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

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“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

Comments

  1. “Eastman’s conduct harmed and continues to harm the nation, they said. He has not accepted an iota of responsibility for his misconduct and doesn’t appear to have any remorse whatsoever.” OC Register

    Continue to spread the lie so you can sell papers. J6 was planned by the deep state. Period.

  2. Would his license be of any benefit to him anyway when he’s in prison? That seems to be where he’s headed and for a long time.

  3. Seems like the “Lawyers” trying to destroy Eastman are simply accusing Eastman by assertion!.

  4. Allowing free speech and trials-of-fact provides an expansion of insight into our laws and its interpretations. To shut down these attempts is to stagnate a society and free thinking. Rulings should be on merits— not ones political ideology. This is all a major witch hunt.

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