Donald Trump will do anything for power. He lies on his taxes. He sexually assaults women who don’t submit willingly. He colluded with Russia to illegally steal the 2016 presidential election. And after being humiliated in the 2020 election, losing to President Joe Biden by over 7 million votes, Trump tried to orchestrate the unlawful overturning of the results.
This latest foray into the world of crime involved what U.S. District Court Judge David O. Carter described as “a coup in search of a legal theory.” That legal theory, although misguided and corrupt, was provided to Team Trump by right wing, conspiracy theorist attorney John Eastman.
Eastman and Trump’s plot was to have Vice President Mike Pence declare the electoral college results from several states that Trump lost as “in dispute” and refuse to count them during the largely ceremonial certification of votes. Without the votes of states that went to Biden, Eastman argued that Trump could then be declared the winner.
An alternate plan was to have Pence delay the certification past January 6. The Constitution specifically says that Congress must certify the election results within a set time frame. If Pence was to cause the delay of the certification past January 6, Eastman and Trump argued state lawmakers could select new slates of electors. Republicans would ensure that the new electors were Trump loyalists, and the election would swing to him.
Both of these plans were illegal, and evidence suggests Eastman knew it. The plans required Pence to, at the very least, violate procedural law. Justice Carter found that Trump and Eastman had likely committed several felonies.
“Judge Carter looked at the evidence that’s available and concluded this was an attempted coup in search of a legal investigation,” analyzed Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of UC Berkeley Law School in an LA Times report. “No judge comes to such a conclusion lightly. But everything that we know about what happened supports what Judge Carter said.”
In the two-page outline of his plan to illegally overturn the results of the 2020 election, Eastman claimed his theories came from Harvard Law Professor Laurence Tribe. However, evidence does not support this and Tribe has publicly stated that Eastman “takes snippets of my work wholly out of context and spins a totally fake web of ‘law’ that no halfway decent lawyer would take seriously.”
On January 2, 2021, Trump and Eastman laid out their plan in a phone conference with 300 Republican lawmakers. That means hundreds of GOP officials were in on the plot to overturn the results of a free and fair election and instead install Trump as a would-be dictator.
Eastman was also in Trump’s “war room” at the Willard Intercontinental Hotel in the days leading up to the January 6 insurrection. This is where Trump’s inner circle of allies and lawyers met to plot the overthrow of the government. This select group is said to have included Michael Flynn, Roger Stone, Steve Bannon, Rudy Giuliani, Joe Oltmann, Seth Abramson, Bernard Kerik, Boris Epshteyn, Russel J. Ramsland Jr., Christina Bobb, and Philip Luelsdorff.
In addition, Eastman spoke at the so-called “Stop the Steal” demonstration in which Trump urged his followers to descend on the Capitol and stop the certification of votes. At the demonstration, Eastman pushed unfounded accusations of voter fraud in the 2020 election. He has since claimed that the insurrection was actually a false flag operation by members of ANTIFA. There is no group called ANTIFA, it is a boogieman Republicans use to gaslight their followers.
On the day of the insurrection, while Trump’s army was attacking the Capitol and the Vice President and members of Congress were rushed into seclusion under armed guard, Eastman continued to email Pence’s attorney Greg Jacob. Like a lunatic, Eastman raged that Pence could and should still refuse to certify the votes. He admitted in these emails that he knew what he was instructing Pence to do would be breaking the law.
Prior to the 2020 election, Eastman authored a paper saying Vice President Kamala Harris isn’t qualified to be President because her parents were immigrants. Harris, a minority, was born in the U.S. Her parents were legal immigrants who had come from South Asia and Jamacia respectively. Eastman’s theory was pure racism.
Interestingly, Eastman was a law clerk for embattled Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Thomas has been in the news for failing to recuse himself on cases that have since revealed to have involved his wife. Ginni Thomas herself was involved in the attempts to overturn the results of the 2020 election. Justice Thomas also failed to disclose hundreds of thousands of dollars paid to his wife by people involved in cases he ruled on.
The weekend after Trump lost the 2020 election, Eastman accepted an invitation to help prepare a legal brief to challenge the election results in Pennsylvania. Eastman filed two briefs on behalf of Trump asking the Supreme Court to step in an overturn the results of the election. Such efforts lacked any legal standing and were dismissed.
Eastman is now under investigation by the bipartisan House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol. When he appeared before the committee in December, he invoked the 5th Amendment 146 times and refused to hand over evidentiary documents.
When the committee subpoenaed some of the documents from his employer, Chapman University, he sued. Justice Carter, however, ruled that attorney-client privilege does not apply because Eastman and Trump were participating in crimes in an attempt to overthrow the government.
Further, Chapman University is not prohibited from releasing emails sent by or received by Eastman relating to his crimes. Eastman had been informed by the school that any emails sent on their servers were university property. They had even taken the specific step to instruct Eastman not to use Chapman University email for anything related to his work for Donald Trump. Eastman chose to ignore this. Not necessarily the sign of a good legal mind.
Since evidence of Eastman and Trump’s crimes have started coming to light, Eastman was forced to resign from his teaching position with Chapman University’s Fowler School of Law. He is also under investigation by the State Bar of California, facing possible disbarment. The House Select Committee could also refer him to the Department of Justice for prosecution for his crimes.
Peace. Love. Trust.
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