Alleged Trump Collaborator John Eastman ‘Threatened’ U.S. Democracy, Should Be Disbarred, California State Bar Recommends 

By Crescenzo Vellucci

The Vanguard Sacramento Bureau Chief

LOS ANGELES, CA – John Charles Eastman, infamously linked to the attempt to obstruct the counting of electoral votes in 2021 on behalf of former U.S. President Donald Trump, is being recommended for disbarment after he “threatened the fundamental principles of our democracy,” according to a statement released Wednesday by the California State Bar.

State Bar Hearing Judge Yvette D. Roland, in a 128-page document, found Eastman “culpable of 10 of the disciplinary charges filed by the State Bar’s Office of Chief Trial Counsel (OCTC)” and recommended that he be disbarred. 

Judge Roland wrote “the court rejects Eastman’s contention that this disciplinary proceeding and Eastman’s resultant discipline is motivated by his political views or his representation of President Trump or President Trump’s Campaign. Rather, Eastman’s wrongdoing constitutes exceptionally serious ethical violations warranting severe professional discipline.”

Roland added, “As counsel for President Trump during a disputed presidential election, Eastman made multiple patently false and misleading statements in court filings, in public remarks heard by countless Americans and to others regarding the conduct of the 2020 presidential election and Vice President Pence’s authority to refuse to count or delay counting properly certified slates of electoral votes on January 6, 2021. 

“These statements, made with varying degrees of intent, were improperly aimed at casting doubt on the legitimate election results and support for the baseless claim that the presidency was stolen from his client—all while relying on his credentials as an attorney and constitutional scholar to lend credibility to his unfounded claims.”

Roland found, “Even after courts in key states authoritatively rejected unsupported allegations of outcome-determinative fraud in the election, Eastman persisted in proposing a legally unsustainable strategy. From November 2020 forward, as his many legal challenges failed, Eastman substantively advanced the false narrative that widespread fraud had tainted the election, and that Vice President Pence possessed the power to contravene the constitutional electoral process. 

“His demonstrated intent was to foment loss of public confidence in the integrity of the 2020 election and persuade Vice President Pence to refuse to count or delay the counting of electoral votes on January 6. Most of his misconduct occurred squarely within the course and scope of Eastman’s representation of President Trump and culminated with a shared plan to obstruct the lawful function of the government.”

Roland argued, “While attorneys have a duty to advocate zealously for their clients, they must do so within the bounds of ethical and legal constraints. Eastman’s actions transgressed those ethical limits by advocating, participating in and pursuing a strategy to challenge the results of the 2020 presidential election that lacked evidentiary or legal support. 

“Vigorous advocacy does not absolve Eastman of his professional responsibilities around honesty and upholding the rule of law. While his actions are mitigated by his many years of discipline-free practice, cooperation, and prior good character, his wrongdoing is substantially aggravated by his multiple offenses, lack of candor and indifference. 

“Given the serious and extensive nature of Eastman’s unethical actions, the most severe available professional sanction is warranted to protect the public and preserve the public confidence in the legal system.”

Eastman, who the SBA said must file a challenge to avoid the recommendation from going to the California  Supreme Court for review, cannot practice law in the state, starting in three days, while the SCOC considers the recommendation.

The Bar’s statement late Wednesday noted, “Eastman’s wrongdoing constitutes exceptionally serious ethical violations warranting severe professional discipline.”

“Every California attorney has the duty to uphold the constitution and the rule of law,” said Chief Trial Counsel George Cardona. “Mr. Eastman repeatedly violated that duty. Worse, he did so in a way that threatened the fundamental principles of our democracy.”

Cardona added, “The substantial evidence presented over 35 days of trial showed…Mr. Eastman abandoned his ethical and legal duties as an attorney to conspire with then-President Donald Trump to develop and implement a strategy to obstruct the counting of electoral votes on January 6, 2021, and illegally disrupt the peaceful transfer of power to President-elect Joseph Biden, knowing that there was no good faith theory or argument to lawfully reject the electoral votes of any state or delay the January 6 electoral count.” 

“Mr. Eastman’s efforts failed only because our democratic institutions and those committed to upholding them held strong. The harm caused by Mr. Eastman’s abandonment of his duties as a lawyer, and the threat his actions posed to our democracy, more than warrant his disbarment,” Cardona said.

The SBA said Cardona “invoked a public protection waiver to announce an investigation of Eastman was underway. In January 2023, OCTC filed 11 disciplinary charges against Eastman, alleging that he engaged in misconduct to plan, promote, and assist then-President Trump in executing a strategy, unsupported by facts or law, to overturn the legitimate results of the 2020 presidential election.”

The SBA statement explained Eastman’s hearing started in June of 2023, and “included more than 35 trial days extending into November, and involved 23 witnesses and more than 700 exhibits.”

The Bar noted “If a disciplinary ruling involves disbarment or suspension, the State Bar Court’s recommendation is transmitted to the California Supreme Court, which determines whether to impose the recommended discipline.”

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