Law Professors

Trump and law prof likely 'dishonestly conspired' to block election vote count, judge says

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Eastman and Giuliani Jan. 6 rally

John Eastman (left) joins lawyer Rudy Giuliani at a Washington, D.C., rally on Jan. 6, 2021, in support of then-President Donald Trump. They spoke before the attack on the U.S. Capitol. Photo by Jacquelyn Martin/The Associated Press.

A federal judge in California said Monday it is “more likely than not” that a former Chapman University law professor and former President Donald Trump “dishonestly conspired” to obstruct Congress in its certification of the 2020 presidential election results.

U.S. District Judge David Carter of the Central District of California made the assertion as he mostly ruled against John Eastman’s bid to shield 111 disputed documents received or sent by him on his Chapman University email account around the time of the election. Carter allowed disclosure of 101 documents to the congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, U.S. Capitol attack.

The New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times and Politico have coverage of Carter’s March 28 ruling.

Eastman had told then-Vice President Mike Pence in a legal memo that he could refuse to certify the election results as the “ultimate arbiter” of the vote count. In later meetings, Eastman argued that Pence could either reject electors or delay the vote count, Carter said.

Eastman also participated in a briefing urging several hundred state legislators to “decertify” state electors to help give Trump the election win, the congressional committee alleged. And Eastman participated in the Stop the Steal rally before the Jan. 6 riot.

Eastman was a professor at Chapman University’s Dale E. Fowler School of Law at the time of his activities, but he has since retired.

Carter considered illegality in evaluating whether otherwise privileged documents could be released under the crime fraud exception.

Carter said the illegality of Eastman’s plan to overturn the election results was “obvious.”

Eastman “likely acted deceitfully and dishonestly” when he pushed his plan to block the election results, Carter said.

“Eastman argues that the plan was legally justified as it ‘was grounded on a good faith interpretation of the Constitution. … But ‘ignorance of the law is no excuse,’” Carter said.

See also: “Former Chapman law prof who wrote ‘coup memo’ faces ethics probe, state bar confirms” “Former Chapman law prof says ex-dean knew of his work for Trump; 2 students were ‘thrilled’ to help” “Chapman University says it didn’t authorize law prof’s representation of Trump, yet work was on server” “Prove it up: Scholars criticize law prof’s speech about secret folders and say it was unsupported”

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