Posts tagged with "John Eastman"

Judge recommends that John Eastman be disbarred for 2020 election BS

March 29, 2024

On Wednesday, March 27, a judge recommended that John Eastman–a now-infamous former lawyer for former President Donald Trump during the chaotic final days of his presidential term–be disbarred in California as the result of a case centered around his desperate attempts to overturn the 2020 election in Trump’s favor, reports The Daily Beast.

“Eastman’s wrongdoing constitutes exceptionally serious ethical violations warranting severe professional discipline,” the court states in its decision.

Eastman, 63, can no longer practice law in California, unless he wins an appeal. The decision from Judge Yvette Roland means his law license will now be deemed “inactive” until a decision on whether he will appeal or not. The move to an inactive status comes into effect three calendar days after the order is served. Absent a challenge, the recommendation goes to the California Supreme Court for review, the State Bar of California said.

On Wednesday night, a lawyer for Eastman confirmed his plans to appeal, which means the case will go before a panel of judges before making its way to the state Supreme Court. His law license will remain inactive during the appeals process.

In a statement, Eastman’s attorney, Randall Miller, told The Daily Beast that his client “maintains that his handling of the legal issues he was asked to assess after November 2020 election was based on reliable legal precedent, prior presidential elections, research of constitutional text, and extensive scholarly material.”

“The process undertaken by Dr. Eastman in 2020 is the same process taken by lawyers every day and everywhere–indeed, that is the essence of what lawyers do,” the statement continued, noting Eastman also faces criminal charges in Georgia alongside Trump and will continue to plead his innocence.

“Any reasonable person can see the inherent unfairness of prohibiting a presumed-innocent defendant from being able to earn the funds needed to pay for the enormous expenses required to defend himself, in the profession in which he has long been licensed,” Miller said. “That is not justice and serves no legitimate purpose to protect the public.”

Defending the win in court, Chief Trial Counsel George Cardona said in a statement after the ruling that, “Every California attorney has the duty to uphold the constitution and the rule of law. [Mr.] Eastman repeatedly violated that duty. Worse, he did so in a way that threatened the fundamental principles of our democracy.

 “The substantial evidence presented over 35 days of trial showed, and the court has now held, that … Eastman abandoned his ethical and legal duties as an attorney to conspire with then-President Donald Trump to develop and implement a strategy to obstruct the counting of electoral votes on January 6, 2021; and illegally disrupt the peaceful transfer of power to President-elect Joseph Biden, knowing that there was no good faith theory or argument to lawfully reject the electoral votes of any state or delay the January 6 electoral count.

“[Mr.] Eastman’s efforts failed only because our democratic institutions and those committed to upholding them held strong. The harm caused by … Eastman’s abandonment of his duties as a lawyer, and the threat his actions posed to our democracy, more than warrant his disbarment.”

The ruling came four months after a judge in the California State Bar Court found Eastman culpable for moral and legal violations that stemmed from his work for Trump.

Eastman was the author of a so-called “coup memo,” which laid out a long-shot plot explaining how, despite soundly losing to Biden in 2020, Trump could remain in office.

That memo leaned hard on the fringe legal theory that Mike Pence, then the vice president, had the unilateral authority to reject certified state electors and send the matter back to Republican-led state legislatures, who would then throw the election to Trump. The questionable legal theory sparked a firestorm among Trump’s die-hard supporters, who then put pressure on Pence to ignore the will of the people and nullify the election.

Pence refused to do so—an act that’s been cited as a key reason Trump supporters raided the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021.

Eastman has since been indicted alongside Trump in Fulton County, Georgia, on charges related to his attempts to alter election results. In the aftermath of that indictment, Eastman decried that Trump’s lawyers were being unfairly targeted for their role in trying to overturn the election.

In a statement, he said last August that he surrendered to Georgia authorities for “an indictment that should never have been brought.”

Research contact: @thedailybeast

Georgia prosecutors won’t consider plea deals for Mark Meadows, Rudy Giuliani, or Donald Trump

November 30, 2023

 

Georgia prosecutors in former President Donald Trump’s election interference racketeering case reportedly say they will not consider plea deals for co-defendants Mark Meadows or Rudy Giuliani—or for Trump himself, reports New York’s Daily News.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis has decided to proceed to try Trump and his two top lieutenants as the alleged ringleaders of his plot to steal the 2020 election in the Peach State and elsewhere, The Guardian reported on Tuesday, November 28.

Willis has named Trump the leader of the multipronged conspiracy to overturn his loss to President Joe Biden.

Former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows may have hoped to wriggle off the hook in the Georgia case, but has so far unsuccessfully sought to have his case moved to federal court. He offered some cooperation to Special Counsel Jack Smith in exchange for testimony to the federal grand jury investigating the election interference case, but has apparently not made any formal cooperation deal.

Giuliani faces a plethora of legal woes in Georgia and elsewhere—including a slam-dunk defeat in a defamation case filed by Atlanta election workers whom he falsely accused of rigging votes for President Biden. The judgment could bankrupt him.

The ex-mayor also is named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the federal election interference case led by Smith. He submitted to questioning by Smith’s team in what legal analysts called an effort to win a deal to avoid prosecution, but there is no sign that he was successful.

Aside from signaling danger to Meadows and Giuliani, the reported decision by Willis could serve as a flashing invitation to the other dozen or so remaining co-defendants to step up talks for plea agreements in the sprawling case.

The most prominent name that was left off of Willis’ must-face-trial list is

pro-Trump law professor John Eastman.The right-wing law professor is considered the architect of Trump’s alleged scheme to convince Republican lawmakers in Georgia and other battleground states to create bogus slates of pro-Trump electors to muddy the waters of Biden’s victory.

That is one of several intertwined plots laid out in the RICO indictment, along with an effort to bully officials into investigating bogus claims of widespread voter fraud and a bizarre plan to hack into voting machines in a rural pro-Trump Georgia county.

So far, three other Trump lawyers have pleaded guilty and agreed to testify against Trump and the others, along with a Trump campaign activist who allegedly aided the Coffee County voting machine effort.

That leaves 14 co-defendants still facing the prospect of going on trial alongside Trump. Several of them are relatively low-level participants in the plot; or fake electors who legal analysts say should have a strong incentive to plead guilty and put the case behind them.

Georgia’s RICO law carries sentences of up to 20 years in prison and would not be subject to pardons. The statute is considered a particularly powerful weapon for prosecutors, and Willis has proven her effectiveness at using it to jail crooked mobsters, drug dealers and even cheating teachers.

Willis has asked Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee to set an August 5 date for the trial, which is expected to last several months. lf that schedule holds, Trump would face the daunting prospect of being on trial in an Atlanta courtroom during the last months of the 2024 presidential campaign.

Trump faces a March 4 trial in Washington, D.C., in the federal election interference case presided over by District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan.

Research contact: @NYDailyNews

 

Fani Willis’s grand-slam indictment against Donald Trump

August 16, 2023

Like a clean-up hitter in baseball, Fulton County, Georgia, District Attorney Fani Willis has hit a grand slam home run with her indictment of former President Donald Trump, reports The Hill.

It is by far the most comprehensive of the four criminal indictments now pending against the former president—in terms of the kinds of crimes it alleges, the places in which they occurred, and the number of people charged.

Georgia, which was ground zero for Trump’s lies about the election outcome and his effort to overturn the results of the 2020 election, now looks like it also will be ground zero for those seeking to hold the former president accountable.

The indictment filed by Willis draws on various state laws to name what Trump did in the wake of the 2020 election and rightly calls the Trump campaign a criminal enterprise for the coordinated efforts it made to overturn the election results.

While Special Counsel Jack Smith’s August 1 indictment seemed narrowly focused and tailored to avoid any unnecessary legal complexity, Willis appears to have chosen a different path.

The Georgia indictment lays out, in soup-to-nuts fashion, many crimes. Some are already well-know and, if proven, are quite serious. Others, although also serious, have received much less publicity.

The indictment does a service to American democracy by providing the broadest possible framework to describe the crimes that Trump and others allegedly committed in Georgia and elsewhere.

As the indictment states in its succinct introduction: “Defendant Donald John Trump lost the United States presidential election held on November 3, 2020. One of the states he lost was Georgia. Trump and the other Defendants charged in this Indictment refused to accept that Trump lost, and they knowingly and willfully joined a conspiracy to unlawfully change the outcome of the election in favor of Trump.”

“That conspiracy,” the indictment continues, “contained a common plan and purpose to commit two or more acts of racketeering activity in Fulton County, Georgia, elsewhere in the State of Georgia, and in other states … including, but not limited to, Arizona, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, and in the District of Columbia.”

The charges contained in the 41-count indictment involve Trump and 18 others, a rogues’ gallery of collaborators in the ex-president’s alleged criminal enterprise, including Rudy Giuliani, John Eastman, Mark Meadows, Sidney Powell, and Jeffrey Clark. The named defendants are liable to severe criminal penalties, with the very real prospect that some, or all of them, will end up joining the 47,000 people already serving time in Georgia prisons.

At the heart of Willis’s grand slam indictment is the charge that Trump’s conduct violated Georgia’s laws against racketeering, a type of organized crime typically involving fraud or extortion. This charge conjures images of the kinds of things done by Al Capone or Jimmy Hoffa—and now of the four-time indicted former president.

Georgia’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), enacted in 1980, was written more broadly than its federal counterpart. Under Georgia’s law, it is easier to prove a pattern of racketeering than it would be with a federal RICO charge. As The Guardian notes, “It requires prosecutors to show the existence of an ‘enterprise’—and a pattern of racketeering activity that is predicated on at least two ‘qualifying’ crimes.”

Among those crimes the indictment lists: making false statements concerning fraud in the November 3, 2020 election; corruptly soliciting Georgia officials, “including the Secretary of State and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, to violate their oaths to the Georgia Constitution and to the United States Constitution by unlawfully changing the outcome of the November 3, 2020 presidential election”; and creating “false Electoral College documents and recruit[ing] individuals to convene and cast false Electoral College votes.”

The Georgia indictment also charges Trump and others with conspiracy to commit election fraud. Those efforts include what Trump calls his “perfect phone call” to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, in which the then-president asked him to find 11,780 votes and warned he might face criminal prosecution if he failed to do so.

Using the racketeering charge for Trump’s election tampering efforts, seems, at first glance, to be going into what Georgia State University law professor Anthony Michael Kreis calls “deeply uncharted territory.” Applying it in this context, he says, “is very new. That is something that we haven’t seen in Georgia before, and it hasn’t really happened elsewhere before.”

And because of its complexity—trying a racketeering case with 19 defendants, each with their own lawyer and legal strategy—it will not be easy to pull off. But, given Willis’s track record, Trump should take this racketeering charge very seriously.

If it is televised, America will see defendant Trump sitting quietly with his lawyers while he is prosecuted by a Black woman in a city which Joe Biden carried overwhelmingly. This is hardly the visual which our reality-TV-star-turned-president generally prefers, although it may play into his overarching narrative of victimization in a demographically changing America.

In the end, the filing of Willis’s indictment means that Georgia will be, as lyrics in the well-known song by Ray Charles say, very much on Trump’s mind—as well as on the minds of Americans seeking a forum to examine the damage he has done to our democracy.

Research contact: @thehill

Previously secret memo laid out strategy for Trump to overturn Biden’s win

August 10, 2023

A missing piece in the public record of how Trump’s allies developed their strategy to overturn Biden’s victory has come to light: Kenneth Chesebro, a lawyer associated with former President Donald Trump, first outlined the plot to use false slates of electors to subvert the 2020 election in a previously unknown internal campaign memo, reports The New York Times.

Prosecutors now are portraying that memo as a crucial link in how the Trump team’s efforts evolved into a criminal conspiracy.

The existence of the December 6, 2020, memo came to light in last week’s indictment of Trump, although its details remained unclear. But a copy obtained by the Times shows for the first time that the lawyer, Kenneth Chesebro, acknowledged from the start that he was proposing “a bold, controversial strategy” that the Supreme Court “likely” would reject in the end.

But even if the plan did not ultimately pass legal muster at the highest level, Chesebro argued that it would achieve two goals. It would focus attention on claims of voter fraud and “buy the Trump campaign more time to win litigation that would deprive Biden of electoral votes and/or add to Trump’s column.”

Chesebro proposed that, in mid-December, the false Trump electors could go through the motions of voting as if they had the authority to do so. On January 6, 2021, then-Vice President Mike Pence could unilaterally count those slates of votes, rather than the official and certified ones for Joe Biden.

While that basic plan itself was already known, the document, described by prosecutors as the “fraudulent elector memo,” provides new details about how it originated and was discussed behind the scenes.

Among those details is. Chesebro’s proposed “messaging” strategy to explain why pro-Trump electors were meeting in states where Biden was declared the winner. The campaign would present that step as “a routine measure that is necessary to ensure” that the correct electoral slate could be counted by Congress, if courts or legislatures later concluded that Trump had actually won the states.

It was not the first time that Chesebro had raised the notion of creating alternate electors. In November, he had suggested doing so in Wisconsin, although for a different reason: to safeguard Trump’s rights in case he later won a court battle and was declared that state’s certified winner by January 6, as had happened with Hawaii in 1960.

But the indictment portrayed the December 6 memo as a “sharp departure” from that proposal—becoming what prosecutors say was a criminal plot to engineer “a fake controversy that would derail the proper certification of Biden as president-elect.”

“I recognize that what I suggest is a bold, controversial strategy, and that there are many reasons why it might not end up being executed on January 6,” Chesebro wrote. “But as long as it is one possible option, to preserve it as a possibility it is important that the Trump-Pence electors cast their electoral votes on December 14.”

Three days later, Chesebro drew up specific instructions to create fraudulent electors in multiple states—in another memo whose existence, along with the one in November, was  first reported by the Times last year. The House committee investigating the January 6 riot also cited them in its December report, but it apparently did not learn of the December 6 memo.

“I believe that what can be achieved on January 6 is not simply to keep Biden below 270 electoral votes,” Chesebro wrote in the newly disclosed memo. “It seems feasible that the vote count can be conducted so that at no point will Trump be behind in the electoral vote count unless and until Biden can obtain a favorable decision from the Supreme Court upholding the Electoral Count Act as constitutional, or otherwise recognizing the power of Congress (and not the president of the Senate) to count the votes.”

Chesebro and his lawyer did not respond to requests for comment. A Trump spokesperson did not respond to an email seeking comment.

The false electors scheme was perhaps the most sprawling of Trump’s various efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election. It involved lawyers working on his campaign’s behalf across seven states, dozens of electors willing to claim that Trump—not Biden—had won their states, and open resistance from some of those potential electors that the plan could be illegal or even “appear treasonous.”

In the end, it became the cornerstone of the indictment against Trump.

While another lawyer, John Eastman—described as Co-Conspirator 2 in the indictment —became a key figure who championed the plan and worked more directly with Trump on it, Chesebro was the architect of it.

Research contact: @nytimes

‘Decisions are imminent’: Georgia prosecutor nears charging decisions in Trump probe

January 26, 2023

The Atlanta-area district attorney investigating Donald Trump’s effort to subvert the 2020 election indicated on Tuesday, January 24,  that decisions on whether to seek the indictment of the former president or his associates were “imminent,” reports Politico.

“Decisions are imminent,” Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis said during a Tuesday court hearing called by the Georgia trial court judge overseeing the “special purpose grand jury” that Willis has used to gather evidence over the last year.

Willis’ remark came as she urged the superior court judge, Robert McBurney, to oppose calls to publicly release the findings of her yearlong probe, which she conducted alongside the special grand jury to examine Trump and his inner circle.

Willis has spent the last year investigating Trump’s and his allies’ effort to reverse the election results in Georgia, despite losing the state by more than 11,000 votes.

The special grand jury probed Trump’s January 2 phone call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger—asking him to “find” just enough votes to put him ahead of Joe Biden in the state.

And it pursued evidence about Trump’s broader national effort to subvert the election, calling top allies like his White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, Attorney John Eastman, and Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina).

The special grand jury concluded its investigation earlier this month, dissolving in early January, and recommended that its findings be released publicly. McBurney then called for a hearing to discuss whether to follow the panel’s recommendation or maintain the secrecy of the report. Willis told the judge that making the report public could jeopardize impending prosecutions.

“In this case, the state understands the media’s inquiry and the world’s interest. But we have to be mindful of protecting future defendants’ rights,” Willis said, emphasizing that multiple people could face charges.

Tuesday’s discussion was the result of Georgia’s unusual grand jury law, which permits prosecutors to impanel a “special purpose grand jury” that has no power to make formal indictments but can help prosecutors gather evidence about a specific topic. If Willis opts to pursue charges against Trump or others, she needs to present her evidence to a traditional grand jury, which could then issue indictments.

Thomas Clyde, an attorney representing several media outlets supporting the release of the report, urged McBurney to side with the grand jurors rather than Willis.

“We believe the report should be released now and in its entirety,” Clyde said.

He noted that findings in criminal investigations are often released publicly even while investigations and grand jury proceedings continue.

McBurney noted that Willis’ probe has been accompanied by an extraordinary release of information and evidence by the House January 6 select committee and from witnesses being called before a federal grand jury probing the same matters, none of which had derailed Willis’ probe. He also noted that there was little to stop individual grand jurors from simply telling others about the findings in their report.

But McBurney said he wanted more time to consider the arguments and said any ruling he made would provide significant advance notice before the potential release of the report.

Research contact: @politico

January 6 panel issues final report, placing blame for capitol riot on ‘one man’

December 26, 2022

Declaring that the central cause of the January 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol was “one man,” the House select committee investigating the insurrection delivered its final report on Thursday, December 22—describing in extensive detail how former President DonaldTrump had carried out what it called “a multipart plan to overturn the 2020 presidential election” and offering recommendations for steps to assure nothing like it could happen again, reports The New York Times.

The report—released late on Thursday night—revealed new evidence about Trump’s conduct, and recommended that Congress consider whether to bar Trump and his allies from holding office in the future under the 14th Amendment’s ban on insurrectionists.

“The central cause of January 6 was one man, former President Donald Trump, whom many others followed,” the report said. “None of the events of January 6 would have happened without him.”

The release of the full report was the culmination of the panel’s 18-month inquiry and came three days after the committee—as it referred him to the Justice Department for potential prosecution—voted to formally accuse Trump of:

  • Inciting insurrection,
  • Conspiracy to defraud the United States,
  • Obstruction of an act of Congress, and
  • One other federal crime.

While the referrals do not compel federal prosecutors to take any action, they sent a powerful signal that a select committee of Congress believes the former president committed crimes.

“Our institutions are only strong when those who hold office are faithful to our Constitution,” Representative Liz Cheney, Republican of Wyoming and the vice chairwoman of the committee, wrote in the report, adding: “Part of the tragedy of January 6 is the conduct of those who knew that what happened was profoundly wrong, but nevertheless tried to downplay it, minimize it or defend those responsible.”

The report contains the committee’s legislative recommendations, which are intended to prevent future presidents from attempting a similar plot. The panel  already has endorsed overhauling the Electoral Count Act, the law that Trump and his allies tried to exploit on January 6 in an attempt to cling to power. The House is scheduled to give final approval to that overhaul on Friday.

Among committee recommendations were a possible overhaul of the Insurrection Act and strengthening the enforcement of the 14th Amendment’s ban on insurrectionists holding office.

The panel also said Congress should consider legislation to bolster its subpoena power and increase penalties against those who threaten election workers. And it said bar associations should consider whether any of the lawyers who aided Trump’s attempts to overturn the election should be punished.

In addition to its focus on Trump’s actions, the report went into great detail about a supporting cast of lieutenants who enabled him. Mark Meadows, his final chief of staff, and the lawyers John Eastman, Rudy GiulianiJeffrey Clark, and Kenneth Chesebro were named as potential “co-conspirators” in Trump’s various attempts to cling to power.

Trump bashed the report on his social media site, Truth Social, calling it “highly partisan.”

The committee already had released the report’s executive summary, a lawyerly, 154-page narrative of Trump’s relentless drive to remain in power after he lost the 2020 election by seven million votes.

The report that follows the summary was largely an expanded version of the panel’s widely watched set of hearings this summer—which routinely drew more than 10 million viewers—with its chapter topics mirroring the themes of those sessions.

Those included Trump’s spreading of lies about the election, the creation of fake slates of pro-Trump electors in states won by President Joe Biden; and the former president’s pressure campaign against state officials, the Justice Department and former Vice President Mike Pence. The committee’s report documents how Trump summoned a mob of his supporters to Washington and then did nothing to stop them as they attacked the Capitol for more than three hours.

The committee’s report is the result of an investigation that included more than 1,000 witness interviews and a review of more than one million pages of documents, obtained after the panel issued more than 100 subpoenas.

Research contact: @nytimes

DOJ issues 40 subpoenas in a week—expanding its January 6 inquiry

September 14, 2022

Justice Department officials have seized the phones of two top advisers to former President Donald Trump and blanketed his aides with about 40 subpoenas in a substantial escalation of the investigation into his efforts to subvert the 2020 election, according to people familiar with the inquiry, reports The New York Times.

The seizure of the phones—coupled with a widening effort to obtain information from those around Trump after the 2020 election—represent some of the most aggressive steps the department has taken thus far in its criminal investigation into the actions that led to the January 6, 2021, assault on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob.

The extent of the investigation has come into focus in recent days, even though it often has been overshadowed by the government’s legal clash with Trump and his lawyers over a separate inquiry into the handling of presidential records—including highly classified materials, the former president kept at his residence in Florida, the Mar-a-Lago Club.

Federal agents with court-authorized search warrants took phones last week from at least two people: Boris Epshteyn, an in-house counsel who helps coordinate Trump’s legal efforts; and Mike Roman, a campaign strategist who was the director of Election Day operations for the Trump campaign in 2020, people familiar with the investigation said.

Epshteyn and Roman have been linked to a critical element of Trump’s bid to hold onto power—the effort to name slates of electors pledged Trump from swing states won by Joe Biden in 2020 as part of a plan to block or delay congressional certification of Biden’s Electoral College victory.

Epshteyn and Roman did not respond to requests for comment. A Justice Department spokesman declined to comment.

The names of those receiving the latest round of subpoenas in the investigation related to January 6 have dribbled out gradually, with investigators casting a wide net on a range of issues, including Trump’s postelection fund-raising and the so-called fake electors scheme.

One of the recipients, people familiar with the case said, was Dan Scavino, Trump’s former social media director who rose from working at a Trump-owned golf course to become one of his most loyal West Wing aides, and has remained an adviser since Trump left office. Stanley Woodward, one of Scavino’s lawyers, declined to comment.

Another was Bernard Kerik, a former New York City police commissioner. Kerik, who promoted claims of voter fraud alongside his friend Rudy Giuliani, was issued a subpoena by prosecutors with the U.S. attorney’s office in Washington, D.C., his lawyer, Timothy Parlatore, said on Monday, September 12. Parlatore said his client had initially offered to grant an interview voluntarily.

The subpoenas seek information in connection with the fake electors plan.

For months, Trump associates have received subpoenas related to other aspects of the investigations into his efforts to cling to power. But in a new line of inquiry, some of the latest subpoenas focus on the activities of the Save America political action committee, the main political fund-raising conduit for Trump since he left office.

The fact that the Justice Department is now seeking information related to fund-raising comes as the House committee examining the January 6 attack has raised questions about money Trump solicited under the premise of fighting election fraud.

The new subpoenas encompass a wide variety of those in Mr. Trump’s orbit, from low-level aides to his most senior advisers.

The Justice Department has spent more than a year focused on investigating hundreds of rioters who were on the ground at the Capitol on Jan. 6. But this spring, it started issuing grand jury subpoenas to people like Ali Alexander, a prominent organizer with the pro-Trump Stop the Steal group, who helped plan the march to the Capitol after Mr. Trump gave a speech that day at the Ellipse near the White House.

While it remains unclear how many subpoenas had been issued in that early round, the information they sought was broad.

According to one subpoena obtained by The New York Times, they asked for any records or communications from people who organized, spoke at, or provided security for Trump’s rally at the Ellipse. They also requested information about any members of the executive and legislative branches who may have taken part in planning or executing the rally, or tried to “obstruct, influence, impede, or delay” the certification of the presidential election.

By early summer, the grand jury investigation had taken another turn, as several subpoenas were issued to state lawmakers and state Republican officials allied with Trump who took part in a plan to create fake slates of pro-Trump electors in several key swing states that Biden actually won.

At least 20 of these subpoenas were sent out and sought information about, and communications with, several lawyers who took part in the fake elector scheme, including Giuliani and John Eastman.

Around the same time, federal investigators seized Eastman’s cellphone and the phone of another lawyer, Jeffrey Clark, whom Trump had sought at one point to install as the acting attorney general. Clark had his own role in the fake elector scheme: In December 2020, he helped draft a letter to Governor Brian Kemp (R) of Georgia, saying that the state’s election results had been marred by fraud and recommending that Kemp convene a special session of the Georgia Legislature to create a slate of pro-Trump electors.

At least some of the new subpoenas also requested all records that the recipients had turned over to the House January 6 committee, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Research contact: @nytimes

Seven Trump allies subpoenaed in Georgia criminal investigation

July 7, 2022

Seven advisers to and allies of former President Donald Trump—including his former personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and GOP Senator Lindsey Graham—were subpoenaed on Tuesday, July 5, in the ongoing criminal investigation in Georgia of election interference by Trump and his associates, reports The New York Times.

The move was the latest sign that the inquiry has entangled a number of prominent members of Trump’s orbit and may cloud the future for the former president.

The subpoenas underscore the breadth of the investigation by Fani T. Willis, the district attorney of Fulton County, which encompasses most of Atlanta. She is weighing a range of charges, according to legal filings, including racketeering and conspiracy, and her inquiry has encompassed witnesses from beyond the state.

The latest round of subpoenas was reported earlier by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

According to the Times, the Fulton County investigation is one of several inquiries into efforts by Trump and his team to overturn the election, but it is the one that appears to put them in the greatest immediate legal jeopardy.

A House special committee continues to investigate the January 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol. And there is an intensifying investigation by the Justice Department into a scheme to create slates of fake presidential electors in 2020.

Amid the deepening investigations, Trump is weighing an early entrance into the 2024 presidential race; people close to him have said he believes it would bolster his claims that the investigations are politically motivated.

A subpoena is not an indication that someone is a subject of an inquiry, although some of the latest recipients are considered at risk in the case—in particular, Giuliani, who has emerged as a central figure in the grand jury proceedings in the Georgia investigation. Giuliani spent several hours speaking before state legislative panels in December 2020, where he peddled false conspiracy theories about corrupted voting machines and a video that he claimed showed secret suitcases of Democratic ballots. He told members of the State House at the time, “You cannot possibly certify Georgia in good faith.”

Willis’s office, in its subpoena, said Giuliani “possesses unique knowledge concerning communications between himself, former President Trump, the Trump campaign, and other known and unknown individuals involved in the multistate, coordinated efforts to influence the results of the November 2020 election in Georgia and elsewhere.”

Though the subpoenas were issued Tuesday, not all had necessarily been received. Robert J. Costello, a lawyer for Mr. Giuliani, said, “We have not been served with any subpoena, therefore we have no current comment.”

Others sent subpoenas included Jenna Ellis, a lawyer who worked closely with Giuliani to overturn the 2020 election results; John Eastman, the legal architect of a plan to keep Trump in power by using fake electors; and Graham, the South Carolina Republican who called Georgia Secretary of State, Brad Raffensperger, a fellow Republican, days after the election to inquire about the rules for discarding mail-in ballots.

Another prominent lawyer who received a subpoena, Cleta Mitchell, was on a January 2, 2021, call that Trump made to Raffensperger, during which he asked the secretary of state to find enough votes to reverse Georgia’s results. The subpoena to her said, “During the telephone call, the witness and others made allegations of widespread voter fraud in the November 2020 election in Georgia and pressured Secretary Raffensperger to take action in his official capacity to investigate unfounded claims of fraud.”

Two other Trump lawyers also have been subpoenaed: Jacki Pick Deason, who helped make the Trump team’s case before the Georgia legislature, and Kenneth Chesebro, whose role has come into sharper focus during the House January 6 hearings. In an email exchange with Eastman in the run-up to the January 6 attack, Chesebro wrote that the Supreme Court would be more likely to act on a Wisconsin legal challenge “if the justices start to fear that there will be ‘wild’ chaos on January 6 unless they rule by then, either way.”

The special grand jury was impaneled in early May and has up to one year to complete its work before issuing a report advising Willis on whether to pursue criminal charges, although Willis has said she hopes to conclude much sooner. In official letters sent to potential witnesses, her office has said that it is examining potential violations that include “the solicitation of election fraud, the making of false statements to state and local governmental bodies, conspiracy, racketeering, violation of oath of office and any involvement in violence or threats related to the election’s administration.”

The new subpoenas offered some further clues about where her investigation is focused.

Research contact: @nytimes

FBI seizes phone of John Eastman, key figure in effort to overturn 2020 election

June 29, 2022

Federal agents seized the cell phone of John Eastman—an attorney who advised former President Donald Trump how to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election—Eastman said in a court filing on Monday, June 27, reports The Huffington Post.

Eastman filed a lawsuit asking the Justice Department to return his property and destroy any records it had obtained after FBI agents in New Mexico stopped him as he was leaving a restaurant last week. The investigators had a warrant and seized his iPhone, the filing says, and agents were able to access his email accounts.

He said in the filing that the agents “forced” him to unlock the device.

“By its very breadth, the warrant intrudes on significant privacy interests, both of [Eastman] and of others whose communications with him are accessible on the seized cell phone,” his attorneys wrote in the filing, obtained by The Hill.

Eastman was a key figure in developing a plan that would have seen Vice President Mike Pence delay or block certification of the 2020 Electoral College results, and his work has become a central focus of the House select committee investigating the January 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Pence refused to go along with the scheme.

Eastman also spoke at the January 6 rally just before the Capitol attack, where Trump falsely claimed that widespread election fraud had cost him the White House. There is no evidence to support those allegations.

The seizure of Eastman’s phone came the same day federal authorities searched the home of Jeffery Clark, a former Justice Department official under Trump who encouraged the then-president’s efforts to remain in office, despite his Electoral College loss to Joe Biden.

Clark had served in the Trump administration as assistant attorney general of the environment and natural resources division—but became close to the White House after the 2020 election. At one point, Trump mulled putting Clark in charge of the Justice Department after William Barr resigned after refusing to go along with Trump’s false claims of widespread voter fraud.

The House select committee focused heavily on Eastman’s efforts to aid Trump during its third hearing this month. The body, citing an email he sent to Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani, also noted that Eastman sought to be on the president’s “pardon list.”

Research contact: @HuffPost

At third hearing, January 6 committee focuses on Trump’s efforts to pressure Pence

June 17, 2022

The third hearing by the House select committee investigating the January. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol focused in on a wide-ranging pressure campaign that then-President Donald Trump put on his own vice president, Mike Pence, to disrupt the transfer of power that day, reports The Wall Street Journal.

The hearing on Thursday, June 16, was led by Representative Pete Aguilar (D-California), according to committee aides; while John Wood, a senior investigator for the committee, was involved in questioning witnesses.

The committee in its second hearing on Monday reviewed evidence that Trump was told repeatedly by White House insiders, including his own attorney general, William Barr, that his claims that the 2020 election was riddled with fraud weren’t true. Trump, who refused to acknowledge the lack of evidence of election fraud, continued to assert that the election had been stolen. The committee says those claims helped inspire the mob on January 6 to storm the Capitol.

During the second public hearing, former Attorney General William Barr said the voter fraud claims were “disturbing allegations.” Witnesses testified on former President Donald Trump’s efforts to cast doubt on the election, which the committee alleges triggered the attack on the Capitol.

Trump has denied wrongdoing related to the riot and called the committee’s probe a sham.

On Thursday, the committee detailed how Trump, over the course of several weeks leading up to January 6, pushed Pence—who as vice president presided over the counting of Electoral College votes—to refuse to accept votes for Joe Biden from a handful of battleground states, throwing the election into chaos. The former president was following a playbook sketched out by lawyer John Eastman in a memo entitled “January 6 scenario.”

The scheme detailed by Eastman was based in part on the existence of fake slates of electors from seven battleground states—including Pennsylvania, Arizona and Georgia—signed by Trump backers. The hearing outlined evidence from the committee’s investigation into efforts to submit those slates, according to committee aides.

Under Eastman’s plan, Pence would refuse to count ballots in states that had multiple slates of electors. That would leave Trump with a majority of votes, and “Pence then gavels President Trump as re-elected,” according to the memo.

After expected objections from Democrats, Pence would send the matter to the House, where each state would have one vote. Since Republicans at the time controlled the delegations of 26 states, “President Trump is re-elected,”  Eastman wrote.

Another version of the plan involved sending the electoral votes back to state legislatures, which would determine which electoral slates to send to Congress. More than 100 Republican House members and several Republican senators challenged votes from states such as Pennsylvania—challenges the House and Senate ultimately rejected.

Pence consulted with several experts about Eastman’s plan, including former U.S. Court of Appeals Judge J. Michael Luttig, who hagreed to appear at the committee’s hearing Thursday.

In a letter distributed to members of Congress on January6, Pence wrote that, while some thought he could accept or reject electoral votes unilaterally, he didn’t think he had the “authority to decide which electoral votes should be counted during the Joint Session of Congress.”

In a speech to the pro-Trump crowd at the Ellipse near the White House on January. 6, Eastman said, “All we are demanding of Vice President Pence is this afternoon at 1:00 he let the legislators of the [states] look into this so we get to the bottom of it.”

“All Vice President Pence has to do is send it back to the states to recertify and we become president,” Trump said in his January 6 speech to the crowd, which followed Eastman’s.

After Trump’s speech, a large crowd started moving toward the Capitol. Trump later tweeted that Pence “didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution.” Members of the mob that broke into the Capitol began chanting “hang Mike Pence”—and Trump was said to have privately agreed that they “might be right.”

Indeed, Representative Liz Cheney (R-Wyoming), vice chairwoman of the select committee, in her opening statement at the panel’s first hearing said that Trump, aware of the chants, responded: “Maybe our supporters have the right idea.”

At the Thursday hearing, the committee planned to feature video evidence showing the danger Mr. Pence faced on January 6, committee aides said.

Research contact: @WSJ