Law prof Eastman's false statements about election helped provoke Capitol rioters, ethics charges say

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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. AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin.

Former Chapman University law professor John Eastman should be disbarred in connection with his efforts to overturn the 2020 election and his false statements that helped provoke Capitol rioters, according to California ethics regulators.

Eastman is facing 11 counts of alleged misconduct in a notice of disciplinary charges filed Thursday. The State Bar of California’s Office of Chief Trial Counsel intends to seek Eastman’s disbarment, according to a press release.

Eastman spoke at a stop the steal rally shortly before the Capitol riot. He asserted that voting machines had secret folders that manipulated the results, that dead people had voted, and Vice President Mike Pence didn’t deserve to be in office if he didn’t delay the electoral-vote count, according to the Jan. 26 notice of disciplinary charges.

Eastman was also the author of two legal memos providing scenarios that could be used to change the election results.

Eastman knew or should have known there was no evidence of election fraud sufficient to have affected the outcome of the 2020 presidential election, according to the ethics charges.

Yet Eastman worked with former President Donald Trump and others to promote the idea that the election had been stolen. And his legal advice that Pence had unilateral authority to disregard or delay the counting of the electoral votes was “unsupported by the historical record and established legal authority and precedent,” the ethics charges said.

The notice alleges Eastman violated his duty to uphold the Constitution and the laws of the United States; sought to mislead courts in election litigation; and committed acts involving moral turpitude or dishonesty. The moral turpitude counts are based on Eastman’s alleged false statements in his legal memos, court documents, media interviews, his speech on Jan. 6, 2021, and an email intended to pressure Pence.

Eastman’s lawyer, Randall A. Miller, said in a press release that Eastman disputes “every aspect” of the disciplinary complaint, according to coverage of the bar charges by and Law360.

Miller said serious allegations of vote fraud had been raised by numerous legislators and Eastman was representing Trump in the “fluid and fast-moving aftermath of the 2020 election.” Eastman’s legal advice was “the product of comprehensive research of the law and historical records,” and it was supported by “reasonable interpretation of legal and historical precedent, scholarly analysis and legislative history,” said Miller, an attorney with Miller Law Associates.

Miller said the bar complaint “is part of a nationwide effort to use the bar discipline process to penalize attorneys who opposed the current administration in the last presidential election.”

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