A former Donald Trump-linked attorney and one of the chief architects of a scheme to overturn the 2020 election has asked to postpone his disbarment hearings as he anticipates criminal charges connected to the former president’s latest indictment.
An 11-count complaint from the chief trial counsel of the State Bar of California alleges that John Eastman “engaged in a course of conduct to plan, promote, and assist” Mr Trump “in executing a strategy, unsupported by facts or law, to overturn the legitimate results” of the 2020 presidential election.
The former president has pleaded not guilty to three criminal conspiracies and obstruction of the certification of Joe Biden’s victory, outlined in an indictment that alleges a multi-state effort to obstruct the electoral count in states Mr Trump lost by replacing electors with so-called “alternates” loyal to him.
Mr Eastman is likely among the six unnamed co-conspirators listed in the indictment.
“[R]ecent developments in the investigation have renewed and intensified [Mr Eastman’s] concerns that the federal government might bring charges against him,” his attorneys wrote in a recent filing.
The filing refers to “numerous media outlets” speculating that Mr Eastman is one of the co-conspirators; he is likely “co-conspirator 2,” an attorney who “devised and attempted to implement a strategy to leverage [then-Vice President Mike Pence’s] ceremonial role overseeing the certification proceeding to obstruct the certification of the presidential election,” according to the indictment.
Attorneys for Mr Eastman argue that their client “faces the difficult choice of asserting his Fifth Amendment right” and refusing testimony if his disbarment proceedings are not postponed, which could potentially waive “his constitutional right against self-incrimination.”
The filing asks for a delay in the proceedings and, “depending on the outcome of the investigation, any possible resultant criminal trial”.
The 11-count complaint against Mr Eastman largely involves his false statements about election fraud and 2020 election results as well as his involvement in the so-called “fake electors” plot.
“Specific charges allege that Eastman made false and misleading statements regarding purported election fraud ... that contributed to provoking a crowd to assault and breach the Capitol to intimidate then-Vice President Pence and prevent the electoral count from proceeding,” according to a statement from the State Bar of California’s Chief Trial Counsel George Cardona.
Mr Eastman “knew, or was grossly negligent in not knowing, that there was no evidence upon which a reasonable attorney would rely of election fraud or illegality that could have affected the outcome of the election, and that there was no evidence upon which a reasonable attorney would rely that the election had been ’stolen’ by the Democratic Party,” the complaint states.
“[N]o reasonable attorney with expertise in constitutional or election law” would have argued that the vice president would be legally authorized to overturn election results, according to the complaint.
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