Trump adviser faces possible disbarment over his efforts to overturn 2020 election

FILE - Chapman School of Law professor John Eastman testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, March 16, 2017. An effort to disbar Eastman, who devised ways to keep former President Donald Trump in the White House after his defeat the 2020 election, will begin Tuesday, June 20, 2023, in Los Angeles. Eastman is expected to spend the day testifying before the State Bar of California in a proceeding that could result in him losing his license to practice law in the state. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

LOS ANGELES — Attorney John Eastman, the architect of a legal strategy aimed at keeping former President Donald Trump in power, concocted a baseless theory and made false claims of fraud in an attempt to overturn the 2020 election, a prosecutor said Tuesday in arguing that Eastman be disbarred.

Eastman’s attorney countered that his client never intended to steal the election, but was considering ways to delay electoral-vote counting so states could investigate allegations of voting improprieties. Trump’s claims of fraud were roundly rejected by courts, including by judges the Republican appointed.

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Eastman faces 11 disciplinary charges in the State Bar Court of California stemming from his development of a dubious legal strategy aimed at having Vice President Mike Pence interfere with the certification of President Joe Biden’s victory.

If the court finds Eastman culpable of the alleged violations it can recommend a punishment such as suspending or revoking his law license. The California Supreme Court makes the final decision.

Duncan Carling of the office of chief trial counsel — which is seeking Eastman’s disbarment — said Eastman’s legal theory was “unsupported by historical precedent and law and contrary to our values as a nation.”

Eastman continued his efforts to undermine the election even after state and federal officials publicly rejected Trump allies’ claims of fraud, Carling said.

“All of his misconduct was done with one singular purpose: To obstruct the electoral count on Jan. 6 and stop Vice President Pence from certifying Joe Biden as the winner of the election,” Carling said. “He was fully aware in real time that his plan was damaging the nation,” he added.

Eastman’s attorney, Randall A. Miller, told the judge that Eastman “was not there to steal the election or invent ways to make President Trump the winner.” Miller argued Eastman was merely engaging in what he said was a serious debate at the time about what authority the vice president had concerning the certification of the election.

“The facts will show that the purpose of Dr. Eastman’s eventual assessment here was to delay, to delay the counting of the electoral votes so that there could be reasonable investigation undertaken by those states,” he said.

The proceedings are expected to last at least eight days. The California State Bar is a regulatory agency and the only court system in the U.S. that is dedicated to attorney discipline. Eastman is expected to testify later Tuesday.

Eastman has been a member of the California Bar since 1997, according to its website.

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