State bar Acts on O.C. lawyer

Attorney who advised Trump on overturning election is charged with ethics violations.

The State Bar of California filed disciplinary charges Thursday against Orange County attorney John Eastman, accusing him of multiple ethics violations stemming from his actions while advising then-President Trump on how to overturn the 2020 election.

The charges could be the first step to Eastman losing his California law license.

Eastman, a former professor and dean at Chapman University’s Fowler School of Law, emerged as a key legal advisor to Trump in the weeks after Joe Biden won the presidency.

Eastman helped develop a legal and political strategy promoting the false claim that the results were tainted by fraud and misconduct by election officials, according to a 35-page charging document filed by the State Bar.

In the months that followed, the U.S. attorney general and others told the Trump campaign that there was no evidence of widespread fraud that could have affected the outcome of the election. Dozens of courts dismissed cases alleging fraud.

Still, the State Bar alleges, Eastman continued to work with Trump to promote the lie of a stolen election.

Eastman must be held accountable for his role in “an egregious and unprecedented attack on our democracy,” George Cardona, the State Bar’s chief trial counsel, said in a statement.

An attorney’s highest duty is abiding by the federal and state constitutions, and Eastman violated that duty, Cardona wrote.

The 11 disciplinary charges against Eastman include failure to support the Constitution and laws of the United States, misrepresentation, seeking to mislead a court, and making false and misleading statements that constitute acts of “moral turpitude, dishonesty and corruption.”

State Bar officials said they intend to seek Eastman’s disbarment before the State Bar Court.

In a Substack post, Eastman said the State Bar filing is “filled with distortions, half-truths and outright falsehoods.” In the post, which seeks funds for his legal defense, he also asks for prayers.

Eastman’s attorney, Randall A. Miller, said in a statement that his client “disputes every aspect of the action that has been filed against him by the State Bar.”

“The complaint filed against Eastman that triggered today’s action by the State Bar 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,” the statement said. “Americans of both political parties should be troubled by this politicization of our nation’s state bars.”

The State Bar alleges that Eastman wrote legal memos — one in December 2020 and another on Jan. 3, 2021 — advising Vice President Mike Pence that he could declare that election results in seven states were in dispute.

This would have led to electoral votes going uncounted and could have opened the door for Trump to remain president.

In the second memo, Eastman asserted that the “election was tainted by outright fraud (both traditional ballot stuffing and electronic manipulation of voting tabulation machines),” according to the state bar filing.

Eastman knew or should have known that the assertion was “false and misleading,” the State Bar filing said.

In a speech to tens of thousands of Trump supporters at the National Mall in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6, Eastman said that “dead people had voted” and that electronic voting machines made by the Dominion company had altered the election results.

Eastman’s comments constituted an “act of moral turpitude, dishonesty and corruption,” were “false and misleading” and helped provoke the crowd to attack the Capitol, the filing said.

Eastman has a long history in California’s conservative legal circles.

He was hired by Chapman’s law school in 1999 and was dean from June 2007 to January 2010, then continued to teach courses in constitutional law, property law, legal history and the 1st Amendment.

He retired in early 2021 after more than 100 Chapman faculty and others affiliated with the university signed a letter calling on the school to take action against him for his role in the Jan. 6 insurrection.

Thursday’s charges are the result of a lengthy investigation into Eastman’s actions that began in 2021.

In October of that year, the nonpartisan legal group States United Democracy Center filed an ethics complaint calling on the State Bar to investigate Eastman’s Jan. 6 actions.

Christine P. Sun, a senior vice president at the States United Democracy Center, said in a statement Thursday that Eastman “abused the legal system and violated the oath he swore as an attorney, in an attempt to block the will of the people and prevent the peaceful transfer of power.”

The level of detail included in the filing indicates that the State Bar is taking the allegations against Eastman seriously, said UC Berkeley Law Dean Erwin Chemerinsky.

Click here to read the full article at LA Times

Who will be GOP’s national leader?

California attorney Harmeet Dhillon is in the running for the post of RNC chair.

Mounting frustration over GOP electoral losses has incited a contentious leadership battle that pits a prominent California Republican against the party’s national leader.

The effort by San Francisco attorney Harmeet Dhillon, whose clients include former President Trump, to oust Republican National Committee Chair Ronna Romney McDaniel will be decided at a party meeting in Dana Point that begins Wednesday.

Both women are ardent, vocal Trump supporters — a reflection of the grip the former president still has on the party more than two years after losing the White House. Both have pledged to remain neutral in the 2024 GOP presidential primary if elected as chair.

McDaniel, the niece of Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), is widely viewed as having the edge in the race. But Dhillon, a longtime state party leader, has received the support of prominent conservatives, including Fox News personality Tucker Carlson, in a contest that has been laced with what appeared to be calculated attacks about Dhillon’s Sikh faith and McDaniel’s role in the party’s subpar performance in recent elections.

Some committee members are concerned that the increasingly ugly infighting could affect the party’s prospects and hope McDaniel and Dhillon can make peace, regardless of the outcome.

“They’ve both got to talk and agree that whoever wins, the other one’s going to say the right things and do the right things,” said Mississippi committee member Henry Barbour. The nephew of former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour declined to say whom he will vote for. “If we at the RNC can’t come together, how can we expect voters to come together?” he asked.

A surprise victory by Dhillon would breathe life into a moribund California Republican Party that in recent decades has dwindled into political irrelevance and would follow closely behind Bakersfield Republican Kevin McCarthy’s narrow victory to become speaker of the House. The ascension of California Republicans to the pinnacle of the national political universe would go a long way toward salving the sting of the party’s failure to win any statewide election since 2006.

“Harmeet has more of a shot than what the public expectations are,” said Tim Miller, a former advisor to GOP presidential candidates who worked at the RNC but left the party in 2020. “The smart money is on Ronna. … Ronna knows all these people, she’s been working the inside game for years, which is a huge advantage. But Harmeet has tapped into legitimate frustration with the RNC.”

The task ahead for the next RNC chair, who will lead the party during the 2024 presidential election, will not be easy. Republican activists and donors are exasperated by Democrats’ success in the 2018 midterm election, the loss of the White House in 2020 and their inability to take control of the Senate and narrow win in the House of Representatives last year, when most analysts predicted a red wave.

Dhillon said these upsets, as well as McDaniel’s decision to seek an unprecedented fourth term, prompted her bid to lead the party. To rebound, she said, the party must promote the use of mail ballots, counter Democratic efforts to boost weak candidates in GOP primaries and provide smarter messaging to young and minority voters.

“There are a lot of changes that need to be made for us to be in fighting shape to win in ’24,” Dhillon said. “I’m tired of Republicans losing elections.”

Born in India, Dhillon, 54, and her family immigrated to Britain, then to New York City, before settling in rural North Carolina. Her parents registered as Republicans after they became naturalized citizens, in part because of the disdain her father, an orthopedic surgeon, had for trial lawyers because of medical malpractice lawsuits. They were also driven by the persecution of Sikhs in India, which was decried by Republican Jesse Helms, at the time a senator from North Carolina. Dhillon’s parents hosted fundraisers for Helms.

After law school, Dhillon settled in San Francisco. She became active in Bay Area politics after hosting debate watch parties during President George W. Bush’s reelection campaign in 2004 and was elected vice chair of the state GOP in 2013. Three years later, she was elected as one of California’s three representatives on the Republican National Committee, on which she has served ever since.

Dhillon and her law firm’s prominence grew exponentially during the Trump administration and the COVID-19 pandemic. She frequently appears on conservative media, and her firm has filed lawsuits over conservative rights on college campuses, pandemic restrictions and other causes dear to Republican voters. This month, a nonprofit she founded sued a California school district for allegedly helping transition an elementary school student to another gender without informing her parents.

“Harmeet’s tough; she has not been afraid of challenging incumbents,” said Ron Nehring, a former state party chair. “She’s very action-oriented, and it has worked to her benefit.”

Dhillon was a delegate for Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) in the 2016 presidential election until he dropped out, at which point she joined her husband, Sarvjit Randhawa, as a Trump delegate.

Her tactics, particularly her work on behalf of election deniers such as Trump, have been criticized. Her law firm represented the former president during the congressional hearings over the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection. In the aftermath of the 2022 raid of Mar-a-Lago, Dhillon called the leadership of the FBI “thoroughly corrupt” and said the bureau and the Department of Justice had “engaged in elaborate meddling in multiple elections now over the last couple of elections.”

She also accused federal authorities of concealing President Biden’s handling of classified documents to influence the outcome of the 2022 election.

Dhillon raised money for Trump’s legal efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election, telling followers on Twitter to “STOP THE STEAL” and encouraging them to chip in to Trump’s election defense fund. She also represented failed Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake, an election denier who may appear on Dhillon’s behalf at this week’s meeting.

Trump chose McDaniel to be RNC chair after he was elected in 2016 and endorsed her for reelection twice. But he has publicly stayed neutral in the contest between McDaniel and Dhillon.

“I can honestly say I like both of them,” he said last week on the podcast “The Water Cooler.” “Let them fight it out.”

Both candidates argue that the contest is being influenced by consultants who want lucrative contracts with the RNC. But the ugliest controversy in the race centers on religion.

Dhillon received national attention when she sang a Sikh invocation at the 2016 GOP convention. She and her allies allege that McDaniel supporters are undermining her candidacy by saying that Dhillon would jeopardize the party’s focus on religious freedom because she is not Christian; this included sharing a video of her delivering the Sikh prayer in Punjabi.

“I was shocked, disappointed and frankly disgusted that someone was willing to use bigotry as a tactic to whip votes for their preferred candidate,” North Dakota committee member Lori Hinz, a Dhillon supporter, emailed fellow committee members Thursday. She said she was urged by a McDaniel ally not to support Dhillon because of her religion.

The attacks on Dhillon’s faith echo those lobbed against her when she successfully ran for vice chair of the California Republican Party in 2013 — the convention hall was strewn with fliers that called her a “Taj Mahal princess,” and rivals whispered that she would slaughter a goat at the dais during meetings.

McDaniel, whose representatives did not respond to requests for comment, has denounced the slurs. She noted that she is Mormon, also a faith that has long been attacked.

“I wholeheartedly condemn religious bigotry in any form,” McDaniel said in a Fox News Digital article published Friday. “We are the party of faith, family and freedom, and these attacks have no place in our party or our politics. As a member of a minority faith myself, I would never condone such attacks.”

McDaniel, 49, is the former leader of the Michigan Republican Party. She stopped using her maiden name, Romney, once she became RNC chair, reportedly because Trump asked her to, according to the Washington Post. Sen. Mitt Romney has been fiercely critical of Trump, who has labeled him a loser.

The contest will be decided by a majority vote of the RNC’s 168 committee members. McDaniel released a list of more than 100 members who support her, backing that should guarantee her reelection. Dhillon declined to say how many members back her bid.

Among McDaniel’s supporters is Iowa GOP Chair Jeff Kaufmann, who praised her support of keeping his state’s caucus as the nation’s first Republican presidential voting contest in 2024 and pushed back at criticism of her over the party’s performance last year.

“The RNC chair doesn’t pick candidates and deals with what’s handed to them,” Kaufmann said, pointing to victories in his state and others.

Dhillon’s fellow California RNC members — state party Chair Jessica Millan Patterson and Shawn Steel, husband of Orange County Republican Rep. Michelle Steel — are also backing McDaniel. Neither responded to requests for comment.

MyPillow founder Mike Lindell, an ardent Trump supporter and conspiracy theorist, is also running for chair. He is expected to have marginal support at the RNC meeting this week at the Waldorf Astoria.

A private candidate forum is scheduled for Wednesday evening, and the chair vote is expected to take place Friday.

Click here to read the full article in the LA Times

D.C. Journalist Proves Biden Did Absolutely Nothing Wrong By Assuming He Did Absolutely Nothing Wrong

Missing classified documents are only a problem when a president that the bureaucracy doesn’t like has them.

If the entire news media, plus Biden’s vindictive Justice Department, hadn’t put the country through months of insanity over the petty “confidential documents” drama at Mar-a-Lago, Biden’s own scandal of having illegally retained government material when he was a private citizen would be a pretty boring affair.

But they didn’t. They decided to get cute and make this a criminal matter. Now they get the same treatment.

Wait! they claim in unison. This is different! Biden did the right thing and Trump did the wrong thing!

Admittedly, that’s a totally fair and obvious point when you start with the assumption that over the six years Biden was in wrongful possession of government secrets, the material just sat there, untouched and unread (and make the concurrent assumption that the same wasn’t true of the Trump documents). They simply gathered dust, month by month, sound asleep in office drawers and garage boxes, forgotten by Biden, time, and the federal bureaucracy. Then, when one fateful day Biden’s lawyers happened upon the documents, they immediately dialed the National Archives for a swift transfer to the proper authorities.

That’s the entire premise of longtime Washington, D.C., journalist Garrett Graff’s essay this week in The New York Times: Biden says he did nothing wrong, and anyway, he immediately handed over all the materials that he possessed (but definitely never looked at) for six years!

“Mr. Biden’s scandal so far feels more like an administrative error; there’s no evidence he even knew the documents were misplaced or in his possession, and when discovered they were promptly and properly returned to authorities,” wrote Graff. “The government didn’t know they were missing (which itself is a bit of a mystery, since classified documents are usually tightly controlled, which is how the National Archives knew Mr. Trump had missing documents in the first place), and Mr. Biden didn’t try to hold onto them in the face of a legal process ordering otherwise.”

See?! Biden had no problems turning over the documents he’d been sitting on, doing absolutely nothing with, for six years! Besides, the government didn’t even know they were missing! No harm, no foul!

That version of events doesn’t do what Graff, Washington’s least interesting writer, thinks it does. He thinks it portrays Biden as an innocent hoarder who didn’t realize the things in his possession were not his to have. What it does is prove what right-wingers have been saying all along: that Donald Trump (along with what he represents) is the subject of a political persecution, that the rules don’t apply to everyone, and that the media are every bit a part of the corruption.

Missing classified documents are only a problem when a president that the bureaucracy doesn’t like has them. If they like you, hold onto them — for six years, even! Meanwhile, Trump was in possession of what he purportedly believes is his property and it took far less time for the FBI to decide to raid his private residence to get it back.

As for the presumption of innocence — that’s reserved for people whom Graff and Washington like. Biden says he never used the government secrets while he was a private citizen. He didn’t even know he had them.

What’s that you say? Biden’s son Hunter regularly rakes in hundreds of thousands of dollars doing business with foreign governments? Totally unrelated! Besides, like Biden said, he didn’t know he had the classified documents!

Click here to read the full article in the Federalist.om

Jonathan Turley Slams Chuck Todd Over ‘Angry’ Hunter Biden Interview with Sen. Ron Johnson

Chuck Todd and Sen. Ron Johnson got into a heated conversation on Sunday’s “Meet the Press” over whether Hunter Biden committed any crimes through his overseas business dealings — sparking a fierce rebuttal from legal scholar Jonathan Turley eviscerating the NBC News anchor.

The fiery exchange started after Johnson, who with Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), led a Senate investigation into Hunter Biden’s business relationships in Ukraine and China, was pressed by Todd on what actual laws President Biden’s son may have violated.

“Senator, do you have a crime that you think Hunter Biden committed because I’ve yet to see anybody explain? It is not a crime to make money off of your last name,” Todd said to the Wisconsin Republican.

Turley, a professor at George Washington University, provided his own answer to Todd’s question in a lengthy Twitter thread — while also pointing out an apparent double standard on the part of the anchor.

“While Todd just heaps insults upon those who have called for investigations, he previously gave entirely non-confrontational and supportive interviews for investigating the possible ‘compromising’ of Trump or his family through foreign deals,” Turley said.

“There are of course a host of crimes, including some which may be charged. However, on the influence peddling scandal, there are foreign transfers, gifts, and other matters that could prove criminal,” he wrote. “The point is not that there are proven crimes but the need to have a special counsel to look into these offenses, including some that involve emails referencing the President.”

Johnson, in his response on the Sunday morning program, referenced allegations made in a report released last month by Garrett Ziegler, 26, a former Trump White House adviser who founded the conservative nonprofit group “Marco Polo.”

“Chuck, you ought to read the Marco Polo report, where they detail all kinds of potential crimes. You know, Senator Grassley has certainly covered …” Johnson said as Todd interrupted. 

“Hold on, let me stop you there. Potential. This is potential. Potential is innuendo,” Todd said. 

Johnson raised accusations in his Senate report, released in September 2020, that Hunter Biden paid about $30,000 to prostitutes caught up in European sex trafficking operations.

“Is that a crime?” Johnson asked Todd. “It sounds sleazy as you know what.”

‘ll take you at your word that you’re ethically bothered by Hunter Biden. I’m curious though, you seem to have a pattern,” Todd said.

“Are you not? Are you not?,” Johnson broke in. 

Todd replied that he deals in “facts” and is skeptical of claims made by both political parties. 

“I’m curious, were you at all concerned? Your Senate Democrats want to investigate Jared Kushner’s loan from the Qatari government when he was working in the government negotiating many things in the Middle East. Are you not as concerned about that? Are you not concerned about that? And I say that because it seems to me if you’re concerned about what Hunter Biden did, you should be equally outraged about what Jared Kushner did,” Todd said to Johnson. 

The senator said he wanted to get to the “truth,” adding, “I don’t target individuals.”

Todd said Johnson was “targeting” Hunter Biden. 

“Chuck, you know, part of the problem, and this is pretty obvious to anybody watching this, is you don’t invite me on to interview me. You invite me on to argue with me. You know, I’m just trying to lay out the facts that certainly Senator Grassley and I uncovered,” he said. 

“They were suppressed. They were censored. They interfered in the 2020 election. Conservatives understand that. Unfortunately, liberals and the media don’t. And part of the reason our politics are inflamed is we do not have an unbiased media. We don’t. It’s unfortunate. I’m all for a free press,” Johnson said. 

After some back-and-forth and talking over each other, Todd told Johnson: “Look, you can go back on your partisan cable cocoon and talk about media bias all you want. I understand it’s part of your identity” before switching topics. 

Click here to read the full article in the NY Post

McCarthy Elected House speaker in Rowdy Post-Midnight Vote

WASHINGTON —  

Republican Kevin McCarthy was elected House speaker on a historic post-midnight 15th ballot early Saturday, overcoming holdouts from his own ranks and floor tensions that boiled over after a chaotic week that tested the new GOP majority’s ability to govern.

“My father always told me, it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish,” McCarthy told cheering fellow Republicans.

Eager to confront President Joe Biden and the Democrats, he promised subpoenas and investigations. “Now the hard work begins,” the California Republican declared. He credited former President Donald Trump for standing with him and for making late calls “helping get those final votes.”

Republicans roared in celebration when his victory was announced, chanting “USA! USA!”

Finally elected, McCarthy took the oath of office, and the House was finally able to swear in newly elected lawmakers who had been waiting all week for the chamber to formally open and the 2023-24 session to begin.

After four days of grueling ballots, McCarthy flipped more than a dozen conservative holdouts to become supporters, including the chairman of the chamber’s Freedom Caucus.

He fell one vote short on the 14th ballot, and the chamber became raucous, unruly.

McCarthy strode to the back of the chamber to confront Republican Matt Gaetz, sitting with Lauren Boebert and other holdouts. Fingers were pointed, words exchanged and violence apparently just averted.

At one point, Republican Mike Rogers of Alabama, shouting, approached Gaetz before another Republican, Richard Hudson of North Carolina, physically pulled him back.

“Stay civil!” someone shouted.

Order restored, the Republicans fell in line to give McCarthy the post he had fought so hard to gain, House speaker, second in the line of succession to the presidency.

The few remaining Republican holdouts began voting present, dropping the tally he needed. It was the end of a bitter standoff that had shown the strengths and fragility of American democracy.

The tally was 216-212 with Democrats voting for leader Hakeem Jeffries, and six Republican holdouts to McCarthy simply voting present.

The night’s stunning turn of events came after McCarthy agreed to many of the detractors’ demands — including the reinstatement of a longstanding House rule that would allow any single member to call a vote to oust him from office.

Even as McCarthy secured the votes he needs, he will emerge as a weakened speaker, having given away some powers and constantly under the threat of being booted by his detractors.

But he could also be emboldened as a survivor of one of the more brutal fights for the gavel in U.S. history. Not since the Civil War era has a speaker’s vote dragged through so many rounds of voting.

The showdown that has stymied the new Congress came against the backdrop of the second anniversary of the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, which shook the country when a mob of Trump’s supporters tried to stop Congress from certifying the Republican’s 2020 election defeat to Biden.

At a Capitol event Friday, some lawmakers, all but one of them Democrats, observed a moment of silence and praised officers who helped protect Congress on that day. And at the White House, Biden handed out medals to officers and others who fought the attackers.

“America is a land of laws, not chaos,” he said.

At the afternoon speaker’s vote, a number of Republicans tiring of the spectacle temporarily walked out when one of McCarthy’s most ardent challengers, Gaetz, railed against the GOP leader.

Contours of a deal with conservative holdouts who had been blocking McCarthy’s rise had emerged the night before, and took hold after four dismal days and 14 failed votes in an intraparty standoff unseen in modern times.

One significant former holdout — Republican Scott Perry, chairman of the conservative Freedom Caucus, who had been a leader of Trump’s efforts to challenge the 2020 election — tweeted after his switched vote for McCarthy, “We’re at a turning point.”

Trump may have played a role in swaying some holdouts — calling into a meeting of Republican freshmen the night before, and calling other members ahead of voting. He had urged Republicans to wrap up their public dispute.

As Republican Mike Garcia of California nominated McCarthy on an earlier ballot Friday, he also thanked the U.S. Capitol Police, who were given a standing ovation for protecting lawmakers and the legislative seat of democracy on Jan. 6, 2021.

But in nominating the Democratic leader Jeffries, Democrat Jim Clyburn of South Carolina recalled the horror of that day. “The eyes of the country are on us today,” he told his colleagues.

Electing a speaker is normally an easy, joyous task for a party that has just won majority control. But not this time: About 200 Republicans were stymied by 20 far-right colleagues who said McCarthy was not conservative enough. Only the 12th ballot on Friday afternoon did McCarthy start making gains, flipping their votes to support.

The House adjourned Friday until late in the night, giving time for last-minute negotiations and allowing two absent Republican colleagues to return to Washington.

The disorganized start to the new Congress pointed to difficulties ahead with Republicans now in control of the House, much the way that some past Republican speakers, including John Boehner, had trouble leading a rebellious right flank. The result: government shutdowns, standoffs and Boehner’s early retirement when conservatives threatened to oust him.

The agreement McCarthy presented to the holdouts from the Freedom Caucus and others centers around rules changes they have been seeking for months. Those changes would shrink the power of the speaker’s office and give rank-and-file lawmakers more influence in drafting and passing legislation.

At the core of the emerging deal was the reinstatement of a House rule that would allow a single lawmaker to make a motion to “vacate the chair,” essentially calling a vote to oust the speaker. McCarthy had resisted allowing a return to the longstanding rule that former Speaker Nancy Pelosi had done away with, because it had been held over the head of Boehner. But it appears McCarthy had no other choice.

Click here to read the full article in the San Diego Union Tribune

Why the Jan. 6 Committee Handed Out a Criminal Referral to a Former California Law Professor

Former Chapman University professor John Eastman is among the individuals whom the Jan. 6 committee has recommended face federal criminal charges for their roles in the attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

The committee recommended that Eastman and former President Trump should face federal criminal charges for obstruction of an official proceeding and conspiracy to defraud the United States. It recommended prosecuting “Trump and others” on two additional charges: conspiracy to make a false statement and inciting, assisting, or aiding or comforting an insurrection.

“[Trump] entered into agreements, formal and informal, with several individuals who assisted him with his criminal objects,” Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) said during Monday’s committee hearing.

In a statement after the referrals were announced, Eastman said the referral of charges from the committee to the Justice Department “carries no more legal weight than a ‘referral’ from any American citizen.”

“In fact, a ‘referral’ from the January 6th committee should carry a great deal less weight due to the absurdly partisan nature of the process that produced it,” Eastman said.

Who is John Eastman?

Eastman’s theory that former Vice President Mike Pence could reject or delay the certification of state electors was essential to Trump’s effort to convince his base that the election was being stolen. Eastman was central to “the development of a legal strategy to justify a coup,” according to Douglas Letter, the general counsel to the House of Representatives.

Eastman was also involved with a scheme to appoint alternate slates of Trump electors who could vote him back into office after he lost the 2020 election.

Eastman is already under investigation. Justice Department investigators searched his cellphone and emails earlier this year. In a March court filing, the Jan. 6 committee alleged Eastman and Trump were a part of a “criminal conspiracy” to overturn the 2020 election.

“[Eastman’s] role was not simply as an advisor; he spoke at the rally on the morning of January 6, spreading falsehoods to tens of thousands of people,” the committee wrote.

Eastman was interviewed by the committee in 2021, but invoked his 5th Amendment rights against self-incrimination. Along with Trump and Eastman, the Committee recommended charges against former Trump Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, former Justice Dept. official Jeffrey Clark and former Trump Lawyer Rudy Giuliani.

Eastman has deep ties to Southern California and the conservative movement.

What’s Eastman’s background?

Eastman, 62, was born in Lincoln, Neb., and holds a bachelor’s degree in politics and economics from the University of Dallas, a law degree from the University of Chicago Law School and a doctorate in government from the Claremont Graduate School in Claremont.

Before joining Chapman University’s law school in 1999, Eastman clerked for conservative Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. (Thomas’ wife, Ginni, was also a focus of the Jan. 6 committee’s investigations.)

Eastman is currently a senior fellow at the Claremont Institute, a right-wing think tank, and founded the Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence.

During his speech at the Ellipse on Jan. 6, 2021, Eastman demanded that Pence “let the legislatures of the states look into this, so we get to the bottom of it, and the American people know whether we have control of the direction of our government or not.”

More than 140 Chapman University faculty members and three trustees signed a letter stating Eastman’s actions “should disqualify him from the privilege of teaching law to Chapman students and strip him of the honor of an endowed chair.”

Eastman called the letter “defamatory” and resigned before the faculty senate voted on a resolution against him. Both sides agreed not to sue each other, but Eastman’s connections to Chapman have affected the university’s reputation.

When did Eastman become acquainted with President Trump?

Eastman first officially entered the Trump orbit in the days after the Nov. 3, 2020, election when he was invited by people close to the then-president to help craft a legal memo challenging the election results in Pennsylvania.

In early December 2020, Trump asked him to bring legal action challenging the election directly to the Supreme Court. Eastman made two filings to the court, but the effort quickly failed.

What did Eastman do?

Eastman crafted a legal memo outlining the most politically palatable options for Trump to overturn the 2020 election. He suggested that Pence send the electoral college votes back to states for “recertification” by a new set of electors.

Depositions released by the committee show that Eastman was part of several meetings with Pence’s staff, including a Jan. 4, 2021, Oval Office meeting with Trump and Pence to discuss what authority Pence had.

Eastman “admitted in advance of the 2020 election that Mike Pence could not lawfully refuse to count official elector votes. But he nevertheless… deployed a combination of bogus election fraud claims and the fake electoral ballots to say that Mike Pence, presiding over the joint sessions, could reject legitimate electoral votes for President-elect Biden,” said Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-Redlands) during Monday’s hearing.

Emails released by the committee also show Eastman arguing with Pence’s staff during the riot about what the vice president should do when Congress returned to finish counting the votes.

The committee also highlighted Eastman’s effort to overturn the election even after the attack on the Capitol happened.

“The ‘siege’ is because YOU and your boss did not do what was necessary to allow this to be aired in a public way, so that the American people can see for themselves what happened,” Eastman wrote in an email to Greg Jacob, Pence’s lawyer.

Once the riot at the Capitol ended, Eastman again emailed Jacob to say the vice president should refuse to certify the election and send it back to the states.

Under the Constitution, the vice president oversees the counting of the electoral college votes.

The House recently passed legislation declaring that the role of the vice president in electoral-vote counting is purely ceremonial. The measure is expected to pass the Senate in a spending bill later this month.

Did Eastman stop his efforts to overturn the election after Jan. 6, 2021?

No. Back in June, the committee released video showing a deposition by former White House attorney Eric Herschmann, who discussed a phone call from Eastman the day after the riot. Herschmann remembered Eastman asking him about preserving documentation dealing with the Georgia election that Eastman alleged could potentially be used in an appeal.

“And I said to him, ‘Are you out of your effing mind?’” Herschmann said in the video. “I said, ‘I only want to hear two words coming out of your mouth from now on: ‘orderly transition.’”

Herschmann demanded that Eastman repeat those two words back to him — Eastman eventually did.

“I said, ‘Good, John. Now I’m going to give you the best free legal advice you’re ever getting in your life: Get a great effing criminal defense lawyer. You’re going to need it,’” Herschmann said. “And then I hung up on him.”

Has Eastman’s opinion of the Jan. 6 events changed?

In a letter to the editor in the Wall Street Journal, Eastman denies that he claimed Pence “could unilaterally reject electoral votes and simply declare President Trump reelected.”

Click here to read the full article in the LA Times

GOP Support for Trump Fades, Polls Show

Following a month of negative publicity, nonpartisan and partisan surveys signal a fall from grace.

 It’s been a rough month for former President Trump.

Since his Nov. 15 announcement that he plans to make a third run for the presidency, his legal problems have increased; his handpicked candidate, Herschel Walker, lost the Senate runoff in Georgia; he has endured widespread criticism over his public association with racists and antisemites; and a growing number of Republican figures have started to say publicly what they used to whisper in private: Trump is a liability for their party.

Just after the midterms, it appeared that the results would undermine the former president within the GOP. A raft of new polls show that this has occurred: Trump’s once-solid support among Republicans has cracked, and his approval within his adopted party has fallen to levels not seen since he won its nomination in 2016.

No one should count the former president out. If we’ve learned anything in the more than seven years that he’s dominated public attention, it’s that Trump has formidable survival skills and that Republican elected officials have little stomach for battling him. But for now, and perhaps for longer, the midterm results have shaken his hold on the party in a way that previous events — even the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol — failed to do.

The evidence of a Trump fade could be almost as unwelcome at the White House as it is at Mar-a-Lago: President Biden and his aides have been planning a reelection campaign in large part around the argument that Trump poses a singular threat to American democracy. The former president’s recent social media post in which he called for the “termination of all rules, regulations, and articles, even those found in the Constitution” in order to place him back in office could serve as Exhibit A.

If Republicans nominate someone else, Democrats will argue that the candidate poses the same threat. But that’s a more difficult case to make to voters, especially if whoever emerges as the GOP nominee keeps a distance from Trump.

In this year’s midterm elections, candidates who closely tied themselves to Trump and his lies about the 2020 election — such as gubernatorial hopefuls Kari Lake in Arizona, Doug Mastriano in Pennsylvania and Tudor Dixon in Michigan — all lost. But voters seemed perfectly willing to cast ballots for other Republicans, such as Govs. Brian Kemp in Georgia and Mike DeWine in Ohio.

The evidence for a Trump fade comes from surveys by both partisan and nonpartisan pollsters.

The most recent Wall Street Journal poll found Trump trailing Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis 52%-38% in a hypothetical primary matchup. Perhaps worse for Trump, only 71% of Republicans had a favorable view of him. That’s down from 85% in March and the 90% or higher that polls typically found through most of his presidency.

At the same time, the share of Republicans who see Trump negatively has increased. The Economist/YouGov poll reported last week that 28% of Republicans had an unfavorable view of Trump — the worst rating since YouGov began tracking his image at the start of his presidency. Most of the change had taken place since August, the polling found.

Suffolk University poll conducted for USA Today found that just 47% of Republicans want Trump to run again, compared with 45% who do not. The share that wants him to run dropped from 56% in October and 60% in July.

It’s possible that these polls have caught Trump at a temporary low from which he’ll rebound. He has been through a month of steady negative publicity and has a rival, DeSantis, who benefits from not having been tested in a national campaign.

But those negative headlines aren’t likely to go away any time soon.

Some of the most damaging stories for Trump have resulted from his own actions, including his decision last month to have dinner with Kanye West and Nick Fuentes, two of the country’s best-known antisemites. Some Trump supporters blamed the dinner on the former president’s staff and said that in the future, aides would more diligently screen his visitors, but Trump has never taken well to efforts to control him.

On Wednesday, Trump posted on social media that he had a “major announcement” scheduled for Thursday. It turned out to be the launch of a line of digital playing cards featuring cartoon versions of his image. That’s hardly as damaging as dinner with racists, but it’s not the sort of action likely to calm Republicans who worry that their former standard-bearer isn’t focused on the task ahead.

Then there are the legal problems.

Between now and the first primaries of 2024, Trump could face trials in three civil cases: New York state Atty. Gen. Letitia James has accused him and his company of financial fraud involving inflated claims about the value of his assets; the writer E. Jean Carroll has accused him of raping her in the 1990s, then defaming her after she made her allegations public; and investors who lost money in what they allege was a pyramid scheme by a company called American Communications Network have sued him and his adult children for promoting the plan in television ads and public appearances.

Trump has survived many lawsuits over the decades, but now he also has exposure in at least three criminal investigations.

The district attorney in Atlanta is investigating whether he violated Georgia laws with his telephone call on Jan. 2, 2021, pressuring Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find 11,780 votes” — the number he would have needed to overturn Biden’s victory in the state. And Justice Department special counsel Jack Smith is overseeing two federal investigations, one into the Jan. 6 attack and the other into the mishandling of classified documents and other records that Trump hid at Mar-a-Lago, his Florida estate.

Some Trump backers have suggested that if he were indicted in one or more of those cases, he could use the charges to rally Republican voters to his side. Perhaps. What the current polling suggests, however, is that bad news has encouraged many Republicans, including some inclined to sympathize with Trump, to look for an alternative candidate.

Right now, that’s DeSantis. Whether the Florida governor can maintain his high standing remains unknown — lots of candidates look great until the campaign begins. For now, however, he fulfills the need that many Republicans feel for a candidate who espouses Trump’s policies without his erratic personal behavior.

The Suffolk University poll found that 65% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents said they want “Republicans to continue the policies Trump pursued in office, but with a different Republican nominee for president,” compared with 31% who want Trump to run again.

“Republicans and conservative independents increasingly want Trumpism without Trump,” said the poll’s director, David Paleologos.

But, as Paleologos noted, the 31% who still back Trump could be enough to win Republican primaries in a multicandidate field, which is how Trump won in 2016.

And it’s possible that many of those who have stuck with Trump this far will remain with him. His remaining backers are disproportionately rural and white voters who did not go to college — groups that have been among his staunchest supporters since the 2016 campaign. DeSantis does better among groups of Republicans who were more skeptical of Trump to begin with, such as college-educated white voters.

Click here to read the full article in the LA Times

Panel May Urge Criminal Charges Against Trump

Besides insurrection, defined as an uprising aiming to overthrow the government, the panel is also considering recommending that prosecutors pursue charges of obstructing an official proceeding and conspiracy to defraud the United States, a person familiar with the matter told the Associated Press. The committee’s deliberations were continuing late Friday, and no decisions were formalized on which charges the panel would refer to the Justice Department.

The committee is to meet publicly Monday afternoon, when any recommendation would be made public.

The deliberations were confirmed by a person familiar with the matter who could not discuss it publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity. A second person familiar with the deliberations confirmed that the committee was considering three charges.

The decision to issue referrals is not unexpected. Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), the vice chair of the committee, for months has been suggesting the panel might send the Justice Department criminal referrals based on the extensive evidence the nine-member panel has gathered since it was formed in July 2021.

“You may not send an armed mob to the Capitol; you may not sit for 187 minutes and refuse to stop the attack while it’s underway. You may not send out a tweet that incites further violence,” Cheney said about Trump on NBC’s “Meet the Press” in October. “So we’ve been very clear about a number of different criminal offenses that are likely at issue here.”

Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), the committee chair, detailed possible referrals last week as falling into categories that include criminal and ethics violations, legal misconduct and campaign finance violations. It would then fall to federal prosecutors to decide whether to pursue referrals for prosecution. Although they carry no legal weight, the recommendations would add to the political pressure on the Justice Department as a special counsel it appointed investigates Trump’s actions.

“The gravest offense in constitutional terms is the attempt to overthrow a presidential election and bypass the constitutional order,” committee member Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) told reporters last week. “Subsidiary to all of that are a whole host of statutory offenses, which support the gravity and magnitude of that violent assault on America.”

Raskin, along with Cheney and Reps. Adam B. Schiff (D-Burbank) and Zoe Lofgren (D-San Jose), made up the subcommittee that drafted the referral recommendations and presented them to the full committee.

Click here to read the full article in the LA Times

Some Loudmouth Politicians Are Finally Wearing Out Their Welcome

Voters gave a cold shoulder to candidates endorsed by former President Donald Trump, and Los Angeles County voters gave the heave-ho to Sheriff Alex Villanueva.

In one typically funny Monty Python sketch, author Oscar Wilde walks into a drawing room and says something pithy to the Prince of Wales: “Your Highness, there is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.” Bystanders laugh for an extended time in a sycophantic manner.

Wilde says something else and, again, he evokes laughter. Once again, Wilde says something similarly inane, but suddenly he faces stunned silence. The Python troupe apparently was poking fun at an incident in Wilde’s career, but I thought of the skit in the context of Donald Trump and the midterms.

First, we have a former president who can think of nothing worse than not being talked about. Second, I’m reminded of how Trump continues to make, er, unusual comments that for years have evoked thunderous applause, but suddenly fewer people find them funny anymore. Something changed after the GOP’s electoral flop.

After Trump gave his big speech on Tuesday, most networks and even Fox News downplayed the rambling talk. The New York Post—a reliably pro-Trump publication—featured this headline at the bottom of its front page: “Florida man makes announcement.” Buried on Page 26, the Post published a brutal short item under the headline, “Been there, Don that.”

“With just 720 days to go before the next election, a Florida retiree made the surprise announcement that he was running for president,” the article explained. “Avid golfer Donald J. Trump kicked things off at Mar-a-Lago, his resort and classified-documents library.” Ouch.

Perhaps Trump Fever finally has broken, which is encouraging after digesting the substance of his speech. He championed law-and-order themes that are inappropriate in a constitutional republic. He vowed to restore public safety by sending the military into cities even if cities don’t want the “help.”

Trump even touted China’s model for handling drug dealers: “If you get caught dealing drugs, you have an immediate and quick trial. And by the end of the day, you’re executed.” Our Constitution assures due process for anyone accused of a crime. Only under totalitarianism can someone be accused of a crime, judged, and executed on the same day. That’s childish posturing, not serious policy.

Nationally, Trump was the biggest loser on Election Day, even though he wasn’t on the ballot. Fortunately, voters rebuked other politicians with a similarly un-American sense of justice. Los Angeles County voters gave the heave-ho to Sheriff Alex Villanueva. They chose former Long Beach Police Chief Robert Luna, who seems like a normal reform-oriented lawman, by a 60-percent to 40-percent margin.

Unlike Trump, Villanueva at least conceded defeat. But his concession speech contained all the whiny, self-focused blather we’ve come to expect. “Every adversity I’ve faced throughout my years in law enforcement has always propelled me to a bigger stage, a bigger audience and a bigger voice,” he said. He certainly has a big voice, but perhaps voters had grown as tired of it as they’ve grown of Trump’s.

As NBC News reported, Villanueva “blamed defeat on what he claimed was a sweeping misinformation campaign and the use of ‘false narratives’ focused on issues including alleged deputy gangs, his alleged resistance of oversight by the county and Civilian Oversight Commission and other allegations of internal harassment and retaliation against purported whistleblowers.”

In April, Villanueva held a press conference where he pointed to a photo of a Los Angeles Times reporter and hinted that she may be a target in a criminal-leak investigation. He later relented, but instead of being observably concerned by the Times‘ reported allegations that “sheriff’s officials attempted to cover up an incident in which a deputy knelt on the head of a handcuffed inmate for three minutes,” he harangued the reporter.

Then there are the deputy-gangs allegations. Some deputies “have been accused of celebrating police brutality, intimidating and retaliating against fellow deputies, and running a shadow hierarchy that operates outside the chain of command,” per LAist.

Deputy gangs undermine trust in law enforcement and could violate citizens’ rights, but Villanueva calls them “cliques” and claims to have handled the problem. He defied subpoenas to testify and viewed the allegations as a political smear. He seemed unconcerned that some of his deputies may sport tattoos with alleged gang names such as Banditos and Executioners.

“I don’t expect deputies to get tattoos of Hello Kitty,” he said during a re-election kickoff event. “These are grown men and women and the tattoos they put on themselves. That’s an expression of their First Amendment right.” Wow.

Click here to read the full article at Reason.com

John Eastman’s Sorry Excuse for Jan. 6

The Trump adviser claims he didn’t tell Pence to reject electors. Here are receipts.

In the lead-up to the Jan. 6 riot, John Eastman gave President Trump legal advice that was terrible, and now he’s trying to argue it was merely awful. In a letter to these pages on Nov. 14, Mr. Eastman, a former law professor of some distinction, denies he argued that Vice President Mike Pence “could unilaterally reject electoral votes and simply declare President Trump re-elected.”

Mr. Eastman claims he made only a modest proposal, Swiftian allusion intended: “The advice I gave to then-Vice President Pence was that he accede to requests from hundreds of state lawmakers to delay proceedings for a short time so that they could assess the effect of illegalities on the conduct of the election.” Mr. Eastman specifically refers to a conversation during an Oval Office meeting on Jan. 4, 2021.

But his position is contradicted by the sworn testimony of Mr. Pence’s legal counsel, Greg Jacob. According to Mr. Jacob, Mr. Eastman argued at the Jan. 4 meeting that it would, in fact, be “legally viable” for the VP to reject electors. Mr. Eastman advised against this plan only because it would be “less politically palatable.” That concession apparently didn’t last.

The debate was renewed the next morning, Jan. 5. “When Mr. Eastman came in,” Mr. Jacob testified, “he said, I’m here to request that you reject the electors. So on the 4th, that had been the path that he had said, I’m not recommending that you do that. But on the 5th, he came in and expressly requested that.” A piece of Mr. Jacob’s handwritten notes is in the public record. The top reads: “John Eastman meeting 1/5/21.” Then: “Requesting VP reject.”

There also are the two memos Mr. Eastman produced in advance of Jan. 6, which circulated among Mr. Trump’s advisers. “Here’s the scenario we propose,” the first one says. The VP “announces that because of the ongoing disputes,” seven states have “no electors that can be deemed validly appointed,” and “Pence then gavels President Trump as re-elected.” The second memo offers a menu of options. One is for Mr. Pence to outright reject electors.

A final thing to point out is that the argument in Mr. Eastman’s letter isn’t a defense. It’s more like a plea bargain to a lesser transgression against the American republic. Asking Mr. Pence to reverse the 2020 election directly was appalling. Asking the VP to stall the Electoral College, so that state legislatures could reverse the 2020 election, was also appalling.

Suppose Mr. Pence had tried to delay. The result would have been a constitutional crisis. Federal law sets the time for choosing presidential electors, and it’s Election Day in November. Mr. Trump wanted state lawmakers to overrule the will of the voters two months later, and two weeks before the scheduled transfer of power, despite no proof of widespread voter fraud. Doing this could have led to violence.

Also, the 12th Amendment says the Electoral College shall be tallied “in the presence of the Senate and House of Representatives.” Democrats controlled the House. Speaker Nancy Pelosi would not have permitted any joint session to reconvene and tally those phony electors. With no Electoral College count by noon on Jan. 20, who’s next in line to become President? The Speaker of the House. Or perhaps the Supreme Court would have intervened.

Getting this history right matters. “The Vice President has the power to reject fraudulently chosen electors,” Mr. Trump tweeted on Jan. 5, 2021, the day before the riot. He didn’t come up with that idea himself.

Click here to read the full article in the Wall Street Journal