Former Trump Lawyer John Eastman Should Be Disbarred, California Judge Rules

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A judge in California today ruled that John Eastman, former President Donald Trump’s attorney in 2020 and the chief architect of the insurrection on the Capitol, should be disbarred for his involvement in Trump’s coordinated attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. 

In the 128-page ruling from the State Bar Court of California, Eastman was charged with one count of “failing to support the Constitution and laws of the United States,” two counts of “seeking to mislead a court,” six counts of “moral turpitude by making various misrepresentations” and finally, two counts of “moral turpitude.”

Eastman faced 11 charges from the California State Bar over his myriad legal efforts to help Trump overturn the election results. Those charges stemmed from two memos he sent — one on Dec. 23, 2020 and another on Jan. 4, 2021 — presented ways in which Trump could stay in the White House. The second one Eastman sent, a notorious six-page memo, outlined how Trump could stay in the White House by persuading Vice President Mike Pence to throw out the electoral votes for Joe Biden in seven key states and instead cast them for Trump. 

Eastman’s memo hinged, in part, on the fringe right-wing legal theory called the independent legislature theory (ISL) that interprets the word “legislature” to mean that only the legislature can set the rules for federal elections, including how presidential electors are chosen. 

Eastman sent the memo on Jan. 4, 2021 — just two days before the deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol by Trump supporters who were trying to thwart the certification of the election. Eastman spoke at the Jan. 6 rally near the White House that preceded the attack where he asserted, without evidence, that voter fraud helped Biden win the election. 

“They were unloading the ballots from that secret folder, matching them, matching them to the unvoted voter, and voilà, we have enough votes to barely get over the finish line,” Eastman said at the rally. “We saw it happen in real time last night and it happened on Nov. 3rd as well.” 

During the attack, Greg Jacob, Pence’s chief counsel, sent an email to Eastman that said, “Thanks to your bullshit, we are now under siege.” In the subsequent congressional investigation into Jan. 6, Jacob testified that he told Trump his plan would violate the Electoral Count Act and wrote in an email to fellow Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani that he should be on a “pardon list.”

The Dec. 23 two-page memo outlined a plan to keep Trump in office alleging false evidence of election fraud. Eastman allegedly devised this plan even after multiple lawsuits in numerous states found no credible evidence of fraud that would affect the outcome of the election. The California State Bar’s decision to disbar Eastman stems from the plan formulated in the Dec. 23 memo.

In the time since the California State Bar charged Eastman, he’s remained active in legal matters elsewhere. In August of 2023, Eastman represented the Colorado Republican Party in a lawsuit attempting to bar unaffiliated voters from participating in the state’s 2024 Republican primary — a lawsuit that could have disenfranchised nearly two million voters

The California court recommended that Eastman not only be disbarred but have to pay “monetary sanctions” for his actions. The judge ruled that he should pay $10,000 for “making numerous false and misleading statements regarding the conduct of the 2020 presidential election and Vice President Pence’s authority to refuse to count or delay counting properly certified slates of electoral votes and for his collaborative efforts with President Trump to impede the counting of electoral votes.”

Eastman’s disbarment takes effect three days from the date of the order, according to the judge’s ruling. 

Read the California Bar’s 11 charges against Eastman here. 

Learn more about Eastman’s role in Trump’s election subversion here.

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