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Trump Had 1st Amendment Right to Probe 2020 Election Results, Georgia Co-Defendant Says

Trump Had 1st Amendment Right to Probe 2020 Election Results, Georgia Co-Defendant Says

John Eastman attends a private event held at a ranch in northern Orange County, Calif., on Aug. 19, 2023. (Brad Jones/The Epoch Times)

Brad Jones

Brad Jones

8/22/2023

Updated: 8/29/2023

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BREA, Calif.—Indictments against former President Donald Trump and his attorneys and advisers for their actions regarding the 2020 elections are the United States’ “authoritarian moment,” according to embattled attorney John Eastman.
A former dean of Orange County’s Chapman University’s law school and former adviser to President Trump, Mr. Eastman is one of 18 co-defendants indicted with President Trump on Aug. 14 by a grand jury in Georgia over alleged efforts to dispute the results of the election in the state.
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis charged all 19 with at least one count of violating the state’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act in the indictment (pdf).
Mr. Eastman surrendered to authorities on Aug. 22 and was booked into Fulton County Jail. His disciplinary hearing in Los Angeles related to his post-election efforts was paused.
Mr. Eastman dismissed allegations that he conspired to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election, saying he was within his constitutional rights to advocate for a review of the election results based on reports of widespread election fraud.
“An old professor of mine said at various points in your life if you realize you’re not catching incoming flak, it means you’re not over the target. Now, I think I’m over the target,” he told more than 100 supporters at a private event held at a ranch in northern Orange County on Aug. 19.
As an attorney, Mr. Eastman said he had a legal and ethical duty to zealously advocate for his client, President Trump.
“That includes looking at different scenarios and possibilities within the law to help achieve the client’s goals, which is to have an honest investigation to determine, in fact, whether we had an honest election,” he said.
Instead, the government told the American people the election was perfectly fine, and that anybody who said otherwise must be lying, Mr. Eastman said.
John Eastman speaks to more than 100 supporters at a private event held at a ranch in northern Orange County, Calif., on Aug. 19, 2023. (Brad Jones/The Epoch Times)

John Eastman speaks to more than 100 supporters at a private event held at a ranch in northern Orange County, Calif., on Aug. 19, 2023. (Brad Jones/The Epoch Times)

The government expected the people to “just act like sheep” and accept what it said despite “evidence to the contrary,” he said. “This is what I call our authoritarian moment. This is straight out of Orwell’s ‘1984.’ This is authoritarianism at its heart.”
Former U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr acted too hastily when he concluded there was insufficient evidence of widespread election fraud to warrant a more thorough investigation and court challenges, Mr. Eastman said.
The right to petition the government for redress of grievances is part of the First Amendment and should be respected, he said.
“And so, when I’m asking them to accept legislator-requested delay so that they can investigate and get to the bottom of it, that is square-on protected by the petition clause in the First Amendment,” he said.
Meanwhile, Mr. Eastman said, he could face up to 60 years in prison, while President Trump could be sentenced to 1,000.
Supporters of former Trump attorney John Eastman pose for a photo at a private event held at a ranch in northern Orange County, Calif., on Aug. 19, 2023. (Brad Jones/The Epoch Times)

Supporters of former Trump attorney John Eastman pose for a photo at a private event held at a ranch in northern Orange County, Calif., on Aug. 19, 2023. (Brad Jones/The Epoch Times)

Disciplinary Hearing

The State Bar of California filed disciplinary charges against Mr. Eastman in January, accusing him of 11 ethics violations while he was advising then-President Trump.
The allegations include “failure to support the Constitution and laws of the United States” and making “false and misleading statements” said to constitute “acts of moral turpitude, dishonesty, and corruption,” by intent or gross negligence.
Mr. Eastman responded to the charges in a Substack article posted the same day, in which he wrote that the 35-page complaint was “filled with distortions, half-truths and outright falsehoods.”
The States United Democracy Center is a left-leaning election law organization founded as the Voter Protection Program in 2020 and rebranded to its current name after the election, according to Influence Watch, a watchdog group connected to the Capital Research Center, an investigative think tank.
The program was founded by Norm Eisen, a lawyer who served as the “ethics czar” in the Obama administration, and was one of many strategy groups formed to coordinate Democratic campaign committees in case President Trump lost and contested election results, according to Influence Watch.
In the California State Bar complaint, officials argued that Mr. Eastman’s license to practice law should be revoked for allegedly claiming widespread election fraud and misconduct by election officials and pushing a legal strategy intended to overturn the Nov. 3, 2020, election results.
But, Mr. Eastman told The Epoch Times on Aug. 19, the state bar should have thrown out the complaint after reviewing it and realizing “it’s a hyper-partisan attack.”
The onslaught of litigation, he said, is intended to bleed him dry and “get a high-profile scalp” to intimidate other attorneys and keep them from taking on election integrity cases.
“That’s exactly the goal,” he said. “They haven’t hidden it.”

Cancel Culture

Mr. Eastman also told The Epoch Times the American people are fed up with cancel culture, and that judging by the “utter failures” of Disney movies, and major financial losses of Anheuser-Busch and Target for promoting “woke” causes such as transgenderism, boycotts have been effective.
“I think the American people have had it, and I think they’re rising up,” he said. “They’re fighting back against cancel culture by going after the corporations that are jamming it down their throats with boycotts. They’re voting with their feet and their pocketbooks.”
Cancel culture is “very real” and has had a chilling effect on free speech, he said.
“I was, within a week, canceled from two university positions. I think I hold the record on that,” he said. “There is overt cancellation after you’ve spoken up, but there is a chilling effect for everybody else who is afraid to talk lest they be canceled, and this is why protection of the First Amendment is supposed to be so robust, so that people don’t self-censor and avoid talking about important public issues.”
Supporters of former Trump attorney John Eastman listening to his speech at a private event held at a ranch in northern Orange County, Calif., on Aug. 19, 2023. (Brad Jones/The Epoch Times)

Supporters of former Trump attorney John Eastman listening to his speech at a private event held at a ranch in northern Orange County, Calif., on Aug. 19, 2023. (Brad Jones/The Epoch Times)

Mr. Eastman said he has never fully appreciated, until recently, the depth of Revolutionary War patriot Patrick Henry’s words: “‘These are the times that try men’s souls.’ ... In such times, we can’t rely on summer soldiers or summer patriots.”
Mr. Eastman said he has been thrust into the front of this battle and urged his fellow citizens to join him in his fight.
“We need people that are in for the long haul and willing to fight to defend liberty, even at great cost to themselves, because more is at stake than our own comfort,” he said. “Join me on the ramparts. I don’t want to be lonely up there.”

Support for Eastman

Deborah Pauly, president of Conservative Patriots of Orange County, who organized an event in support of Mr. Eastman, told The Epoch Times she’s worried about the future of the United States.
“Donald Trump is not the problem. He is the one who exposed the problem, and he rightfully identifies it as ‘the Swamp,’” she said. “I love my country, and I’m pretty disappointed in the government right now.”
With the recent indictments, Ms. Pauly said the nation has reached a point of critical mass, and that she is now seeing an outpouring of support from people from all walks of life coming together to “save this country.”
“I’m concerned about what I’m leaving to my children and my children’s children. I think we have work to do to make sure we’re leaving them something worth having.”
Deborah Pauly, president of Conservative Patriots of Orange County, organizes a private event for supporters of former Trump attorney John Eastman at a ranch in northern Orange County, Calif., on Aug. 19, 2023. (Brad Jones/The Epoch Times)

Deborah Pauly, president of Conservative Patriots of Orange County, organizes a private event for supporters of former Trump attorney John Eastman at a ranch in northern Orange County, Calif., on Aug. 19, 2023. (Brad Jones/The Epoch Times)

Fran Klovstad, who hosted the event—called “Lowdown Hoedown”—at her family ranch, told The Epoch Times she and her husband, Bill, aren’t happy with the way President Trump and his supporters have been treated.
“We are very saddened and aggrieved about what’s happening with Donald Trump and also John Eastman, and so we’re doing what we can to help out,” she said. “We’re a military family. Our parents are military, and we believe in the Constitution. We are heavily involved in getting our country back on track.”
Bill Klovstad agreed with his wife.
“We believe in our freedom, and we believe in our Lord,” he said. “He has given us this country and we have a responsibility to be better stewards than what we’ve been. We’ve got to protect this nation. There are a lot of warriors here ... and everyone needs to be a warrior to fight for our country ... our freedom ... and our Constitution that is on the brink of being lost.”
Tien Tran, one of the “front row joes” at Trump rallies, sported a hat, blazer, and tie embroidered with “The World needs Trump more than ever.”
“We need to bring our president back,” he said.
Tien Tran, one of the “front row joes” at Trump rallies, sports a hat, blazer, and tie embroidered with “The World needs Trump more than ever" at a private event held at a ranch in northern Orange County, Calif., on Aug. 19, 2023. (Brad Jones/The Epoch Times)

Tien Tran, one of the “front row joes” at Trump rallies, sports a hat, blazer, and tie embroidered with “The World needs Trump more than ever" at a private event held at a ranch in northern Orange County, Calif., on Aug. 19, 2023. (Brad Jones/The Epoch Times)

Tien Tran, one of the “front row joes” at Trump rallies, sports a hat, blazer, and tie embroidered with “The World needs Trump more than ever" at a private event held at a ranch in northern Orange County, Calif., on Aug. 19, 2023. (Brad Jones/The Epoch Times)

Tien Tran, one of the “front row joes” at Trump rallies, sports a hat, blazer, and tie embroidered with “The World needs Trump more than ever" at a private event held at a ranch in northern Orange County, Calif., on Aug. 19, 2023. (Brad Jones/The Epoch Times)

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Brad Jones

Brad Jones

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Brad Jones is an award-winning journalist based in Southern California.

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