March 23, 2023

The California state bar moved to revoke attorney John Eastman’s law license on Thursday, saying that he lied over and over again to support President Trump’s effort to stay in office after losing the 2020 election.

The chief trial counsel of the California bar slapped Eastman with eleven counts of violating attorney ethics rules during the effort. They include eight counts of moral turpitude, two counts of trying to mislead a court, and one count of failing to support the laws and Constitution of the United States.

Eastman, the bar said, either knew or was negligent in not knowing “that there was no evidence upon which a reasonable attorney would rely of election fraud or illegality that could have affected the outcome of the election, and that there was no evidence upon which a reasonable attorney would rely that the election had been ‘stolen’ by the Democratic Party or other parties acting in a coordinated conspiracy to fraudulently ‘steal’ the election from Trump.”

In spite of that, the bar found, Eastman “continued to work with Trump and others to promote the idea that the outcome of the election was in question and had been stolen from Trump as the result of fraud, disregard of state election law, and misconduct by election officials.”

Via an attorney, Eastman issued a statement saying that he “disputes ‘every aspect’” of the filing, and characterized his own involvement with Trump as part of the “fluid and fast-moving aftermath of the 2020 election” while doubling down on long-debunked allegations of “illegality” in the vote.

Bar officials said that Eastman violated his duty as an attorney by providing legal advice based on allegations of voter fraud that he knew were false, and that he propagated a legal theory regarding Vice President Mike Pence’s supposed power to reject electoral votes that he also knew to be baseless.

“For California attorneys, adherence to the U.S. and California Constitutions is their highest legal duty,” California Chief Trial Counsel George Cardona said in a statement. “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.”  

The 35-page notice of disciplinary charges reads like a greatest hits of Eastman’s involvement in Trump’s attempt to stay in power. It cites as evidence of his misdeeds the speech he gave on the Ellipse on the morning of Jan. 6, the memos he penned arguing that Pence could reject electors, and alleged lies he included in legal filings before federal district judges and the Supreme Court.

In the Supreme Court matter, Eastman allegedly included information that he knew to be false as part of an attempt to support a coalition of Republican attorneys general, led by Texas, in convincing the court to flip the result to Trump.

“By expressly adopting these false and misleading statements and presenting them to the Supreme Court as a basis of relief for Trump, respondent sought to mislead the Supreme Court by an artifice or false statement of fact or law,” the filing reads.

The notice avoids drawing a conclusion about whether Eastman was lying, or if he was “grossly negligent” in failing to research whether what he was saying was true.

Rather, it focuses on the ridiculousness of what Eastman was pushing.

Nowhere does he receive more opprobrium than for his advice that Pence could unilaterally reject electors — or even refuse to count them — as part of a scheme that would have seen the fake electors that the Trump campaign created swoop in and steal the election.

“No reasonable attorney with expertise in constitutional or election law would conclude that Pence was legally authorized to take the actions that respondent proposed,” the filing reads.

Per the state’s press release, Eastman will have the opportunity to defend himself before a state bar court judge. In his case, because the matter deals with disbarment, the state bar court’s recommendation will go to the California Supreme Court, which will make the ultimate decision on whether to yank Eastman’s law license.

The statement sent out by Eastman’s attorneys suggests that he will mount a campaign to keep his law license which conflates the accusations against him with an attempt to “cancel” him for speaking out against the Biden administration. He characterized the notice, for example, as “part of a nationwide effort to use the bar discipline process to penalize attorneys who opposed the current administration in the last Presidential election.”

Eastman will appear at a press conference on Friday in California addressing the accusations at 8 a.m. PST/11 a.m. EST. In the statement, he said that former Attorney General Ed Meese, Bush-era DOJ official John Yoo, and 2020 election attorney Kurt Olsen would join him, among other conservative notables.

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