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Trump lawyer Eastman faces possible disbarment, among other troubles

The bad news for John Eastman is that he might lose his law license. The worse news is that this isn't the Republican lawyer's only problem.


If John Eastman thought his troubles were largely behind him, he learned otherwise yesterday. CNBC reported:

The California State Bar on Thursday charged John Eastman, an attorney closely allied with former President Donald Trump, with 11 disciplinary counts related to his alleged scheme to overturn President Joe Biden’s win in the 2020 election. The Office of Chief Trial Counsel George Cardona intends to seek Eastman’s disbarment, according to a press release from the State Bar of California.

According to the state bar allegations, the Republican lawyer, among other things, pushed false statements about election fraud and “contributed” to provoking radicalized Trump supporters ahead of their Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

While Eastman and his legal team deny the allegations — his attorney said Eastman disputes “every aspect” of the state bar’s case — if the disciplinary counts against him succeed, the controversial lawyer faces possible disbarment.

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 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: In late 2020, 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 investigation helped prove, Eastman helped concoct an illegal scheme 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, pleading with officials to go along with the 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.”

Indeed, while yesterday's developments about possible disbarment made headlines, his troubles aren’t limited to California. It was last summer when a Fulton County grand jury investigating attempts to influence the 2020 election in Georgia heard from Eastman directly, and saw him invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

It was not the first time: Eastman also took the Fifth with the Jan. 6 committee — roughly 100 times.

What’s more, disbarment isn’t the only threat hanging over the Republican’s head. He’s facing legal scrutiny in Georgia; FBI agents executed a search warrant last year and seized his phone; and the Jan. 6 committee referred Eastman to the Justice Department for possible criminal prosecution.

Yesterday was no doubt discouraging for the controversial attorney, but it was just one development in a constellation of troubles.