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California bar unveils disciplinary charges against Trump lawyer John Eastman

<i>Jim Bourg/Reuters/FILE</i><br/>John Eastman (left) stands next to Rudy Giuliani as Trump supporters gather at the U.S. Capitol ahead of the former president's speech to contest the certification by Congress of the results of the 2020 election on January 6
Jim Bourg/Reuters/FILE
John Eastman (left) stands next to Rudy Giuliani as Trump supporters gather at the U.S. Capitol ahead of the former president's speech to contest the certification by Congress of the results of the 2020 election on January 6

By Tierney Sneed

The State Bar of California unveiled new disciplinary charges against John Eastman for his involvement in former President Donald Trump’s efforts to subvert the 2020 election results.

The state bar’s trial counsel is bringing 11 counts against Eastman, accusing him of violating a variety of attorney ethics rules in multiple episodes, court cases and other conduct.

Among the gambits the new disciplinary proceedings are targeting is Eastman court filings submitted in Georgia and with the Supreme Court, the pressure campaign on then-Vice President Mike Pence to disrupt Congress’ certification and Eastman’s promotion of false election fraud claims.

“There is nothing more sacrosanct to our American democracy than free and fair elections and the peaceful transfer of power,” said George Cardona, the state bar’s chief trial counsel, said in a statement. “The Notice of Disciplinary Charges alleges that Mr. Eastman 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 — an egregious and unprecedented attack on our democracy — for which he must be held accountable.”

Eastman attorney Randall Miller said in a lengthy statement that Eastman “disputes ‘every aspect’ of the action that has been filed against him by the State Bar,” and alleged the charges were political in nature. Miller said Eastman would also challenge them and present his side of the case.

The charges say he violated ethics rules by pushing voter fraud claims — in litigation, in public statements, and in other aspects of his legal work — “that he knew, or was grossly negligent in not knowing were false.” He is also accused of relying on legal theories he knew or should have known were “fundamentally flawed” to argue Pence could interfere with Congress’ certification of the 2020 results.

Eastman now faces a deadline to respond to the charges.

The proceedings will eventually move to a state bar court for adjudication, though the state supreme court has the final word on whether disciplinary proceedings should result if an attorney’s suspension or disbarment.

The bar’s counsel said in the new charges that Eastman knew or should have known the Pence scheme ran afoul of the Constitution, with the charging papers pointing to an October 2020 email from Eastman seeming to reject the idea that states could put forward alternate slates of electors — a key element of the proposals he advocated for after the election.

Eastman violated attorney ethics rules by failing to support the Constitution, the disciplinary filings allege. He is also charged with seeking to mislead courts and with moral turpitude, including with his alleged misrepresentations.

Citing the bevy of post-election litigation, as well as comments from members of the Trump administration, election officials and other “credible sources” that debunked the election fraud claims, the disciplinary filings argue that Eastman knew or should have known he was making false assertions about the election.

Eastman is the latest Trump-aligned attorney to face disciplinary proceedings for work on election reversal schemes. A disciplinary panel in DC recently made a preliminary finding that former Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani violated ethics rules with his Trump election litigation — though there will be additional rounds of proceedings before that finding is finalized and a penalty is determined.

Jeffrey Clark, a former Justice Department lawyer who boosted Trump’s election reversal efforts, is facing disciplinary proceedings, as is Sidney Powell, an attorney who represented Trump’s campaign in litigation challenging the 2020 results.

This story has been updated with a statement from Eastman’s attorney.

™ & © 2023 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

CNN’s Katelyn Polantz contributed to this report.

Article Topic Follows: CNN - US Politics

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