An move to disbar conservative attorney John Eastman, who designed strategies to maintain President Donald Trump in office after his defeat in the 2020 election, will begin in Los Angeles on Tuesday.
Eastman is scheduled to spend the day testifying before the State Bar of California in a procedure that might result in him losing his California legal license. He faces 11 disciplinary allegations coming from the adoption of a dubious legal approach aimed at assisting Trump’s retention of power by interfering with the counting of state electoral votes.
Eastman’s disbarment will be sought by the State Bar’s counsel during a hearing before the State Bar Court, which is likely to last at least eight days. If the court finds Eastman guilty of the claimed offenses, it can impose a penalty such as suspending or revoking his legal license. The final decision is made by the California Supreme Court.
Eastman will testify in his own defense on Tuesday. Witnesses will include Greg Jacob, a former attorney for then-Vice President Mike Pence who fought Eastman’s proposal to have Pence stop the certification of Joe Biden’s victory.
During the election, Eastman was one of Trump’s lawyers. In a document, he suggested that Pence could maintain Trump in power by rejecting the election results at a joint session of Congress called to tally electoral votes. Critics have compared this to orders for a coup.
The State Bar alleges that Eastman violated California’s business and professions code by making false and misleading statements that constituted acts of “moral turpitude, dishonesty, and corruption,” and that he “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.”
Eastman’s attorney previously said his client disputes “every aspect” of the allegations.
The action by the State Bar is “part of a nationwide effort to use the bar discipline process to penalize attorneys who voted against the current administration in the last presidential election.” “This politicization of our nation’s state courts should trouble Americans of both political parties,” Eastman’s attorney, Randall A. Miller, said in a statement after the accusations were announced in January.
According to the California Bar’s website, Eastman has been a member since 1997. He was a legal clerk for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and the founding director of the Claremont Institute’s Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence. In 2010, he ran for Attorney General of California, finishing second in the Republican primary.
Eastman stepped down as dean of Chapman University’s law school in Southern California last year after more than 160 faculty members signed a statement urging the university to fire him.
The California State Bar is a regulatory body and the country’s only judicial system dedicated to attorney discipline.
Eastman’s disciplinary hearing comes as special counsel Jack Smith continues his probe into Trump and his Republican allies’ efforts to change the 2020 election results.
For months, a federal grand jury in Washington has been meeting behind closed doors to hear testimony from witnesses, including Pence, who has publicly outlined Trump’s pressure campaign aimed at getting him to block Congress’ certification of the election results and Biden’s win.
According to a court document, federal investigators took Eastman’s smartphone last summer as he was leaving a restaurant. As part of their investigation, law enforcement officials performed similar operations around the country on that day.
Smith has thrown a wide net in demanding interviews and testimony relating to funding, Trump’s rally preceding the U.S. Capitol disturbance on Jan. 6, 2021, and correspondence between Trump allies and election officials in battleground states since his appointment in November. Eastman gave a speech at the event.
Smith subpoenaed local election officials in Wisconsin, Michigan, Arizona, and Pennsylvania in December, requesting communications with or involving Trump, his 2020 campaign aides, and a list of allies — including Eastman — who were involved in his efforts to overturn the election results.
The investigation is distinct from Smith’s previous investigation into classified materials discovered at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home in Palm Beach, Florida, which resulted in felony charges against Trump earlier this month. Last Monday, Trump pled not guilty to 37 criminal counts, including conspiracy to obstruct justice.