintained and continues to maintain that his actions for which he stands before this court were not planned, nor did he engage in the January 6 protest with any ill intent or malice.” McHugh, who has been in custody since his arrest May 2021, is the only one of four Sacramento-area defendants in the Jan. 6 riot to remain in jail, and faced the most serious charges among the four.

The government’s proposed sentence of more than 10 years in prison would be one of the longer ones imposed on Jan. 6 defendants to date. The longest imposed to date was 18 years for Stewart Rhodes, the leader of the far-right Oath Keepers group who was convicted of seditious conspiracy. Two other members of the right-wing Proud Boys group, Joseph Biggs and Zachary Rehl, were sentenced Thursday to 17 years and 15 years, respectively.

SENTENCE ‘REFLECTS GRAVITY OF MCHUGH’S CONDUCT’ Prosecutors in McHugh’s case argue that a sentence of 10 years and three months — which falls within federal sentencing guidelines calling for a term of 110 to 137 months — “reflects the gravity of McHugh’s conduct and his extensive criminal history.”

They also argue that he has shown no remorse for his actions, and that a fundraising site set up on his behalf contained a post from Thursday appearing to be from McHugh that stated, “I did not hurt anyone.” “Good Morning Everyone,” that post reads. “Let the countdown begin 7 more days and the fate of my life is in the hands of the DOJ… “I’ve been anxious, and nervous with so many thoughts running through my head. I’m having trouble sleeping and am consumed with thoughts of what the outcome will be.

I did not hurt anyone and I did not enter the Capital yet they want to give me 11.5 years it hardly seem fair. I ask you all to continue to pray for me and my family along with extra prays for the Proud Boys who have their sentencing this week.” The fundraising effort says it was set up by McHugh’s fiancée and describes McHugh as “just like most conservative American(s).”

“The Biden regime and DOJ has made it clear that if you are Republican, you can expect to have your civil, constitutional, and basic human rights stripped from you,” it states. As of early Friday, that site had raised $74,428 for what it described as “help with funds for legal fees and bills.”

Prosecutors contend that McHugh began planning his trip to Washington in December 2020, and “actively planned to prevent Congress’ certification of the Electoral College vote.” “In late December 2020, McHugh posted on Facebook ‘Going to D.C. Jan 5 6 7 to fight. HMU if you wanna join. Reservations made!,”’ prosecutors wrote. He added, “if this doesn’t make you want to get up in storm Congress and rip people out of office then you need to move to China,” according to prosecutors, and noted that McHugh updated his Facebook status early on Jan. 6 to write that “1776 will commence again January 6, 2021.”

TWO POLICE OFFICERS WANT TO SPEAK AT SENTENCING

Prosecutors also argue that when McHugh sprayed a line of police officers with bear spray — something he bragged about later on social media — he temporarily blinded one officer. “McHugh was one of the first rioters to break through the police line at the West Plaza,” they wrote. “McHugh assaulted officers on the West Plaza with bear spray at an early, critical juncture in the riot, causing officers pain and disrupting their ability to protect the Capitol.

“McHugh encouraged other rioters to act against officers and advance on the Capitol at multiple times and places on the West Plaza. McHugh took other physical acts against officers that included wrestling with an officer for control of a barricade at the South Scaffolding, joining other rioters to use a large metal sign as a battering ram against officers, and crossing police lines on the West Plaza.” Two officers from the riot have asked for time to speak at McHugh’s sentencing hearing, and prosecutors say McHugh’s actions warrant the sentence they are recommending.

“McHugh to this day continues to deny responsibility for his actions at the Capitol where he took part in a violent attack on officers and on the government,” they wrote. “McHugh’s denial and lack of remorse demonstrates that McHugh’s sentence must be sufficient to deter him from ever again engaging in violence in pursuit of his political goals.”

BEAR SPRAYING POLICE ‘POOR EXERCISE OF JUDGMENT’

McHugh’s attorney describes his client in a different fashion, writing that McHugh was sleep-deprived from his flight to Washington and that he only used his bear spray after seeing his mother get hit with projectiles fired by police, an action Allen described as “an exceedingly poor exercise of judgment.” He also argued that McHugh carried the bear spray to defend himself in the event Antifa counter-protesters appeared. “The facts of this case are simple,” Allen wrote.

“Mr. McHugh traveled to Washington, D.C., to protest what he believed to be an unlawful and corrupt election result. “He did so fully within his rights under the First Amendment of the Constitution to petition for a redress of grievances and under the lawfully obtained permits for the protests which had been previously acquired. Mr. McHugh participated in the protest, moving with the crowd, which became more and more agitated.

“Mr. McHugh, in an unfortunate cascade of events, found himself echoing the agitation of the crowd, expressing the growing sentiments directly to the police officers who were present to keep order. These sentiments did not come from a place of reason or from a clear and calculating mental state. Rather they were the product of that phenomenon commonly referred to as mob mentality.” Allen added that McHugh was not part of “some sinister prior plot” or conspiracy, and that he never entered the Capitol itself. “Were Mr. McHugh guilty of some other, more severe and serious action, such as breaching the Capitol Building or engaging in physical combat with law enforcement, then a more drastic example might be appropriate,” he wrote.

“However, Mr. McHugh is but one of the many everyday citizens who made a regrettable decision on January 6, 2021.” Allen urged the judge to take into account the fact that McHugh has not seen his teenage son in two years and to show mercy. “This court has the opportunity to demonstrate that while the events of January 6 were unacceptable, these so-called January 6 defendants are not the enemy,” he wrote. “They are our fellow citizens, neighbors, and friends. “That ideology has so torn us apart is not the fault of Mr. McHugh, no that blame lies elsewhere.”

ONE MORE SACRAMENTO DEFENDANT FACES SENTENCING

McHugh is the third of four Sacramento-area Jan. 6 defendants to face sentencing to date. Valerie Elaine Ehrke of Arbuckle received probation after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor last year.

Click here to read the full article in the Sacramento Bee

John Eastman’s Disastrously Bad Idea

 Claremont Institute legal scholar John Eastman will be arraigned next week on nine felony counts related to his efforts to reverse the results of the 2020 election, charges that were brought by the Democratic district attorney of Fulton County, Georgia, Fani Willis. Eastman is one of the minds behind the scheme that, had it been enacted on Jan. 6, 2021, called for then-Vice President Mike Pence, presiding over the congressional certification of Electoral College results, to send the votes of key states including Arizona and Georgia back to the states for more debate and investigation, thus denying Joe Biden a victory in the Electoral College that was already settled and certified.

Pence refused to take part in the scheme. Then the proceedings were interrupted for several hours by the Capitol riot. And then Biden’s victory was finally certified. There was never any chance Eastman’s plan would have succeeded, but there is no doubt that, had Pence followed Eastman’s advice, the already chaotic day would have descended into a far more serious disorder.

That doesn’t mean Eastman’s idea was illegal. It does not mean it was a crime. In the political world, there are a lot of very damaging ideas that are not crimes. But prosecutor Willis has pushed ahead, even though a judge barred her from pursuing one possible defendant because of her, Willis’s, partisan political activities.

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In any event, now Eastman, facing the possibility of years in prison, will begin his defense. This week, he began it in a very public way by sitting for an interview with Fox News’s Laura Ingraham, who in addition to her work on television is a lawyer and former Supreme Court clerk. In just a few minutes, Ingraham exposed a key flaw, perhaps the key flaw, of Eastman’s plan: He had no idea what to do if he succeeded.

Early in the interview, Eastman claimed that he had “lots of evidence of fraud” in the 2020 presidential election. Ingraham challenged him. “I haven’t seen that evidence,” she responded. “And I’m always wanting to see everything. So I haven’t seen that evidence.” The conversation then turned to the legal challenges of election results. But then Ingraham got to the simple question at the heart of the Jan. 6 story: “John, on Jan. 6, what did you want to happen? … Just so the viewers can understand what would have unfolded and how that would have ultimately been constitutional.”

Eastman began by saying that “some people,” meaning some around then-President Donald Trump, “had urged that Vice President Pence simply had power to reject electors whose certification was still pending.” In other words, Pence could, all on his own, reject Biden’s victory. Ingraham quickly noted, “I don’t believe that,” but Eastman maintained that it was an “open issue.” Nevertheless, Eastman said he told Pence “it would be foolish to exercise such power even if he had it.”

OK. So what did Eastman want Pence to do? “What I recommended, and I’ve said this repeatedly, is that he accede to requests from more than a hundred state legislators in those swing states to give them a week to try and sort out the impact of what everybody acknowledged was illegality in the conduct of the election.”

“Not everyone acknowledged it,” Ingraham noted. And then a more practical question: “You thought a week was going to be enough to hear all these challenges?” Underlying Ingraham’s question was a simple fact: There was no way in the world the challenges could have been resolved in a week. Eastman acknowledged that when he responded, “We’re still 2 1/2 years later looking at the evidence.”

Still, Eastman maintained that “what a week would have done is give them an opportunity to assess, OK, is the uncertainty so great because of the illegality in the election that we have a failed election? And at that point, the power to do the best they can revolved back to the [state] legislature. … A week would have given them a time to try and decide what, if anything, to do about it. And, you know, we were never going to get in a week to the bottom of how much fraud or what have you. But we could get to the bottom of illegality, and we could make some estimates and extrapolations to try and do the best job we could to assess what the likely outcome actually was.”

There it is. Eastman said a week would be enough for the state legislatures to come up with “estimates and extrapolations” to see if the election was legitimate or not. That was his plan. But remember this:

1) The state results were already certified. They were literally signed, sealed, and delivered. The challenges from “more than a hundred state legislators” that Eastman mentioned were from several states and from people who did not represent a majority in any house of any state legislature. They were just groups of Republican lawmakers who questioned the election results. When Eastman referred to “electors whose certification was still pending” — there weren’t any. No legislature, as a body, and no governor had declared a state’s results illegitimate. Indeed, just the opposite was true. After recounts in the key states, the states had certified the results. There was no legal reason to send the election results back to any state.

2) The “illegalities” that Eastman cited had been considered in the courts. Some claims had been rejected before the election, some after the election. One important claim, in Pennsylvania, where the state Supreme Court, acting on its own, extended the time in which mail-in ballots could be received, made its way to the Supreme Court, which declined to hear it. That is not to say there was no valid criticism of the Pennsylvania court’s action, but the fact is, the objection had been taken all the way to the Supreme Court, and the case was over.

3) Most importantly, Eastman did not know what to do if he won. Let’s say Pence sent the electoral results back to some states. In a week, according to Eastman’s thinking, the state legislatures could “get to the bottom of illegality.” And what then? At that point, somebody would make “estimates and extrapolations” to determine if 2020 was a “failed election.” Then they would do “the best job we could” to “assess what the likely outcome actually was.”

Who knows how that would work. But here is the fundamental question. Under Eastman’s plan, who would be president of the United States at noon on Jan. 20, 2021? Would the president take office on the basis of Electoral College results or somebody’s “estimates and extrapolations” of what those results would be if the election were somehow conducted differently? What legitimacy would the president chosen on the basis of “estimates and extrapolations” have?

Click here to read the full article in the Washington Examiner

State bar Acts on O.C. lawyer

Attorney who advised Trump on overturning election is charged with ethics violations.

The State Bar of California filed disciplinary charges Thursday against Orange County attorney John Eastman, accusing him of multiple ethics violations stemming from his actions while advising then-President Trump on how to overturn the 2020 election.

The charges could be the first step to Eastman losing his California law license.

Eastman, a former professor and dean at Chapman University’s Fowler School of Law, emerged as a key legal advisor to Trump in the weeks after Joe Biden won the presidency.

Eastman helped develop a legal and political strategy promoting the false claim that the results were tainted by fraud and misconduct by election officials, according to a 35-page charging document filed by the State Bar.

In the months that followed, the U.S. attorney general and others told the Trump campaign that there was no evidence of widespread fraud that could have affected the outcome of the election. Dozens of courts dismissed cases alleging fraud.

Still, the State Bar alleges, Eastman continued to work with Trump to promote the lie of a stolen election.

Eastman must be held accountable for his role in “an egregious and unprecedented attack on our democracy,” George Cardona, the State Bar’s chief trial counsel, said in a statement.

An attorney’s highest duty is abiding by the federal and state constitutions, and Eastman violated that duty, Cardona wrote.

The 11 disciplinary charges against Eastman include failure to support the Constitution and laws of the United States, misrepresentation, seeking to mislead a court, and making false and misleading statements that constitute acts of “moral turpitude, dishonesty and corruption.”

State Bar officials said they intend to seek Eastman’s disbarment before the State Bar Court.

In a Substack post, Eastman said the State Bar filing is “filled with distortions, half-truths and outright falsehoods.” In the post, which seeks funds for his legal defense, he also asks for prayers.

Eastman’s attorney, Randall A. Miller, said in a statement that his client “disputes every aspect of the action that has been filed against him by the State Bar.”

“The complaint filed against Eastman that triggered today’s action by the State Bar is part of a nationwide effort to use the bar discipline process to penalize attorneys who opposed the current administration in the last presidential election,” the statement said. “Americans of both political parties should be troubled by this politicization of our nation’s state bars.”

The State Bar alleges that Eastman wrote legal memos — one in December 2020 and another on Jan. 3, 2021 — advising Vice President Mike Pence that he could declare that election results in seven states were in dispute.

This would have led to electoral votes going uncounted and could have opened the door for Trump to remain president.

In the second memo, Eastman asserted that the “election was tainted by outright fraud (both traditional ballot stuffing and electronic manipulation of voting tabulation machines),” according to the state bar filing.

Eastman knew or should have known that the assertion was “false and misleading,” the State Bar filing said.

In a speech to tens of thousands of Trump supporters at the National Mall in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6, Eastman said that “dead people had voted” and that electronic voting machines made by the Dominion company had altered the election results.

Eastman’s comments constituted an “act of moral turpitude, dishonesty and corruption,” were “false and misleading” and helped provoke the crowd to attack the Capitol, the filing said.

Eastman has a long history in California’s conservative legal circles.

He was hired by Chapman’s law school in 1999 and was dean from June 2007 to January 2010, then continued to teach courses in constitutional law, property law, legal history and the 1st Amendment.

He retired in early 2021 after more than 100 Chapman faculty and others affiliated with the university signed a letter calling on the school to take action against him for his role in the Jan. 6 insurrection.

Thursday’s charges are the result of a lengthy investigation into Eastman’s actions that began in 2021.

In October of that year, the nonpartisan legal group States United Democracy Center filed an ethics complaint calling on the State Bar to investigate Eastman’s Jan. 6 actions.

Christine P. Sun, a senior vice president at the States United Democracy Center, said in a statement Thursday that Eastman “abused the legal system and violated the oath he swore as an attorney, in an attempt to block the will of the people and prevent the peaceful transfer of power.”

The level of detail included in the filing indicates that the State Bar is taking the allegations against Eastman seriously, said UC Berkeley Law Dean Erwin Chemerinsky.

Click here to read the full article at LA Times