Conservative attorney John Eastman is currently the subject of an ethics investigation by the State Bar of California focused on his efforts to help former president Donald Trump overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.
The Golden State’s legal licensing board announced the inquiry in a Tuesday press release sent by the Office of Chief Trial Counsel.
According to the organization, the investigation centers around “whether Eastman engaged in conduct in violation of California law and ethics rules governing attorneys following and in relation to the November 2020 presidential election.” Apart from that general description, it is unclear precisely what the officials may be attempting to uncover or discover.
Some of Eastman’s connections to pro-Trump election matters have been heretofore documented. Eastman, among other things, was the counsel of record for Trump’s motion to intervene in Texas v. Pennsylvania, the ill-fated December 2020 attempt by Lone Star State Attorney General Ken Paxton to invoke the U.S. Supreme Court’s original jurisdiction and to therefore force the high court to intervene in the 2020 election. The robed justices rubbished that attempt and refused to hear the case after days of bizarre and absurd briefs — none of which went anywhere.
Law&Crime also previously reported on a legal memorandum penned by Eastman titled “January 6 scenario.” It outlined several controversial legal theories that might have seen Pence attempt to stop the counting of electoral college votes and pave the way for a second and consecutive Trump White House term.
Eastman was furthermore among those who spoke alongside President Trump in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6, 2021. As Law&Crime noted in late January 2021, Eastman deplored the subsequent violence at the Capitol Complex that day but said he did not play a role in inciting any of it.
Eastman has been under investigation for his role in post-election activity on behalf of Trump since September 2021, the state bar said on Tuesday.
“A number of individuals and entities have brought to the State Bar’s attention press reports, court filings, and other public documents detailing Mr. Eastman’s conduct,” the organization’s Chief Trial Counsel George Cardona said. “We want to thank those who took the time to bring to our attention this information, which serves as the starting point for our investigation. We will be proceeding with a single State Bar investigation in which we will continue to gather and analyze relevant evidence and go wherever it leads us.”
As Law&Crime previously reported, Lawyers Defending American Democracy filed a nine-page complaint against Eastman in December 2021 — approximately three months after the California bar says it launched its probe. That complaint focused on what they called Eastman’s “lobbying” of then-vice president Mike Pence “to disregard the electoral votes cast in six states that had voted for” President Joe Biden.
In its complaint, LDAD explicitly said they were seeking the suspension of the conservative attorney’s license to practice law — a fate that has befallen Rudy Giuliani, who was also part of Trump’s post-November 2020 legal team. The California State Bar’s press release involving Eastman, however, notes that its investigation is being conducted “to determine whether there is a basis for filing a Notice of Disciplinary Charges.”
The details of the investigation, including the conduct at issue, cannot be released under state disclosure laws and are also being kept under wraps “to give the investigation the greatest chance of success,” the press release explains.
Cardona explained why the investigation was acknowledged publicly:
The announcement is made pursuant to Business and Professions Code section 6086.1(b)(2) and State Bar Rule of Procedure 2302(d)(1), which authorize the Chief Trial Counsel, when warranted for protection of the public and after notice to the licensee, to issue an announcement confirming the fact of an investigation, clarifying the procedural aspects and current status of the investigation, and defending the right of a licensee to a fair hearing.
Eastman is also reportedly aware of the investigation.
Law&Crime reached out to Eastman for comment on this story, but a response was not forthcoming as of the time of publication.
Read Eastman’s motion to intervene in Texas v. Pennsylvania below:
[images via screengrab/YouTube]
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