Trump lawyer John Eastman surrenders in Fulton County

Trump lawyer was known to have floated idea of troops suppressing riots if election results were altered

John Bowden
Washington DC
Tuesday 22 August 2023 11:48 EDT
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Donald Trump’s former attorney John Eastman, a key architect of the scheme to change the results of the 2020 election, surrendered on criminal charges in Georgia on Tuesday.

The ex-Trump campaign legal mind was the second co-defendant of 19 known to have surrendered this week following the unsealing of a sprawling indictment last week charging Mr Trump, Mr Eastman and others with numerous felonies related to the election-tampering effort, including a violation of the state’s RICO law.

Mr Trump is thought to be planning a Thursday surrender.

Once a leader of the effort to interfere in the election certification process, Mr Eastman was known to have embraced wholeheartedly the idea of exclusively Republicans around the country rewriting the election results based on nonsense conspiracy theories that he and his colleagues were wholly unable to prove in court. He is also known to have supported using the US military to put down riots that he and others expected in the wake of planned interference in the January 6 Senate count of the Electoral College vote.

He is facing eight other felony counts as well, including soliciting a public official to violate their oath of office. In a statement, he derided the indictment as an attempt to prosecute what he described as a lawful effort to redress supposedly valid and serious concerns about election fraud.

Mr Eastman and his colleagues were known to have pursued their plan in spite of every credible expert in the US government informing them that their claims could not be substantiated.

The Fulton County prosecution of Mr Eastman is far from the only consequences he has faced professionally for his involvement in what many political and legal experts described as an insurrection on January 6. He is currently undergoing an effort to disbar him in California, a fate shared by fellow Trump legal team member Rudy Giuliani. In both cases, the men are accused of making numerous false statements and supporting conspiracy theories for which they admitted to not having evidence to support as they sought to advance the political goals of their client.

As with every other defendant in the Georgia case, Mr Eastman faces the prospect of a mandatory prison sentence should he be convicted on the most serious felony charge, the RICO violation.

Fulton County district attorney Fani Willis has described Mr Trump and his team’s efforts as a broad-based multi-state criminal conspiracy to overturn the election; key evidence for her prosecution includes a phone call during which Mr Trump pushed state election officials to conjure more than 11,000 votes to add to his total and push him past the number received by Joe Biden, according to a recording.

Mr Eastman himself was behind many of the legal theories developed by the Trump team to support their efforts and in particular was central to the effort to convince Vice President Mike Pence to interfere with the election certification on January 6, which Mr Pence refused to do citing its illegality.

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