Eastman faces disbarment push in California
The California bar’s top disciplinary official is seeking the disbarment of John Eastman, an architect of Donald Trump’s bid to subvert the 2020 election, for what he describes as a “strategy, unsupported by facts or law, to overturn the legitimate results of the 2020 presidential election.”
George Cardona, the chief trial counsel for the State Bar of California, contended that Eastman violated rules of professional conduct at least 11 times as he pushed fringe legal theories aimed at keeping Trump in power despite his loss in the election.
Cardona’s 35-page filing with the State Bar Court contends that Eastman pushed claims of election fraud or misconduct even though “there was no evidence upon which a reasonable attorney would rely” to support those contentions.
“Nevertheless, from on or about December 9, 2020, and continuing to at least on or about January 6, 2021, respondent continued to work with Trump and others to promote the idea that the outcome of the election was in question and had been stolen from Trump,” the attorney wrote.
In a statement, Eastman attorney Randall Miller said Eastman disputed “every aspect” of the bar charges against him.
“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,” Miller said in the statement, describing Eastman’s 2020 work as the “evaluation of alternatives available to President Trump.”
Eastman has maintained an active role in urging state legislatures to decertify the results of the 2020 election and recently signed a document urging House conservatives to deny Rep. Kevin McCarthy the speaker’s gavel.
Eastman has been the subject of numerous investigations since Trump’s failed effort to overturn the 2020 election results. The Jan. 6 select committee recommended that he face criminal charges for his conduct, and a federal judge agreed that he “likely” entered into a criminal conspiracy with Trump to obstruct Congress’ effort to count electoral votes on Jan. 6, 2021.
Federal prosecutors seized Eastman’s phone in June and have obtained access to his emails as they pursue a grand jury investigation related to Trump’s effort to overturn the election. A special grand jury in Fulton County, Ga., has also eyed Eastman’s involvementas it pursued a district attorney’s probe of Trump’s effort to subvert the results. Eastman invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination when appearing before the Fulton County grand jury, and he did the same before the Jan. 6 select committee.
Eastman initially pressed state legislatures to adopt alternate slates of electors that could be sued to force a controversy on Jan. 6, 2021, when then-Vice President Mike Pence was presiding over a joint session of Congress to count electoral votes that determine the presidency. But after no state legislatures took up his call, Eastman pushed a more extreme theory, joining Trump to pressure Pence to overturn the results of the election unilaterally — or to at least call an unauthorized recess of the joint session in order to let states have more time to weigh in.
Pence refused to go along, and Eastman continued his pressure campaign even as violent rioters — inflamed by Pence’s decision not to abide by Trump’s calls — stormed the Capitol and delayed certification of the election for hours.