John Eastman: A key figure behind Trump’s coup plans

Status: 06/24/2022 1:27 p.m

The hearings on the storming of the Capitol are revealing who gave President Trump ideas on how to stay in power. Among them: a lawyer with deep contacts in arch-conservative circles.

By Silvia Stöber, tagesschau.de

Up to now, John Eastman has been a less conspicuous lawyer in the USA. In the House of Representatives investigative committee into the storming of the Capitol on January 6, 2021, it has now become known that the professor and dean of the law school at Chapman University in California wanted to make history. His goal: to keep Donald Trump in power, even though, according to vote counts, he lost the presidential election on November 3, 2020. To this end, he gave Trump ideas to challenge the result through legal means – also against the will of other Trump comrades-in-arms.

pressure on MPs

Eastman filed complaints against the election in the Supreme Court and was involved in contesting the result in the state of Pennsylvania. In Arizona he tried to influence. The speaker of the local House of Representatives, Republican Russell Bowers, reported to the committee that Eastman had asked him to follow Trump’s plan to create new voter lists and then have this clarified by the courts. But Bowers refused: he did not want to break his oath. And Trump’s people have not presented any evidence of alleged election fraud.

Eastman also communicated with conservative activist Virginia Thomas, according to emails recently received by the committee. She, too, wanted to influence lawmakers in Arizona to annul Biden’s victory for fraud and to draw up a “clean list of electors”. Her husband, Clarence Thomas, was the only Supreme Court justice who voted against allowing the investigative committee to see Trump records held by the National Archives Administration as of Jan. 6. According to US media, Eastman once worked as clerk to Clarence Thomas on the Supreme Court.

“Lost your mind?”

Eastman also offered the idea that Vice President Mike Pence could invalidate multi-state election results and confirm Trump in office on Jan. 6 in Congress. Faced with this plan, Eric Herschmann, another of Trump’s legal advisers, asked Eastman if he had “lost his mind” and wanted to “void the votes of 78 million people in the country.” This emerges from a recording that was played in the committee.

Retired federal judge Michael Luttig advised Pence that his role in confirming state election results this Jan. 6 was purely ceremonial. Eastman’s plan was “wrong in every respect”. Since Pence agreed with this view and rejected the claim of Trump and Eastmanthe invaders in the Capitol also hunted him, incited by Trump.

Speaker at the ultra-conservative “World Congress of Families”

At first glance, Eastman’s professional career does not suggest that at the age of 62 he could call for breaking the law. He received his doctorate from Chicago Law School, has worked for several federal courts and was admitted to the Supreme Court. As a professor in California, he taught constitutional law. Politically, he attracted attention insofar as he once ran for the Republicans and published right-wing conservative articles on legal topics.

In addition, however, he is the head of the “National Organization for Marriage”, which, according to its own statements, works for the “protection of marriage” and thus against same-sex marriage. Her goal is to network initiatives in the individual states. Founded in 2007, the organization has been criticized for its anti-LGBTQ+ stance, along with a lack of disclosures about funding and ties to religious organizations.

Co-founder of the organization is Brian S. Brown, who is also President of the US-based organization “World Congress of Families”. This was founded in the 1990s by Americans and Russians who campaigned for the “traditional family system”, against birth control and LGBTQ+ rights. Businessmen Konstantin Malofeyev and Vladimir Yakunin counted, both close to the Kremlin and working to spread the Russian Orthodox faith around the world.

Listed as speaker at the “World Congress of Families” 2019 in Verona: US attorney John Eastman.

Image: Screenshot

Both Brown and Eastman are listed as speakers for the last meeting of the “World Congress of Families” before the Corona pandemic in Verona in 2019. There are also people like Italy’s ex-Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, who is being investigated for possible party donations from Russia, among other things. Also on the list of speakers is the pro-Russian politician Igor Dodon, then President of Moldova, who has since been accused of corruption.

The event was sponsored by the anti-LGBTQ+ and anti-feminist organization CitizenGo. Its board of trustees included Alexej Komov, business partner of Malofeev, who was sanctioned in the USA. Komov’s name was removed from the website after the start of the war in Ukraine in February. There are also Italian politicians Luca Volonte, who has been convicted of corruption, and Brown. Brown and Eastman’s National Organization for Marriage is also listed as a sponsor of the Verona Convention.

Appearances on Fox News

Eastman was introduced to a larger audience with appearances on the US broadcaster FoxNews known, where he sharply criticized the investigation into a possible influence of Russia on the presidential election in 2016.

In 2019, he accused Kamala Harris of not being American. Harris was running for vice president alongside Joe Biden. This is reminiscent of the false claim that Barack Obama was not born in the US, which Trump liked to use against his predecessor. Trump then praised Eastman as a “very qualified, very talented lawyer” and invited him to the White House.

The fact that he supported Trump’s plans to remain in the presidency after he was voted out of office now became his undoing. He has already lost his professorship. Trump refused him the pardon he asked for in an email to Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani, which is available to the investigative committee. He faces criminal prosecution. Meanwhile he is trying to hinder the work of the committee of inquiry by delaying the release of documents.

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