John Eastman, the University of Colorado Boulders visiting scholar of conservative thought and policy, speaks about his plans to sue the university at a news conference outside of CU Boulder on Thursday, April 29, 2021.
Andy Cross | Denver Post | Getty Images
The California State Bar on Thursday charged John Eastman, an attorney closely allied with former President Donald Trump, with 11 disciplinary counts related to his alleged scheme to overturn President Joe Biden‘s win in the 2020 election.
The Office of Chief Trial Counsel George Cardona intends to seek Eastman’s disbarment, according to a press release from the State Bar of California.
Eastman is charged with making false statements about purported election fraud, including during a “stop the steal” rally outside the White House on Jan. 6, 2021. Eastman’s remarks “contributed” to provoking a crowd of Trump’s fans to storm the U.S. Capitol in order to block Congress from confirming Biden’s electoral victory, the state bar alleges.
Eastman was the legal architect of one of several efforts to overturn Trump’s loss to Biden. Eastman drafted documents advancing a dubious legal theory that then-Vice President Mike Pence had the power to unilaterally refuse to certify Electoral College votes for Biden from key swing states.
Pence, who presided over Congress’ efforts to confirm Biden’s victory on Jan. 6, 2021, refused to go along with that plan, despite pressure from Trump.
Eastman did not immediately respond to CNBC’s requests for comment.
The notice of charges against Eastman says that his proposed strategies “were unsupported by law, based on false and misleading assertions of fact, and designed for the purpose of keeping Trump in office.”
Eastman allegedly “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,” Cardona said in the press release.
The lawyer “must be held accountable,” Cardona said.
Eastman, who has been admitted to practice law in California since 1997, “violated his obligations as an attorney” by promoting allegations of electoral fraud that he knew, or ought to have known, were false, the 35-page charging document alleges.
He is also accused of furthering a legal view of Pence’s powers “that no reasonable attorney with expertise in constitutional or election law would have concluded that the Vice President was legally authorized to take.”
Eastman featured prominently in public presentations of evidence gathered by the House select committee investigating the Capitol riot. The committee voted to refer Trump to the Department of Justice for criminal investigation before it wrapped up its probe late last year.