Former Trump Lawyer May Face Disbarment Over 2020 Election Claims

John Eastman, an attorney and previous adviser for former President Donald Trump, is facing potential disbarment in the state of California, accused of spreading false claims about the 2020 election.

Eastman served as Trump's election lawyer during the days between the 2020 general election and the riot at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, and has faced federal scrutiny for his alleged role in the attack, including receiving a criminal referral after the House committee investigating January 6 finished its hearings last month.

On Thursday, the State Bar of California's chief trial counsel, George Cardona, announced that Eastman is facing 11 charges that "arise from allegations" that the attorney assisted Trump "in executing a strategy, unsupported by facts or law, to overturn the legitimate results of the 2020 presidential election by obstructing the count of electoral votes of certain states."

Specific charges that Eastman faces include accusations that he "made false and misleading statements regarding purported election fraud," specifically singling out statements he made while attending the rally in Washington, D.C., that led up to the Capitol riot, according to the announcement.

John Eastman and Donald Trump
John Eastman speaks outside the University of Colorado at Boulder on April 29, 2021. In the inset, former President Donald Trump is pictured. Eastman could face disbarment in California over accusations that he helped Trump's attempt to overturn the 2020 election results. Andy Cross/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post/Getty; Brandon Bell/Getty

Cardona's office had been investigating Eastman since September 2021 in order to determine if he violated California law and attorney ethics rules "following and in relation to the November 2020 presidential election," read a previous release.

On Thursday, Eastman's attorney, Randall Miller, told Newsweek in a statement that his client disputes "every aspect" of the disciplinary charges filed against him.

"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," read the statement.

Eastman had first caught Trump's eye in 2020 after he appeared on Fox News and Newsmax arguing that several states' electors were not constitutionally valid because of their changes to the rules for mail-in ballots.

The attorney would go on to represent Trump's White House in a failed legal challenge, filed with the state of Texas, that attempted to overturn the election results in such states.

Thursday's announcement also noted the two-page memo that Eastman wrote for former Vice President Mike Pence, laying out a six-step plan for how Pence could overturn the 2020 election results while Congress serviced the votes on January 6.

In the statement to Newsweek, Eastman's legal team said that its client's past representation "included his evaluation of alternatives available to President Trump in the fluid and fast-moving aftermath of the 2020 election, which was fraught with illegality and serious allegations of fraud that had been raised by numerous state and federal legislators and others."

Eastman also "ignored" truths about the 2020 election during the Save America March that led to the Capitol riots, according to the most recent release, where he stated during the rally that "'dead people had voted' in the presidential election, that Dominion voting machines had fraudulently manipulated the election results, and that Vice President Pence did not deserve to be in office if he did not delay the counting of electoral votes."

"There is nothing more sacrosanct to our American democracy than free and fair elections and the peaceful transfer of power," Cardona said in the announcement.

The State Bar Court will oversee Eastman's disciplinary proceedings, and noted that Eastman is "presumed to be innocent" until the charges have been proven.

Eastman's legal team said in its statement Thursday that any attorney "should be deeply troubled by the notion that a licensing authority can take their license if they do not like the lawyer's advice."

"The foundation of any engagement is that the lawyer shall protect the client's interests, at every turn. This includes raising all viable options," read the statement. "The attorney's role is as an advisor, the client as the decider."

Update 1/26/23, 9:50 p.m. ET: This story has been updated with comment from Eastman's legal team.