Joker: John Eastman, Trump Co-Conspirator #2, Obliged “a Coup in Search of a Legal Theory” with a plan to prevent certification of 2020 electoral vote


Special counsel Jack Smith has compelled at least two Republican fake electors to testify to a federal grand jury in Washington in recent weeks by giving them limited immunity, part of a current push by federal prosecutors to swiftly nail down evidence in the sprawling criminal investigation into efforts to overturn the 2020 election.

In recent weeks, the special counsel’s office has also shown interest in several members of Trump’s post-election legal team who promoted baseless claims of widespread voter fraud, including his former lawyers Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, as well as former Justice Department appointee Jeffrey Clark, who tried to help Trump’s push to use the Department of Justice to overturn the election.

Giuliani played a key role in overseeing the fake electors plot across seven battleground states as part of the broader push to overturn the 2020 presidential election results for Trump, as CNN has previously reported.

Prosecutors have also continued to focus on potential financial crimes and money laundering after Trump raised millions of dollars off false claims the election was stolen. One former Trump campaign official who testified this month before the grand jury was asked about specific campaign ads and messaging produced as part of those fundraising activities, according to a source familiar with the matter.

Multiple 2020 election witnesses are scheduled for grand jury appointments in the coming days, sources say.

Fake electors in Nevada

The fake electors scheme – one of the more public efforts to overturn Biden’s win in the 2020 election – now appears to be at the forefront for prosecutors, sources said. The Republicans at the center of the fake electors effort asserted that Trump won in seven battleground states that he actually lost, and signed documents claiming they were the rightful electors.

The two Nevada Trump electors who were given the limited immunity – the state’s Republican Party Chairman Michael McDonald and another Nevada GOP official, Jim DeGraffenreid – both testified before the grand jury last week.

At least two more grand jury witnesses this week had insight into the fake electors scheme, including Gary Michael Brown, a 2020 Trump campaign election day operations official, who had told campaign staff he delivered fake elector votes for Trump to Congress from battleground states. Brown previously never responded to House Select Committee investigators who tried to reach him in their separate investigation.

McDonald and DeGraffenreid previously declined to answer some questions about the fake electors scheme in the House inquiry.

McDonald also previously told reporters in Nevada that the FBI seized his phone as part of the federal probe related to January 6 and efforts to overturn the 2020 election.

The two Nevada fake electors who testified recently spoke to the grand jury about the actions of Nevada’s former GOP attorney general Adam Laxalt, and Jesse Binnall, a lawyer who worked for the Trump campaign in Nevada. Laxalt and Binnall both appeared at a press conference in mid-November 2020 to tout a lawsuit challenging the presidential election results and spreading claims of election fraud.

“Donald Trump won the state of Nevada after you account for the fraud and irregularities that occurred in the election,” said Binnall, who was one of the lawyers who brought a failed lawsuit on behalf of the GOP electors in Nevada.

As part of the special counsel’s investigation into the state-level efforts to overturn the election results, several county election commissions and state officials in battleground states Trump tried to contest received subpoenas last year for documents related to communications involving his campaign and various allies.

Nevada’s Clark County was among those that produced documents following a subpoena. In the batch of documents handed over and obtained by CNN, representatives for Trump’s campaign were in touch with election workers in Clark County. In their communications, the election workers parried questions from the Trump campaign about mail-in ballots and knocked down rumors, including a claim that there were problems with ballot tabulation hardware, the documents show.

Hearing in Eastman disbarment case

It’s a good thing that this public proceeding is being recorded, because I suspect one could teach a whole variety of law school classes using it, if one wishes. Here’s the link for the livestream:


“Eastman plan to keep Trump in power faces a reckoning, as authorities seek his disbarment”

Kyle Cheney in POLITICO:

“Bar authorities say Eastman’s scheme began after basic legal challenges to the election results failed to influence the outcome — despite Trump’s repeated efforts to sow false claims of election fraud. Eastman spent much of December 2020 urging state legislatures in at least five states won by Biden to appoint “alternate” presidential electors. Those “dueling” slates, Eastman contended, would trigger a chance for Pence to either declare Trump the victor or simply delay the count altogether by citing the controversy. Then, Eastman theorized, GOP-controlled states would have more time to consider whether to declare Trump the winner and invalidate Biden’s victory.

“But no legislatures adopted Eastman’s strategy, so the attorney shifted to an even riskier course. Eastman encouraged Pence to consider slates of electors filed by pro-Trump activists in seven states Trump falsely claimed to have won. Eastman said that even without the backing of a state government, those slates could be used to trigger the same controversy for Pence he had already been envisioning. …

“According to Eastman, however, his advice — no matter how unorthodox — was “tenable” legal advice, not something that should be punished, even if it turned out to be wrong or misguided. He contends there were legitimate, contested interpretations of the 12th Amendment and the Electoral Count Act of 1887 — which govern the counting of electoral votes — and that a “good-faith” dispute should not result in professional consequences.”























































FBI resisted opening probe into Trump’s role in Jan. 6 for more than a year

In the DOJ’s investigation of Jan. 6, key Justice officials also quashed an early plan for a task force focused on people in Trump’s orbit.

By Carol D. Leonnig and Aaron C. Davis

June 20, 2023


In several cases, before the special counsel’s office got in touch, witnesses in the fake electors scheme hadn’t heard from the FBI in almost a year and thought the case was dead. Similarly, firsthand witnesses to Trump’s Jan. 2, 2021, call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger — in which Trump asked him to “find” enough votes to win that state — were not interviewed by the Justice Department until this year, after Smith’s team contacted them.

In late May, members of Trump’s legal team began bracing for Smith to bring charges in his other line of investigation. On June 8, a grand jury in Miami endorsed Smith’s evidence that Trump kept and withheld top-secret documents, indicting Trump.

On Tuesday, as Trump pleaded not guilty to those charges in federal court in Miami, Smith’s investigation into efforts to steal the election continued: Michael McDonald and Jim DeGraffenreid, the chairman and vice chairman of the Nevada Republican Party who had signed a document claiming to be electors for Trump, entered the area of the D.C. federal courthouse where a grand jury has been meeting on cases related to Jan. 6.

The JOHN EASTMAN CA State DISBARMENT TRIAL will be Live-streamed on 6/20/23.
Per the State Bar Court of California, the disbarment trial will be held in Courtroom A next Tuesday at 10 am. Case: SBC-23-0-30029.
ZOOM:    Webinar ID: 979 8543 5232


He devised a fringe legal theory to try to keep Trump in power. Now he’s on the verge of being disbarred.

John Eastman, an architect of Donald Trump’s last-ditch bid to subvert the 2020 election on Jan. 6, is about to go on trial — but not in a criminal court.

Rather, the attorney is fighting to save his California bar license from authorities who say he repeatedly breached professional ethics — and possibly the law — in his bid to keep a defeated Trump in power. And those proceedings, while not as prominent as the Jan. 6 select committee or as potentially punitive as a criminal prosecution, are slated to elicit some of the most revealing and comprehensive testimony from figures who aided Trump’s effort to derail the transfer of power.

That’s because Eastman and the California State Bar have amassed witness lists that include figures who have rarely spoken publicly about Jan. 6 but may hold valuable evidence — including Eastman himself, who is listed as a potential witness by the state bar’s trial counsel and by his own defense team. Their lists also include other high-profile figures, like former Bush administration lawyer John Yoo and Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, who are slated to testify as experts about constitutional law or election administration.

Eastman’s list features Kurt Olsen, a lawyer who spoke with Trump multiple times on Jan. 6 and who helmed legal efforts to unravel the election results in multiple states; Peter Navarro, the former Trump trade adviser who authored discredited reports on election integrity during the final weeks of 2020; Kurt Hilbert, a lawyer who worked on Trump’s post-election litigation in Georgia; Linda Kerns, a lawyer who worked on Trump’s post-election lawsuit in Pennsylvania; former Georgia State Sen. William Ligon; Doug Logan, the CEO of far-right election “audit” firm Cyber Ninjas; and Russell Ramsland, who was involved with a review of voting machines in Antrim County, Michigan, that became the source of pro-Trump conspiracy theories.

Trump delivers his own Jan. 6 timeline at CNN town hall

Trump talked to Olsen three times Jan. 6, 2021, including twice in the evening for a total of 21 minutes, according to White House logs obtained by the Jan. 6 select committee. But the content of those calls, as Congress was poised to reconvene after the riot had been largely pacified, remains unknown.

Meanwhile, the state bar plans to call its own notable list of witnesses, beginning with Greg Jacob, who on Jan. 6 was counsel to then-Vice President Mike Pence. Jacob tangled with Eastman in the days before Jan. 6 over Eastman’s claim that Pence could single-handedly prevent Congress from certifying Joe Biden as the winner of the 2020 presidential election.

That theory is at the heart of the state’s case to punish Eastman on 11 professional charges, which include failure to support the laws and Constitution, seeking to mislead a court, misrepresentations to other Trump aides and the public, and moral turpitude.

“It is no overstatement that democracy stood on the precipice. Had Vice President Pence followed [Eastman’s] baseless advice … the country would have plunged into a ‘profound constitutional crisis,’” writes Duncan Carling of the California State Bar’s office of trial counsel in a pretrial brief. “[Eastman] and Trump’s plan violated our Nation’s most fundamental commitments to the rule of law and the orderly transition of power. And it rested upon transparently false claims of election fraud that continue to harm our democracy to this day.”

The bar proceedings, including a pretrial conference Monday and two weeks of testimony later in the month, are an example of the myriad forms of accountability facing those in Trump’s orbit Jan. 6 — particularly lawyers, whose roles are often shrouded in the murky domain of legal advice and attorney-client privilege. Though national attention has been riveted to the potential prosecutions of Trump and his allies in Washington and Georgia, state bars have also been marshaled to pursue investigations of these matters and in some cases have produced much quicker results.

For example, amid pressure from bar authorities in Colorado, Trump attorney Jenna Ellis admitted in March that she had repeatedly misrepresented evidence about the integrity of the 2020 election. Rudy Giuliani’s law license was suspended in December after D.C. bar discipline proceedings resulted in a finding that he violated professional ethics and rules. And former Justice Department attorney Jeffrey Clark is awaiting similar proceedings in Washington, which were cleared to proceed last week after an eight-month delay.

Eastman spent the final weeks of the Trump administration stoking false claims of election fraud in order to put pressure on GOP-led state legislatures to appoint alternate slates of presidential electors. In Eastman’s view, those alternate slates would form the basis of a dispute that only Pence could resolve Jan. 6, when he presided over the joint session of Congress to count electoral votes and finalize the results of the election.

But no state legislatures agreed to appoint those alternate electors. Instead, in five states, groups of pro-Trump activists signed false documents claiming to be legitimate presidential electors — but without the backing of their state governments, which had certified the results in favor of Biden. Eastman would ultimately change tack, arguing that the false electors presented enough of a controversy for Pence to decide which ones to count — or at the very least refuse to count Biden’s votes and call for a delay in finalizing the election to permit those GOP-run states to revisit the outcome.

Jacob and Pence fiercely rejected that strategy, which they contended would require violating several provisions of longstanding election law with no credible evidence to support reversing the outcome.

But Eastman, undeterred, fought with Jacob even as rioters — infuriated by Pence’s refusal to acquiesce to Trump’s pressure — ransacked the Capitol. Jacob testified to the Jan. 6 select committee about his interactions with Eastman, even as the riot raged, and his email correspondence with Eastman from that day formed some of the most compelling evidence about Eastman’s efforts. Jacob has also testified to a federal grand jury in Washington.

Efforts by the Jan. 6 select committee to obtain Eastman’s emails from his former employer, Chapman University, also resulted in one of the most remarkable court rulings of the post-Jan. 6 era: A federal judge’s determination that Eastman and Trump likely conspired to obstruct congressional proceedings and defraud the public. That ruling, by California-based jurist David Carter, was part of long-running litigation that gave the select committee access to thousands of Eastman’s emails, including some after Carter applied the “crime-fraud” exception to attorney-client privilege.

Former Justice Brown disqualified as expert for John Eastman [Updated]

Former Justice Brown disqualified as expert for John Eastman [Updated]

John Eastman, the attorney who faces possible disbarment by the California Supreme Court for his role in trying to overturn President Biden’s 2020 election, in March designated former California Supreme Court Justice — and former federal Court of Appeals Judge — Janice Rogers Brown as one of seven expert witnesses in the State Bar’s disciplinary proceedings against him. The Office of Chief Trial Counsel of the State Bar objected.

On Tuesday, a State Bar Court judge agreed with the OCTC.

In their expert witnesses designation, Eastman’s attorneys said that Brown was “expected to testify regarding her opinion that the California State Bar seems to be moving into unchartered [sic] territory with seeking to discipline an attorney on one side of a contentious legal fight.”

The judge’s order says, “Judge Brown’s opinion regarding the unprecedented nature of OCTC pursuing charges against Respondent is not relevant to the court’s determination of Respondent’s culpability for violating the Rules of Professional Conduct or Business and Professions Code.”

[May 26 update: Link to State Bar Court judge’s order added.]


James Mills on Law360 — Ex-Circ. Judge, Law Prof Barred From Eastman’s Ethics Case

John Eastman designates former Justice Janice Rogers Brown as an expert witness in his disciplinary proceeding

Former justices join call for State Bar disciplinary investigation of former president’s lawyer


The Dangerous Journey of John Eastman

How a mild-mannered law professor became the architect of a scheme to overturn a presidential election.

It’s hard to overstate how much trouble John Eastman is in. On January 6, 2021, he spoke to the “Save America” rally on the Washington Ellipse that led to the bloody attack on the Capitol by a mob of Donald Trump’s supporters. Since then, headline after headline has indicated actions taken or threatened against him: Only a few days after he spoke at the January 6 rally, three members of Chapman’s board demanded that he be disciplined. Soon after, the school announced that Eastman would retire and instead concentrate on his visiting professorship in “Conservative Thought and Policy” at the University of Colorado. The Colorado chancellor, meanwhile, said in a statement on January 7 that “[Eastman’s] continued advocacy of conspiracy theories is repugnant, and he will bear the shame for his role in undermining confidence in the rule of law.” Shortly after that, Colorado canceled Eastman’s classes for lack of enrollment and stripped him of his other duties.

On December 9, 2021, in a deposition taken by the staff of the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol, Eastman invoked the Fifth Amendment roughly 100 times. He invoked the Fifth again in an appearance in front of a Georgia grand jury investigating the Trump team’s efforts to pressure Georgia authorities into reversing the result in that state and awarding its electors to Trump.

On March 28, 2022, Judge David O. Carter of the Central District of California wrote in a published opinion that “it is more likely than not that President Trump and Dr. Eastman dishonestly conspired to obstruct the Joint Session of Congress on January 6, 2021”—that is, the official certification of the electoral vote totals that made Joe Biden president. If proved, Carter concluded, Eastman’s actions violated 18 U.S.C. § 371, which forbids conspiring to “defraud the United States,” by “dishonestly” conspiring to file false electoral votes for Trump from states carried by Biden. That statute provides a maximum of five years in prison. 

Then, in December 2022, the January 6th Committee, in its final report, issued a “criminal referral” against Eastman by name, proposing a federal indictment for violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1512(c). That statute forbids “corruptly” obstructing, influencing, or impeding “any official proceeding.” Although the committee suggests criminal referrals against Trump, or “President Trump and [unnamed] others,” six times, in only one of these referrals does it name another specific person as a potential defendant: John Eastman. 

In January of this year, the California State Bar Trial Counsel announced public proceedings to strip Eastman of his legal credentials. The bar’s complaint alleged six counts of “Moral Turpitude—Misrepresentation” in Eastman’s public statements alleging that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump; one count of “Seeking to Mislead a Court” because, as a lawyer for the Trump campaign, he signed a motion to join the Texas lawsuit asking the Supreme Court to overturn the election; and one count of “Failure to Support the Constitution and Laws of the United States,” because he allegedly tried to pressure then Vice President Mike Pence into rejecting the electors from states Biden won.


A Tale of Two Conservative Legal Scholars

Why did Michael Luttig stand up for democracy while John Eastman tried to burn it to the ground?

March 29, 2023


Epps sees Eastman’s transformation as a function of the compromises people are willing to make for power. And surely that’s part of it, too.

But what makes an Eastman turn out one way and a Luttig turn out the other? None of us can peer into their souls, obviously. But it seems that it’s a combination of traits.

  • Adherence to principle over search for power
  • Devotion to country over tribe
  • Living in reality and not abstract fantasy
  • Caution in place of recklessness

In other words: the virtues. Character is destiny. 


The Dangerous Journey of John Eastman

How a mild-mannered law professor became the architect of a scheme to overturn a presidential election.

I can’t help seeing Eastman’s story as a cautionary tale about the peril that awaits all of us when we venture out of the daily world of rules and norms and into the shadow world created by a figure like Trump, whose persistent message is that he is above the law—indeed, that the very idea of “law” is irrelevant to someone like him—and that if we follow him, we can be above the law as well.

I also think Eastman’s story tells us something about a serious wrong turn American conservatism took a quarter century ago, and about the dangerous path the Republican Party seeks to guide the nation on.


How The Fake Electors Scheme Explains Everything About Trump’s Attempt To Steal The 2020 Election

New materials illustrate why Fani Willis and Jack Smith have focused on this esoteric part of Trump’s plot.

Josh Kovensky

February 10, 2023

It presented an opportunity, Chesebro articulated in a series of memos sent from mid-November through December published by the panel: State legislatures could re-certify pro-Trump electors even if state officials had said that Biden was the winner. 

Aiding in this was John Eastman, a conservative movement attorney who had worked with Chesebro on a birthright citizenship case years before. 

On Nov. 23, Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) referenced Eastman’s role in developing the plot in a text to Meadows, saying that the professor was “proposing an approach that unlike what Sidney Powell has propose could be examined very quickly.”

The pressure campaign on Pence in the days leading up the Jan. 6 also involved the fake electors as a hinge point to make the plan work. Per plans developed by Eastman and obtained by the Jan. 6 committee, the idea was as follows: Pence, presiding over the joint session on Jan. 6, needed to cast away votes that were from Biden, allowing the House to reconsider while giving the states enough time to “certify” the Trump votes. Pence could then choose the “real,” pro-Trump electors. It appears there was broad understanding of this plot within Trumpworld, among friendly state officials, and even among Trump-supporting party activists. “Message should be: �Vice-President has the power to reject electors born of illegal votes� Then it�s about all illegal votes, intended fraud or unintended illegal voting … This doesn�t force the VP to say FRAUD … He doesn�t need to , ILLEGAL VOTES !,” wrote Marty Davis, a Minnesota quartz countertop magnate and GOP donor, in a message to Mark Meadows on Jan. 5, according to Meadows’ log.Eastman himself touted the plan in a Jan. 5 email to Greg Jacob, a Pence attorney. “This is huge, as it now looks like PA Legislature will vote to recertify its electors if Vice President Pence implements the plan we discussed,” Eastman wrote. As part of the pre-riot phase of the pressure campaign, organizers prepared a rally on the steps of the Supreme Court, TPM first reported and the Jan. 6 committee later confirmed. Directly across from the Capitol building, the rally would provide a staging ground for demonstrators to apply pressure directly to the legislators, and vice president, inside.Organizers pulled the plug on that rally as the Capitol was stormed.The Pence lawyer, Jacob, messaged Eastman as the mob stormed the Capitol.“Congress has debated submissions, including competing submissions. It has never once referred them out to state legislatures to decide,” he wrote, before adding, “And thanks to your bullshit, we are now under siege.”——-The infamous call that Trump placed to Raffensperger was in part focused on having Raffensperger re-certify the result. Instead of the Biden electors, Raffensperger would re-certify the Trump electors, sending them to Congress on Jan. 6.“Under the law you’re not allowed to give faulty election results, OK? You’re not allowed to do that. And that’s what you done,” Trump told Raffensperger on the infamous Jan. 2 phone call. “This is a faulty election result. And honestly, this should go very fast. You should meet tomorrow because you have a big election coming up and because of what you’ve done to the president.”

State Bar of California: “Attorney John Eastman Charged with Multiple Disciplinary Counts by the State Bar of California”


The State Bar of California’s Chief Trial Counsel George Cardona announced today the filing of a Notice of Disciplinary Charges (NDC) against attorney John Charles Eastman (State Bar No. 193726). 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.  

Specific charges allege that Eastman made false and misleading statements regarding purported election fraud, including statements on January 6, 2021, at a rally in Washington, D.C., that contributed to provoking a crowd to assault and breach the Capitol to intimidate then-Vice President Pence and prevent the electoral count from proceeding. 

The Office of Chief Trial Counsel (OCTC) intends to seek Eastman’s disbarment before the State Bar Court. 

In March 2022, Cardona invoked a public protection waiver to announce that an investigation of Eastman was underway. Eastman now faces multiple charges that he violated Business and Professions Code section 6106 by making false and misleading statements that constitute acts of “moral turpitude, dishonesty, and corruption.” 

“There is nothing more sacrosanct to our American democracy than free and fair elections and the peaceful transfer of power,” said Cardona. “For California attorneys, adherence to the U.S. and California Constitutions is their highest legal duty. The Notice of Disciplinary Charges alleges that Mr. Eastman violated this duty in furtherance of an attempt to usurp the will of the American people and overturn election results for the highest office in the land—an egregious and unprecedented attack on our democracy—for which he must be held accountable.”  

As has been widely reported, Eastman drafted two “legal memos” that laid out proposed strategies to block then-President-elect Joe Biden from taking office by circumventing established procedures for the counting of electoral votes in front of the U.S. Congress and overseen by Vice President Pence. The NDC alleges that the strategies proposed by these memos, as well as in remarks Eastman made publicly and privately to President Trump, Vice President Pence, and others, were unsupported by law, based on false and misleading assertions of fact, and designed for the purpose of keeping Trump in office. The NDC alleges that, after hearing from the U.S. Department of Justice that it had not seen any election fraud on a scale that could have affected the election’s outcome, and after multiple courts had rejected election fraud lawsuits, 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.  

The NDC also alleges that Eastman ignored these truths when he spoke at the “Save America March” on January 6, 2021, 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. 
A Notice of Disciplinary Charges filed by OCTC contains only allegations of professional misconduct. The licensee is presumed to be innocent of any misconduct warranting discipline until the charges have been proven. …

A legal reckoning awaits a chief architect of Donald Trump’s effort to reverse his election loss. But in Mr. Eastman’s telling, he was far from a criminal.

Jack Begg contributed reporting.


WASHINGTON — John C. Eastman, a legal architect of Donald J. Trump’s efforts to overturn his 2020 election loss, invoked the Fifth Amendment more than 100 times under questioning by the House Jan. 6 committee.

But in recently released testimony from the committee’s investigation, other witnesses had plenty to say about him.

Many White House lawyers expressed contempt for Mr. Eastman, portraying him as an academic with little grasp of the real world. Greg Jacob, the legal counsel to former Vice President Mike Pence, characterized Mr. Eastman’s legal advice as “gravely, gravely irresponsible,” calling him the “serpent in the ear” of Mr. Trump. Eric Herschmann, a Trump White House lawyer, recounted “chewing out” Mr. Eastman. Pat A. Cipollone, the chief White House counsel, is described calling Mr. Eastman’s ideas “nutty.”

In the coming months, Mr. Eastman will be facing a legal reckoning. He has been drawn into the criminal investigation into election interference in Atlanta, which is nearing a decision on potential indictments. The F.B.I. seized his iPhone. And the Jan. 6 committee, in one of its last acts, asked the Justice Department to investigate Mr. Eastman on a range of criminal charges, including obstructing a congressional proceeding. For good measure, he faces a disciplinary bar proceeding in California.

A once-obscure scholar at the right-wing Claremont Institute, Mr. Eastman joined the Trump camp shortly after the election and was soon among a group of lawyers who, with the president’s blessing, largely commandeered decision-making from lawyers at the White House and on the Trump campaign.

He championed a two-pronged strategy that the Jan. 6 committee portrayed as a coup plot. The first was enlisting party officials to organize slates of bogus electors in swing states where Mr. Trump lost, even after the results had been certified and recertified, as in Georgia. The second was pressuring Mr. Pence to deviate from the vice president’s traditionally ceremonial role and decline to certify all the electoral votes on Jan. 6.

While Mr. Eastman refused to answer most of the committee’s questions, he has hardly been at a loss for words. At the “Stop the Steal” rally on Jan. 6, 2021, held on the Ellipse moments before Trump supporters marched toward the Capitol, he spoke ominously of stolen elections, voting machine chicanery and ballots stuffed in a “secret folder.” Over the last two years he has remained defiant in a string of public appearances and interviews, and painted a picture sharply at odds with other accounts, most notably those of Mr. Pence and two of his aides who cooperated with the House committee.

In Mr. Eastman’s telling of the lead-up to the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, he was far from a criminal. In fact, in a recent interview — a fuller version of one he gave to The New York Times in the fall of 2021 — he says he was helping to head off a potentially more perilous outcome.

He claims that in an Oval Office meeting on Jan. 4, he helped convince Mr. Trump that Mr. Pence did not have the power to pick whomever he wanted as president. And Mr. Eastman said his advice to the president and vice president was only that Mr. Pence should pause the certification of the election, giving legislatures more time to consider fraud allegations in certain states where Mr. Trump had lost.

“I think my greatest contribution to this conversation is to have backed Trump away from the notion that Pence could just simply gavel him as re-elected,” Mr. Eastman said during the interview at his lawyer’s office in Washington, just blocks from the White House. “And, you know, you look at some of his tweets before that Jan. 4 meeting, he’s saying things like that, because that’s what people out there are saying. But if you look at his speech on Jan. 6, after I weigh in at that meeting, he’s saying exactly the opposite.”

Few in the White House, however, saw him as anything close to a voice of moderation amid the riot that followed. And Mr. Eastman’s account differs in significant ways from those provided by Mr. Pence and his aides.

The former vice president refused to cooperate with the Jan. 6 committee but addressed the issue in a recent opinion essay in The Wall Street Journal. Mr. Pence wrote that on Jan. 5, a day after first meeting with Mr. Eastman in the Oval Office, Mr. Trump summoned the vice president for another meeting where “the president’s lawyers, including Mr. Eastman, were now requesting that I simply reject the electors.”

He said that he “later learned that Mr. Eastman had conceded to my general counsel that rejecting electoral votes was a bad idea and any attempt to do so would be quickly overturned by a unanimous Supreme Court. This guy didn’t even believe what he was telling the president.”

The crux of Mr. Eastman’s defense is that he was simply a lawyer offering advice, and that he was acting in good faith, since he still believes many of the fraud claims that were made. “I’m not backing down on that,” he said. “I mean, the amount of evidence, even if I’m wrong about it, was certainly enough to have warranted further review.”

Asked what he based such claims on, he cited a report issued last year by Michael J. Gableman, a former Wisconsin judge who was hired, and later fired, by the Republican speaker of the Wisconsin State Assembly, Robin Vos. The report endorsed a host of debunked claims. He also cited the deeply flawed documentary “2000 Mules,” directed by Dinesh D’Souza, a conservative activist who once pleaded guilty to felony campaign finance fraud. (He was later pardoned by Mr. Trump.)

In recent weeks, Mr. Eastman has continued to assert himself as a far-right stalwart, signing a letter endorsing dissident Republicans’ ultimately failed efforts to block Representative Kevin McCarthy of California from becoming speaker of the House. Among the other signatories to the letter was Virginia Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, for whom Mr. Eastman once clerked. In her own testimony to the Jan. 6 committee, Ms. Thomas referred to Mr. Eastman as “an active participant with the ‘Thomas clique’ clerks” who keep in touch.

Perhaps Mr. Eastman’s most immediate potential exposure comes in the criminal investigation into election interference in Fulton County, Ga., which encompasses most of Atlanta. One of Mr. Eastman’s lawyers said last year that his client was “probably a target” in the inquiry, but his lawyers said this month that he had received no notification that he is one.

Robert Sinners, the Trump campaign’s state director of Election Day operations in Georgia, testified to the Jan. 6 committee that he later felt “ashamed” at having taken part in the plan orchestrated by Mr. Eastman and Rudolph W. Giuliani, Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, to assemble bogus slates of Trump electors in Georgia and other states that Mr. Trump had lost.

“I don’t think Rudy Giuliani’s intent was ever about legal challenges,” he said. “It was clear to me that he was working with folks like John Eastman and wanted to put pressure on the vice president to accept these slates of electors just regardless, without any approval from a governor, without any approval from, you know, the voters or a court, or anything like that.”

Clark D. Cunningham, a professor at Georgia State University College of Law, said in an email that “if Sinner’s testimony, or similar testimony, is deemed credible, then John Eastman faces considerable risk of prosecution.”

“If Eastman was part of a conspiracy to trick Georgia citizens into signing false election documents, neither his role as an attorney nor a personal belief that election results were tainted by fraud could justify such criminal conduct,” he added.

In addition to his central role in the electors plan, Mr. Eastman appeared remotely before a Georgia State Senate panel on Dec. 3, 2020, and made several false claims about the election. Among them was the assertion that “the number of underaged individuals who were allowed to register” in the state “amounts allegedly up to approximately 66,000 people.”

Asked about the claim during the interview last month, Mr. Eastman said that he had relied on a consultant who made an error that was later corrected, and that the actual number was about 2,000 who “were only 16 when they registered.” The new figure, he said, came from the same consultant. In a statement, the Georgia Secretary of State’s office said that “the system literally does not allow a person to register if they don’t have a birth date that makes them at least 17.5 years old.”

A review of the data used by Mr. Eastman showed that he was referring to any Georgians who were recorded as having registered early going back to the 1920s; data entry errors appeared to be a common culprit, with many people’s registration year listed in place of their birth year. A review by The Times found only about a dozen Georgians who were recorded as having registered in 2020 when they were 16, in what appeared most likely to be another data-entry problem.

Norman Eisen, special counsel to the House Judiciary Committee during the first Trump impeachment and co-author of a lengthy report on the Fulton County inquiry, said Mr. Eastman “was referred for criminal prosecution by the Jan. 6 committee, with good reason,” adding that if charges are brought in Georgia “it’s hard to imagine that D.A. Fani Willis does not include him.”


Final Report of the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol

Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on the State of the Union and ordered to be printed.

December 22, 2022.



The findings of the Committee include the following:

. . . .

3. Despite knowing that such an action would be illegal, and that no State had or would submit an altered electoral slate, Donald Trump corruptly pressured Vice President Mike Pence to refuse to count electoral votes during Congress’s joint session on January 6th.

5. Without any evidentiary basis and contrary to State and Federal law, Donald Trump unlawfully pressured State and legislators to change the results of the election in their States.

6. Donald Trump oversaw an effort to obtain and transmit false electoral certificates to Congress and the National Archives.

7. Donald Trump pressured Members of Congress to object to valid slates of electors from several states.

8. Donald Trump purposely verified false information filed in Federal court.

. . . .

12. Each of these actions by Donald Trump was taken in support of a multi-part conspiracy to overturn the lawful results of the 2020 election.

Concerning John Eastman’s role, the Executive Summary of the January 6th Report states in part:

Rather than concede, Donald Trump chose to to try to overturn the 2020 presidential election by taking specific steps, including:

  1. John Eastman’s plan whereby Vice President Pence would, as the presiding officer, declare that certain electoral votes from certain states could not be counted at the joint session of Congress on January 6, 2021. (The Committee pointedly observed that prior to the electionEastman had specifically disagreed with the constitutionality of such a plan.)
  2. Eastman’s plan was related to other efforts overseen by President Trump to create and transmit fake electoral slates to Congress and the National Archives, and to pressure States to change the election outcomes and issue new electoral slates, targeting every tier of federal and state elected officials.
  3. The Committee observed that Trump, Eastman and others proceeded with such the fake elector scheme despite the fact that all major law election lawsuits had failed.
  4. Eastman acknowledged to others that Pence could not lawfully do what he proposed and that the U.S, Supreme Court would unanimously reject his legal theory. 
  5. But as January 6th approached, and against opposition from all White House lawyers, Trump nevertheless embraced the Eastman’s theories despite having been repeatedly advised that the Vice President’s role was only ministerial (i.e., limited to opening Electoral College certificates and counting the votes recorded therein). 
  6. One minute after Trump tweeted accusing Pence of cowardice for having failed to do the “right” thing, the Secret Service determined that they could no longer protect the Vice President in his ceremonial role near the Senate Chamber, and evacuated the Vice President to a secure location, missing the violent mob by a mere 40 feet.
  7. The day after the attack on the Capitol, Eastman called White house lawyer Eric Herschmann to talk about continuing litigation on behalf of the Trump Presidential Campaign in Georgia. Herschmann described his reaction to Eastman this way:
    • And I said to him, are you out of your F’ing mind? Right? I said, because I only want to hear two words coming out of your mouth from now on: Orderly transition. I said, I don’t want to hear any other F’ing words coming out of your mouth, no matter what, other than orderly transition. Repeat those words to me,
  8. Herschmann concluded the call by telling Eastman: “Now I am going to give you the best free legal advice you’re ever getting in your life. Get a great F’ing criminal defense lawyer, you’re going to need it,” and hanging up the phone.
  9. A federal district judge concluded in a civil proceeding that Eastman (like Trump) likely violated criminal laws against conspiring to defraud the United States pr obstructing, impeding or influencing Congress’s official proceeding to count electoral votes or both.  
  10. The federal district judge concluded that “Dr. Eastman and President Trump launched a campaign to overturn a democratic election, an action unprecedented in American history.’

Jan. 6 committee refers Trump to Justice Dept. for criminal charges

The decision — an unprecedented move for Congress — came as the panel released a summary of its final report and met publicly for the last time


The criminal referrals were a major escalation for a congressional investigation that is the most significant in a generation. The panel named five other Trump allies — Mark Meadows, his final chief of staff, and the lawyers Rudolph W. Giuliani, John Eastman, Jeffrey Clark and Kenneth Chesebro — as potential co-conspirators with Mr. Trump in actions the committee said warranted Justice Department investigation. 


Giuliani Faces Disbarment In State Hearing Underway This Week—Sidney Powell, Lin Wood And Other 2020 Election Attorneys Could Be Next

A disciplinary hearing against Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani is taking place this week, as the lawyer faces the prospect of being disbarred for bringing litigation trying to overturn the 2020 election—and other attorneys are likely to follow, as more bar complaints and investigations remain ongoing against major 2020 election attorneys like Sidney Powell, Lin Wood and John Eastman.


Rudy Giuliani: Giuliani is now facing a hearing by the D.C. Bar’s Office of Disciplinary Counsel—which is part of a multi-step process and will not immediately result in consequences—after a D.C. court and a New York court have already temporarily suspended his law license in both those jurisdictions.

Sidney Powell: Powell, who brought lawsuits in four battleground states alleging election fraud, will go to trial on April 24, 2023, in litigation brought against her by the Commission for Lawyer Discipline at the Texas State Bar, court documents show, which could result in her being disbarred or otherwise punished for professional misconduct.

Lin Wood: Wood, who brought litigation challenging Georgia’s election and also participated in some of Powell’s lawsuits, is under investigation by the State Bar of Georgia, which the bar confirmed to Forbes Tuesday is still pending after its disciplinary board shot down Wood’s attempt to dismiss the complaint against him in August, but no hearing date has yet been set.

John Eastman: Eastman aided former President Donald Trump’s efforts to stop Congress from certifying the election on January 6, prompting an ethics investigation by the State Bar of California, which the bar confirmed to Forbes is still underway after being publicly announced in March.

Ken Paxton: The Texas attorney general was sued by the state bar’s disciplinary counsel in May over the lawsuit he filed at the Supreme Court seeking to overturn the election—causing him to retaliate against the bar as a result—and that lawsuit remains pending, though a separate complaint against his deputy attorney general was dismissed in September.

Jeffrey Clark: The former DOJ official, who aided Trump’s attempts to overturn the election from within the agency, faces a pending complaint from the D.C. Bar that was brought against him in July, and Clark asked a federal court to block the complaint in October, arguing the D.C. Bar doesn’t have jurisdiction to bring the complaint.


Giuliani’s hearing that’s now ongoing is scheduled to wrap up by the end of next week, at which point the hearing committee at the D.C. Bar’s Board on Professional Responsibility will issue a non-binding recommendation on what punishment Giuliani should face. The case will go on to ultimately be decided by the D.C. Court of Appeals, a process that the Washington Post notes could still take months to go through. Under the bar’s rules for disciplinary action, Giuliani could face a range of punishments, from being permanently disbarred to just being formally censured or reprimanded or being put on probation. His law license in Washington, D.C., is still suspended, the D.C. Bar’s database shows, but that suspension is only temporary, so the D.C. Bar’s disciplinary process will determine whether Giuliani could have his license revoked permanently or if he could be allowed to practice law again.


Giuliani has continued to defend his actions as a lawyer in testimony over the first two days of his hearing against him and decried the attempt to punish him for his post-election litigation. “I am shocked and offended this is happening to me,” Giuliani said on Tuesday. Other post-election lawyers have similarly remained defiant despite the action being taken against them, with Powell telling Forbes in June that the action being taken against her by the Texas State Bar “should concern every practicing lawyer because now any lawyer can be subjected to the extraordinary harassment and expense of lawfare directed specifically at his or her law license whenever the other side disagrees with a filing.”


Which other 2020 election attorneys will face investigations and disciplinary proceedings. Activist group The 65 Project, which is dedicated to taking action against lawyers who helped efforts to overturn the election, is targeting 111 lawyers in 26 states, and has filed ethics complaints with state bars in an effort to have the attorneys punished. Those complaints have been filed as recently as October, so it may take months before they result in public reports of any concrete action. Among those who have had complaints brought against them—but have not yet been announced as being actively under investigation or sued by disciplinary committees—are Trump campaign attorney Jenna EllisCleta Mitchell, who participated in Trump’s call asking Georgia officials to “find” enough votes to overturn the election; Boris Epshteyn, who continues to advise Trump on legal issues; and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who pushed Trump’s false claims of election fraud and offered to represent the Trump campaign in post-election cases at the Supreme Court.


Giuliani and many of the other right-wing attorneys now facing consequences were behind more than 60 lawsuits in the aftermath of the 2020 election that broadly challenged results in battleground states, which were nearly all unsuccessful except for one minor lawsuit in Pennsylvania. The disciplinary actions being brought by state bars are part of a broader range of consequences those attorneys have faced for their actions in the two years since the election, which have so far also included lawyers such as Powell and Wood being sanctioned in federal court in Michigan and a series of defamation lawsuits brought by voting machine companies that Powell and her allies accused of fraud. The ethics complaint against Giuliani, which was brought by the bar after his D.C. license had already been suspended, was largely focused on the lawsuit the Trump campaign brought in Pennsylvania challenging its results, with Giuliani representing the campaign. That litigation failed in court multiple times, with a district judge declaring the campaign’s legal argument was “not how the Constitution works.”


Giuliani ‘weaponized’ law license in Trump election suit, D.C. Bar argues (Washington Post)

Rudy Giuliani Defends Failed Trump 2020 Election Challenge in DC Ethics Case (Bloomberg)

Sidney Powell Could Still Be Disbarred As Court Lets Case Against Her Move Forward (Forbes)

Campaign Targets 111 Trump-Linked Election Lawyers. Here’s Some Already Facing A Backlash. (Forbes)

With Giuliani’s Law License Suspended, Here Are The Other Trump Lawyers Who May Face Discipline Next (Forbes)



Letters from an American, Heather Scott Smith

Nov. 3, 2022

Yesterday morning, Kyle Cheney, Josh Gerstein, and Nicholas Wu of Politico reported more about the eight emails lawyer John Eastman, who wrote the memo outlining a plan by which then–vice president Mike Pence could steal the 2020 election for Donald Trump, tried to hide from the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol. The emails included discussions between Eastman, fellow Trump lawyer Kenneth Chesebro, and others about how to stop Congress from counting the certified 2020 electoral ballots on January 6, 2021.

In the emails, Chesebro urged arranging to get a case before Justice Clarence Thomas on the Supreme Court so he could issue a stay that would cast doubt on the legitimacy of the election in Georgia. They should “frame things so that Thomas could be the one to issue some sort of stay or other circuit justice opinion saying Georgia is in legitimate doubt.” Thomas oversees the circuit court that includes Georgia, and he would “end up being key” to getting Biden’s victory overturned.

Eastman responded: “I think I agree with this.” Such a move by Thomas could “kick the Georgia legislature into gear.”

As a young lawyer, Eastman clerked for Thomas, and Dan Froomkin of PressWatchers noted that Eastman and others were in this same period of time writing to Thomas’s wife, Ginni, who was urging state legislators to overturn the election by submitting fake slates of electors.

Froomkin pointed to a New York Times article from June 15, 2022, which explained that on December 24, 2020, five days after Trump had announced a “protest” at the Ellipse to be held on January 6, Eastman wrote to Chesebro that Eastman had heard there was a “heated fight” among the Supreme Court justices about whether they should take up the election issue. Chesebro replied that the “odds of action before Jan. 6 will become more favorable if the justices start to fear that there will be ‘wild’ chaos on Jan. 6 unless they rule by then, either way.”

So we seem to have a deliberate attempt to throw a court case to Justice Clarence Thomas, whose wife was urging the overthrow of the election, and to pressure the Supreme Court to act by creating chaos in the streets, all in order to keep former president Trump in the White House.


Trump signed statement alleging voter fraud knowing it was false, judge says

Document was part of lawsuit challenging results of 2020 election in Georgia

Oct. 19, 2022

Donald Trump signed a legal statement alleging voter fraud in the 2020 election despite being told the numbers underpinning the case were false, a federal judge said on Wednesday.

The disclosure was made by the US district judge David Carter, who ordered John Eastman, a former Trump lawyer, to provide more emails to the congressional committee investigating the January 6 attack on the US Capitol.

Eastman was one of Trump’s attorneys when the former president and his allies challenged his 2020 election loss to Joe Biden.

The legal document was part of a lawsuit by Trump’s team challenging the results in Georgia, a state Trump narrowly lost to Biden, in which they claimed a Georgia county had improperly counted more than 10,000 votes of dead people, felons and unregistered voters.

In an 18-page opinion, Carter said that the former president had “signed a verification swearing under oath” that the inaccurate fraud numbers were “true and correct” or “believed to be true and correct” to the best of his knowledge.

“The emails show that President Trump knew that the specific numbers of voter fraud were wrong but continued to tout those numbers, both in court and to the public,” the judge wrote, adding: “The Court finds that these emails are sufficiently related to and in furtherance of a conspiracy to defraud the United States.”

Carter previously ruled that Eastman and Trump had probably committed a felony by trying to pressure his then vice-president, Mike Pence, to obstruct Congress.

The ruling was made in a lawsuit filed by Eastman to block disclosure of the emails to the January 6 select committee, following a congressional subpoena.

Carter previously ordered Eastman to provide over 200 emails to the committee, after the lawyer resisted the subpoena and claimed that the communications were privileged.

The judge said on Wednesday that the vast majority of emails still being sought by congressional investigators should not be handed over, as legal protections given to attorneys and their clients apply to the records.

He said eight emails that would normally be shielded under those protections must be given to the committee, after he found that the communications were in furtherance of a crime – one of the few times those legal safeguards can be lifted.

Carter found that four emails show that Eastman and other lawyers suggested that the “primary goal” of filing lawsuits was to delay Congress’s certification of the 2020 election results.

The judge said four other emails “demonstrate an effort by President Trump and his attorneys to press false claims in federal court for the purpose of delaying the January 6 vote”.

At one point, Eastman wrote that although the former president had signed documents related to a lawsuit in Georgia on 1 December, “he has since been made aware that some of the allegations (and evidence proffered by the experts) has been inaccurate. For him to sign a new verification with that knowledge (and incorporation by reference) would not be accurate.”

Carter wrote: “President Trump and his attorneys ultimately filed the complaint with the same inaccurate numbers without rectifying, clarifying, or otherwise changing them.”

Trump and his allies filed over 60 lawsuits challenging the 2020 election, with some complaints alleging voter fraud without evidence to support those claims. Those cases were overwhelmingly rejected by judges, some of which Trump appointed to the federal courts.

The January 6 select committee last week voted to subpoena Trump in its investigation. It is expected to issue a report in the coming weeks on its findings.


How to Ensure Accountability for the Legal Foot Soldiers of Jan. 6


Former Trump lawyer John Eastman pleads the 5th (yes, again)

Former Trump lawyer John Eastman had already pleaded the Fifth as part of the Jan. 6 investigation. Yesterday, he did so again in a different case.


By any fair measure, John Eastman is having a bad week. It was in late June when the Republican lawyer who served as a key architect of Donald Trump’s anti-election plot, was greeted by FBI agents who executed a search warrant and seized his phone. Eastman made a series of allegations against the Justice Department and sought a court hearing.

As my MSNBC colleague Ja’han Jones explained, a federal judge this week scrapped the hearing, concluding that there wasn’t any point to considering Eastman’s suspect claims.

And while that was no doubt disappointing for the controversial attorney, it wasn’t the only discouraging development. NBC News reported:

Former Trump lawyer John Eastman invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and cited attorney-client privilege Wednesday when he appeared before a Fulton County grand jury investigating attempts to influence the 2020 election in Georgia, his attorneys said.


I’m mindful of the fact that Trump World is filled with assorted figures, and there may be some readers asking right now, “Wait, which one is John Eastman?” So let’s revisit our recent coverage and review why he’s significant.

In theory, we should barely be aware of the Republican lawyer’s existence. After all, before joining Team Trump — the then-president saw him on Fox News and was impressed — Eastman was a rather obscure figure.

Even after Donald Trump’s defeat, Eastman, at least on paper, shouldn’t have been especially relevant. He didn’t work in the White House counsel’s office. He wasn’t the attorney general. He had no office in the Justice Department. Eastman was, as MSNBC’s Chris Hayes recently described him on the air, a well-credentialed crank.

But the radical lawyer had one important thing going for him: The sitting president of the United States was eager to buy what Eastman was selling, and everyone around Trump quickly realized that the attorney’s views represented their boss’ views.

As a matter of law and politics, the lawyer may have been a fringe operator, better suited for a role on a far-right, C-list podcast than a seat in the Oval Office, but in the aftermath of Election Day 2020, Trump didn’t much care.

Why not? Because as the Jan. 6 committee’s recent hearings have helped prove, Eastman helped concoct an illegal scheme — a scheme Eastman knew to be illegal — that the then-president saw as an avenue to keeping power he hadn’t legitimately earned.

Eastman was not, however, merely a behind-the-scenes author of a ridiculous memo. The Republican lawyer also effectively played the role of a lobbyist, advocating on behalf of a plot he recognized as illegal, pleading with officials to go along with his plot, and even appearing at a pre-riot Jan. 6 rally to espouse his outlandish ideas to Trump’s radicalized followers.

As part of these efforts, Eastman also delivered remote testimony to a Georgia state Senate panel on Dec. 3, 2020, and peddled a variety of demonstrably false claims about the election results. The lawyer even told state lawmakers at the time that “the election can’t be validly certified.”

Fortunately, Eastman failed, but the fact that he tried is of ongoing interest to state law enforcement investigators examining possible election interference. It’s why he was subpoenaed to testify, leading to him repeatedly pleading the Fifth yesterday.

It was not the first time. Eastman also reportedly pleaded the Fifth months ago with the Jan. 6 committee — by some accounts, roughly 100 times.

Let’s also note for context that before Trump left office, Eastman sent Rudy Giuliani an email, declaring, “I’ve decided that I should be on the pardon list, if that is still in the works.” (He may have feared prosecution, but he never received a pardon.)

As for the list of high-profile figures from Team Trump who’ve pleaded the Fifth recently, let’s circle back to our earlier coverage and review:

  • Donald Trump pleaded the Fifth last month, as part of a New York investigation into his allegedly fraudulent business practices.
  • Eric Trump, in this same civil case, reportedly invoked the Fifth Amendment in response to more than 500 questions.
  • Roger Stone, a longtime Trump adviser and GOP operative, said two weeks later that he also pleaded the Fifth.
  • Alex Jones, by his own admission, pleaded the Fifth nearly 100 times when the professional conspiracy theorist sat down with congressional investigators.
  • Jeffrey Clark, a former Justice Department official, also pleaded the Fifth, reportedly more than 100 times.
  • Michael Flynn, the beneficiary of a Trump pardon despite having previously pleaded guilty to felonies, pleaded the Fifth in response to investigators’ questions in March.
  • John Eastman, a Republican lawyer who allegedly played a leading role in the overall coup scheme, reportedly pleaded the Fifth with both the Jan. 6 committee and a Georgia special grand jury.

“The mob takes the Fifth Amendment,” Donald Trump said in 2016, deriding those who assert their right against self-incrimination. “If you’re innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?”

The relevance of the quote continues to linger.


Eastman appears before Atlanta-area grand jury probing Trump election scheme

Eastman, along with other Trump-aligned attorneys, pushed state legislatures to appoint pro-Trump presidential electors in a handful of states where Joe Biden was the certified winner.

Eastman’s counsel, Charles Burnham and Harvey Silvergate, indicated in a statement that Eastman pleaded the Fifth and asserted attorney-client privilege “where appropriate.”


Charles Kesler Sees the Light

The Claremont Institute’s intellectual impresario belatedly admits his colleague John Eastman gave Trump bad advice.
Here’s what he still can’t bring himself to say.
Laura K. Field is a senior fellow at the Niskanen Center and a scholar in residence at American University. 
AUGUST 25, 2022

It only took 1 year, 6 months, and 18 days, but Charles R. Kesler, the intellectual impresario of the Claremont Institute, has finally gone on the record declaring that he does not agree with his colleague John C. Eastman’s discredited legal theories or with Donald Trump’s lies about the 2020 election.

Kesler is the founding editor of the conservative institute’s flagship publication, the Claremont Review of Books, and he is, as Elisabeth Zerofsky put it in a New York Times Magazine article about Claremont from earlier this month, “widely regarded, at 65, as the institute’s éminence grise.” (He is also a professor at Claremont McKenna College, which has no formal affiliation with the Claremont Institute.)

It is in Zerofsky’s article, and in a Washington Post article by Marc Fisher and Isaac Stanley-Becker, that Kesler at last concedes, after eighteen months of evasion and coyness, that Eastman and Trump were wrong.

. . .
Read More

You can read more about Kesler’s book in this tense exchange between Kesler and Shep Melnick, a professor at Boston College. Kesler indignantly denies that his mode of thinking provides cover for extremist action. But if that’s the case, why shouldn’t he call out proponents of extremism at Claremont?

For one thing, for Kesler to speak out against them publicly would put him in flagrant contradiction with the people in charge—people who have brought the institute into a position of greater national influence. This would take courage—not only because he could lose friendships, and his standing among Trumpist intellectuals, and perhaps even his well-compensated position at the institute, but also because he would have to admit his own complicity in something extreme and destructive—a tough psychological proposition for anyone.

One final note: While these days Kesler would like to take credit for closing Pandora’s box, remember that he helped pry open the lid when he published Michael Anton’s widely read pseudonymous essay, “The Flight 93 Election,” in 2016. Anton’s essay made an intellectualized case for electing Trump that equated the possibility of a Hillary Clinton victory with the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Rush Limbaugh seized on the essay and read excerpts on his radio show, which caused it to go viral; its subsequent reception set the stage for the growth of the New Right intellectual movement that has been part of American politics ever since—all the while providing a boon to the Claremont Institute.

It must be said that any late concessions New Right intellectuals want to make to the truth of what happened in the 2020 election and on Jan. 6th are welcome. But what Charles Kesler and his intellectual confreres continue to avoid in their discussions of those events is the role they themselves played in fomenting the unrest that attended them. The consequences continue to buffet the country: Widespread distrust in electoral processes, especially among Republicans; a rise in militant and dehumanizing rhetoric, especially on the right; and the growing threat and reality of right-wing violence.

“A lot of us have now staked our reputations on the claims of election fraud,” wrote John Eastman in an email from late January 2021. Charles Kesler didn’t stake his reputation on claims about election fraud, but he didn’t exactly not do that either. And he did, at least in part, stake his reputation on Anton and Trump back in 2016. He should be held accountable in the public mind for these choices—if not “throughout eternity,” then at least while Claremont is enjoying the national spotlight.

The stakes are too high, and the broader American reality too precarious, for waffling words and easy ways out.


This afternoon, Representative Scott Perry (R-PA) said the FBI has confiscated his phone after presenting him with a search warrant.

Perry was deeply involved in the attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 election. He connected former president Trump with Jeffrey Clark, the environmental lawyer for the Department of Justice (DOJ) who supported Trump’s claims and who would have become acting attorney general if the leadership of the DOJ hadn’t threatened to resign as a group if Trump appointed him.

Cassidy Hutchinson, former top aide to Trump’s White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, told the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol that Meadows burned papers after a meeting with Perry.

The DOJ searched Clark’s home in June. On the same day, it seized the phone of John Eastman, the author of the memo laying out a plan for then–vice president Mike Pence to refuse to count presidential electors for Democratic candidate Joe Biden and thus throw the election to Trump.

Eastman sued to get his phone back and to force the government to destroy any information agents had taken from it; the Department of Justice says the phone was obtained legally and that purging it would be “unprecedented” and “would cause substantial detriment to the investigation, as well as seriously impede any grand jury’s use of the seized material in a future charging decision.” A court hearing on the matter is scheduled for early September.


Letters from an American, Heather Scott Richardson

August 3, 2022

Tonight another piece of information about that lie came from Maggie Haberman and Luke Broadwater, who reported in the New York Times that John Eastman, the lawyer who produced the memo explaining the plan to have then–vice president Mike Pence overturn the 2020 presidential election, told Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani that they must continue to fight even after January 6, suggesting they contest Georgia’s election of Jon Ossoff and the Reverend Raphael Warnock to the Senate in the hope that those races might yield the evidence of voter fraud that until then they hadn’t found. “A lot of us have now staked our reputations on the claims of election fraud, and this would be a way to gather proof,” he wrote.

Eastman also asked Giuliani to help him collect a $270,000 fee from the Trump campaign for his work on overturning the election, and he implied that the effort could be ongoing.

Way back in 2004, an advisor to President George W. Bush told journalist Ron Suskind that people like Suskind were in “the reality-based community”: they believed people could find solutions based on their observations and careful study of discernible reality. But, the aide continued, such a worldview was obsolete. “That’s not the way the world really works anymore…. We are an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors…and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”

I wonder if reality is starting to reassert itself.


 Here’s a test to see whether Supreme Court justices are above the law

The 65 Project, a bipartisan group dedicated to disbarring lawyers who filed frivolous cases related to the 2020 election, or who otherwise participated in the coup attempt, has been very busy in recent months. It filed a series of complaints against advisers of defeated former president Donald Trump, including Jenna Ellis, Boris Epshteyn, Cleta Mitchell, John Eastman and Joseph diGenova, as well as two lawyers who signed on to be fake electors and two lawyers who participated in the events of Jan. 6, 2o21.

Now, the group is making its most ambitious move yet: It is filing a specific demand with the Supreme Court to kick Eastman, the chief architect of the coup plot, out of the elite Supreme Court Bar (lawyers eligible to argue in the highest court). And it has requested that Justice Clarence Thomas recuse himself from the disciplinary proceeding because of the role that Thomas’s wife, Ginni Thomas, played in the 2020 scheme.

The complaint, made available to me before it was filed, states that Eastman “bolstered and amplified” claims not backed by evidence or the law. It also alleges that Eastman “actively participated in an effort to undermine our elections – a scheme that led to the gravest attack on American democracy since the Civil War.”

The complaint describes five “spokes” in the coup plot, all of which included Eastman. They include litigating the 65 bogus lawsuits; arranging slates of phony electors in seven states; pressuring Vice President Mike Pence to reject electoral votes; pressuring state lawmakers to overturn votes or rescind electors; and summoning “Trump’s supporters to Washington, D.C. and, having spent months lying to them about fraud and a stolen election, sending them to the Capitol, agitated and armed, to stop the electoral vote count.”

After a detailed review of facts revealed in the Jan. 6 hearings and in reporting, the group argues that Eastman’s conduct warrants expulsion from the Supreme Court Bar as well as the loss of his California legal license. The complaint amounts to a handy guide not only to Eastman’s professional violations, but also to facts that might be the basis for criminal charges in state and federal court.

Michael Teter, the 65 Project’s managing director, tells me, “If Mr. Eastman is allowed to continue to remain a member of the highest court in the United States despite the undisputed facts regarding his actions, the American public’s quickly eroding confidence in the Supreme Court will deteriorate even faster.”

But that’s not even the most intriguing part. Citing the obligation for federal judges to recuse themselves from proceedings in which their impartiality “might reasonably be questioned” or in which the judge has personal bias or knowledge of the facts (including spouses with an interest), the complaint asks the Supreme Court — specifically Justice Thomas — to adhere to the rules (which is not mandatory for justices to follow), since the disciplinary matter concerns “public confidence in the judicial system’s integrity.”

The complaint argues that Ginni Thomas “played a significant role in pursuing many of the same post-election strategies as Mr. Eastman.” It recites her text exchanges with then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and her effort to pressure Arizona lawmakers, including a former Thomas clerk, to overturn the presidential vote. The complaint also notes that Ginni Thomas attended the “Stop the Steal” rally in D.C. on Jan. 6 and later wrote to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) denigrating the House select committee’s investigation of the attack on the Capitol. (Thomas previously stated she only briefly attended the rally.)

The recusal request concludes:

In short, Ms. Thomas participated in the concerted effort to overturn the 2020 presidential election. She supported Mr. Eastman’s efforts and conferred with him as Mr. Eastman engaged in scheme described by a federal court as a likely criminal conspiracy. She used her relationships with several other of Justice Thomas’s former clerks to further push the effort to subvert American democracy.

At a moment when the Jan. 6 committee is considering issuing a subpoena for Ginni Thomas based on exactly the same set of facts, the complaint raises questions as to why she has not cooperated and why her husband did not recuse himself from Jan. 6-related cases. (Justice Thomas has been roundly criticized for failing to do so when the court ordered the National Archives produce documents to the committee. He was the lone dissenter.)

Teter argues his complaint is an opportunity for the court to improve its image. A decision by Justice Thomas to recuse himself from the matter, he says, would be “an important first step toward the Court’s regaining some of its legitimacy.”

The court might not entertain the complaint or the recusal request. But if it chooses to ignore them, new questions about its integrity inevitably will arise. As for Ginni Thomas, both the Justice Department and Jan. 6 select committee should hear from her. Her refusal to talk to the committee is as egregious as her husband’s failure to recuse himself. It’s time to test whether a Supreme Court justice and his wife are above the law.

Feds get new warrant to search contents of pro-Trump lawyer’s phone

The development came in response to a legal effort by John Eastman to block investigators in the Jan. 6 probe from “rummaging” through his files.

The Justice Department revealed on Wednesday that it had obtained a new search warrant to access the contents of attorney John Eastman’s phone, which it seized from the pro-Trump lawyer last month before transporting it to a lab in Virginia.

The development, filed in court via Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Windom, came in response to a legal effort by Eastman to block investigators from “rummaging” through his files. The Justice Department had indicated that it would obtain a warrant that would limit investigators’ access to “evidence of specific federal crimes or specific types of material.”


Judge rejects Eastman’s request to protect phone from investigators

“From the viewpoint of virtue politics a citizen is not someone who holds a status based on residency and ancestry but is rather a person of high character and enterprise who has shown devotion to the city and has sacrificed time and resources for its welfare.”

— James Hankins, author of Virtue Politics