Ex-U.S. attorney: John Eastman statement "can be used against him" after he doubles down on Big Lie

“Asserting that legal ethics required him to subvert the constitution is the height of hypocrisy,” professor says

By Areeba Shah

Staff Writer

Published August 23, 2023 4:17PM (EDT)

John Eastman, former lawyer to former U.S. President Donald Trump poses for his booking photo on August 22, 2023 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)
John Eastman, former lawyer to former U.S. President Donald Trump poses for his booking photo on August 22, 2023 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)

John Eastman, the conservative lawyer who devised a strategy to help maintain former President Donald Trump's hold on power, doubled down on his false claims of election fraud after being booked at the Fulton County jail on Tuesday.

In a statement issued by his lawyers, Eastman said that his surrender was prompted by an indictment that, in his view, "should never have been brought."

Eastman told a reporter that there was "no question" in his mind that the 2020 election had been stolen from the former president.

"I am confident that, when the law is faithfully applied in this proceeding, all of my co-defendants and I will be fully vindicated," Eastman said.

Eastman was indicted last week alongside 18 other other co-conspirators in Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis' sprawling racketeering investigation. He turned himself in to Georgia authorities on Tuesday on charges linked to his attempts to undermine the integrity of the 2020 election.

"John Eastman is previewing his defense, which appears to be a good faith belief that the election was stolen," former U.S. Attorney Barb McQuade, a University of Michigan law professor, told Salon. "The prosecution will have the burden of proving either that he knew that statement was false, or that he used means he knew to be illegal to overturn the election results. His public statements can be used against him a trial if he should take an inconsistent position."

Eastman served as a close adviser to Trump leading up to the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol by the president's supporters, who aimed to disrupt the certification of President Joe Biden's electoral win.

As the mastermind behind a plot to undermine the certification of the Electoral College vote, Eastman wrote a memo outlining a series of actions that then-Vice President Mike Pence could potentially take during his role overseeing the joint session of Congress on that day to prevent the tallying of electoral votes and extend Trump's tenure in office.

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He and fellow co-defendant Rudy Giuliani provided remote testimony before Georgia lawmakers in late 2020. During this session, they asserted that there existed substantial evidence of extensive fraud in the 2020 election held in Georgia.

Despite facing nine charges including Violation of the State's RICO Act, conspiracy to commit impersonating a public officer and conspiracy to commit filing false documents, Eastman has maintained that the 2020 election was stolen.

"Of course, many defendants are publicly defiant at the time they are charged, and ultimately enter guilty pleas and cooperate once they review the discovery material and understand the likelihood of conviction," McQuade said.

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Eastman also criticized the indictment for targeting "attorneys for their zealous advocacy on behalf of their clients" and said each of the defendants was entitled to rely on the advice of lawyers and past legal precedent to challenge the results of the election.

"There is no more fundamental ethical obligation for a lawyer than that of upholding the constitution," James Sample, a Hofstra University constitutional law professor, told Salon. "John Eastman asserting that legal ethics required him to subvert the constitution is the height of hypocrisy."

Trump's attorneys also met with Fulton County prosecutors on Tuesday to establish the terms of his bail arrangement. 

As part of the agreement, the ex-president will need to post a $200,000 bond, commit to not partake in any additional criminal activities, attend court appearances as mandated and abstain from issuing any form of "explicit or implied threat" against his co-defendant, unindicted co-conspirators, witnesses or victims. 

Earlier this week, Trump posted to Truth Social that he plans to surrender on Thursday afternoon writing:  "Can you believe it? I'll be going to Atlanta, Georgia, on Thursday to be ARRESTED by a Radical Left District Attorney, Fani Willis, who is overseeing one of the greatest Murder and Violent Crime DISASTERS in American History. In my case, the trip to Atlanta is not for "Murder," but for making a PERFECT PHONE CALL! She campaigned, and is continuing to campaign, and raise money on, this WITCH HUNT. This is in strict coordination with Crooked Joe Biden's DOJ. It is all about ELECTION INTERFERENCE!"

By Areeba Shah

Areeba Shah is a staff writer at Salon covering news and politics. Previously, she was a research associate at Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington and a reporting fellow for the Pulitzer Center, where she covered how COVID-19 impacted migrant farmworkers in the Midwest.

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