Ex-Trump lawyer Eastman should be disbarred, California judge rules

By David Thomas

(Reuters) -A California state judge on Wednesday said attorney John Eastman should be stripped of his law license for his efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 U.S. presidential election on behalf of Donald Trump.

Eastman, a former personal lawyer to Trump who is now his co-defendant in the Georgia criminal case over efforts to sway the election, was accused of violating California attorney ethics rules against misleading courts and making false public statements.

“Eastman’s actions were carried out with deceit or dishonesty,” Judge Yvette Roland of California’s State Bar Court wrote in her 128-page ruling. She held that his plan to derail Democrat Joe Biden’s election victory “was unlawful and lacked any factual or legal support.”

Roland presided over a disciplinary trial against Eastman last year. The California Supreme Court has the final say on all disciplinary matters.

Lawyers for Eastman and a spokesperson for the California State Bar did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Wednesday. Eastman has defended his legal arguments and statements about the election, saying they were made in good faith.

Eastman “broke his oath to uphold the Constitution, and he betrayed the legal profession,” States United Democracy Center, a nonpartisan policy group that filed a disciplinary complaint against Eastman in 2021, said in a statement.

Eastman was separately indicted in August 2023 in Fulton County, Georgia, and charged along with Trump and others over efforts to overturn Biden’s 2020 election win in the state. Eastman and Trump pleaded not guilty.

A former law professor at Chapman University in California, Eastman drafted legal memos suggesting then-Vice President Mike Pence could refuse to accept electoral votes from several swing states when Congress convened to certify the 2020 vote count. Pence rebuffed his arguments, saying he did not have legal authority to do so under the Constitution.

Trump was also represented by Eastman in a long-shot lawsuit at the U.S. Supreme Court that sought to invalidate votes in four states where the Republican former president had falsely claimed evidence of widespread voter fraud.

Eastman repeated many of those claims at a rally outside the White House on Jan. 6, 2021, after which a mob of Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol and delayed congressional certification of the election.

Several other lawyers in Trump’s orbit have also faced criminal or ethics actions or both over their 2020 election efforts.

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani had his New York law license suspended in June 2021 and is facing potential disbarment in Washington, D.C. Former U.S. Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark is facing a disciplinary hearing this week in Washington, D.C.

Both men were charged alongside Trump and Eastman in Georgia and have pleaded not guilty.

(Reporting by David ThomasEditing by David Bario, Bill Berkrot and Leslie Adler)

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