Jan 26, 2023
Trump Lawyer John Eastman Faces Disbarment Action in California
(Bloomberg) -- John Eastman, the conservative lawyer who helped lead former President Donald Trump’s legal efforts to undermine the results of the 2020 presidential election, is facing disciplinary action in California, where state bar regulators say they will seek to strip his license.
The State Bar of California’s Chief Trial Counsel George Cardona announced the case on Thursday. The complaint features 11 counts alleging ethics violations stemming from Eastman’s work and public statements in the weeks after the 2020 election.
“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,” Cardona said in a statement.
Cardona’s office had announced the investigation into Eastman in March 2022. A lawyer for Eastman did not immediately return a request for comment.
Eastman is the latest attorney connected to Trump’s post-election activities to face disciplinary action, putting their future ability to practice law in jeopardy. Rudy Giuliani, the former New York City mayor and Manhattan US attorney, is in the midst of proceedings before bar regulators in New York and Washington; his licenses in both jurisdictions have been suspended in the meantime. Jeffrey Clark, a former top Justice Department official under Trump, is also fighting a discipline case in Washington.
The California State Bar complaint, known as a “notice of disciplinary charges,” alleges that Eastman broadly violated his professional duties as an attorney in two ways: Promoting claims of election fraud that he knew were false or was “grossly negligent” in not knowing, and giving legal advice about the Vice President’s power to interfere with the counting of electoral votes that he knew or should have known wasn’t supported by history or legal precedent.
“[N]o reasonable attorney with expertise in constitutional or election law would have concluded that the Vice President was legally authorized to take the actions respondent proposed,” the complaint states.
Eastman’s lawyer Randall Miller released a statement saying that Eastman disputed all of the allegations against him in the complaint and accusing California bar regulators of politicizing the attorney discipline process.
“The Bar’s action has less to do with an attorney’s inviolate and sacred obligation of zealous advocacy owed by every attorney to every client — whether a candidate for office or a plumber — and more to do with the chilling of those duties,” Miller wrote.
Eastman wrote two memos laying out the legal case for then Vice President Mike Pence to delay the counting of electoral votes when Congress met in a joint session to certify the results on Jan. 6, 2021, citing the existence of alternate slates of state electors. Pence ultimately refused to do so, and constitutional experts panned the legal underpinnings of Eastman’s proposal.
On the morning of Jan. 6, before a mob of thousands of Trump supporters descended on the Capitol and breached the building, Eastman spoke at a rally at the Ellipse near the White House, repeating false claims of widespread election fraud.
The now-dissolved House committee that investigated the events leading up to the Jan. 6 attack on the US Capitol referred Eastman, along with Trump, for possible criminal charges to the Justice Department in late 2022. He has not been charged with any crimes to date.
The case is In the Matter of John Charles Eastman, State Bar Court of California, SBC-23-O-30029.
(Updated with statement from Eastman’s attorney.)
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