IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Lawyers seek investigation into author of pro-Trump Eastman memo

John Eastman effectively outlined how pro-Trump Republicans could execute something resembling a coup. A group of lawyers wants a bar association probe.


Since John Eastman's notorious anti-election memo came to the fore, the Republican lawyer has received considerable attention, but he's showing no signs of contrition. In fact, Eastman told The New York Times a few days ago that he's following through on his earlier antics.

"There are lots of allegations out there that didn't get their day in court and lots of people that believe them and wish they got their day in court," the GOP attorney said, "and I am working very diligently with several teams — statistical teams, election specialists teams, all sorts of teams — to try and identify the various claims and determine whether they have merit or there is reasonable explanation for them."

But while Eastman and his many "teams" chase down assorted conspiracy theories, some of the lawyer's critics are seeking a bar investigation into his controversial efforts. The Los Angeles Times reported yesterday:

A group of prominent lawyers, including former governors and judges, urged the California bar on Monday to launch an investigation into John C. Eastman's role in advising President Trump on how he could overturn his election defeat, including by having his vice president refuse to count the electoral votes in seven states won by President Biden.

"We write to request that the State Bar investigate serious evidence of professional misconduct by Professor John C. Eastman in connection with his representation of former President Donald J. Trump in efforts to discredit and overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election," the group wrote.

The signatories added, "The available evidence supports a strong case that ... Mr. Eastman violated his ethical obligations as an attorney by filing frivolous claims, making false statements, and engaging in deceptive conduct.... On January 6, 2021, Mr. Eastman continued this pattern of misconduct by giving the crowd at the 'Stop the Steal' rally on the National Mall another version of his misleading advice and stating that, by rejecting it, Mr. Pence had proved himself undeserving of his office."

For those who may need a refresher, it was last summer when Eastman published a bizarre piece that argued that Vice President Kamala Harris was ineligible for national office because her parents are immigrants. Soon after, he began working with Donald Trump — the then-president saw him on Fox News and was impressed — and as part of that work, Eastman filed the brief last December on Trump's behalf that asked the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the 2020 presidential election. (It was filled with factual errors — including an obvious one literally on the first page.)

Soon after, he authored what's become known as the Eastman Memo, which fleshed out a ridiculous six-step scenario in which then-Vice President Mike Pence, rather than honor the results of the election, would exploit ambiguities in the Electoral Count Act and set aside the Electoral College votes of seven states. That would put Trump in the lead, but it would also leave both candidates short of a majority.

From there, under Eastman's reported plan, the election would shift to the U.S. House, where Republicans controlled enough state delegations to keep Trump in power, despite his defeat.

This was, in other words, an apparent document — written by a lawyer representing the then-president — that effectively outlined how Republicans could execute something resembling a coup. Eastman even pushed his vision on Jan. 6, speaking at the pro-Trump rally ahead of the insurrectionist riot.

Given all of this, perhaps it shouldn't come as too big of a surprise that a group of lawyers is seeking a California Bar Association probe.

What's more, Eastman isn't the only pro-Trump lawyer facing new calls for scrutiny.

As regular readers know, we learned over the summer that Trump privately urged the Justice Department's top two officials at the time to lie about the election after his defeat. "Just say that the election was corrupt [and] leave the rest to me" and to Republican members of Congress, the then-president told Jeffrey Rosen, the acting attorney general, and his deputy, Richard Donoghue.

A day later, Jeffrey Clark — at the time, the acting head of the Justice Department's civil division — sketched out a map for Republican legislators to follow in which they could try to overturn the will of the state's voters.

Yesterday, The Hill reported that a group of legal heavyweights has asked the disciplinary panel of the D.C. Court of Appeals to open an investigation into Clark's efforts.

"Mr. Clark made false statements about the integrity of the election in a concerted effort to disseminate an official statement of the United States Department of Justice that the election results in multiple states were unreliable," the complaint read. "While his conduct mirrored that of other lawyers who have been sanctioned for false statements, they operated on a considerably more dangerous scale with commensurately greater risk to our democracy."

Watch this space.