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March 28, 2022 11:11 AM UTC

Ruling Places Eastman, Trump At Center of Criminal Coup Plot

  • by: Colorado Pols
Former CU visiting professor John Eastman, CU Regent/GOP gubernatorial candidate Heidi Ganahl.

Politico reporting today on a bombshell federal court decision against former University of Colorado Visiting Scholar in Conservative Thought and Policy John Eastman, who was seeking to keep concealed over 100 emails sought by the Select Committee investigating the events leading up to the violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021:

A federal judge ruled Monday that President Donald Trump “more likely than not” attempted to illegally obstruct Congress as part of a criminal conspiracy when he tried to subvert the 2020 election on Jan. 6, 2021.

U.S. District Court Judge David Carter made the determination in a ruling that ordered 101 sensitive emails from Trump ally John Eastman be turned over to the House’s Jan. 6 select committee. Eastman used the email account of his former employer, Chapman University, to discuss political and legal strategy related to efforts to overturn the 2020 election…

The remarkable ruling may be the first in history in which a federal judge determined a president, while in office, appeared to commit a crime. The decision has no direct role in whether Trump will be charged criminally but could increase pressure on the Justice Department and its chief, Attorney General Merrick Garland, to conduct an aggressive investigation that could lead to such charges.

Insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, January 6th 2021.

Today’s ruling, which Eastman does have the option to appeal all the way to the Supreme Court, flatly rejects the assertion of attorney-client privilege over Eastman’s communications with members of Trump’s administration and legal team on the grounds that Eastman and President Donald Trump were knowingly conspiring to commit a criminal act. As we noted when it was first reported earlier this month, Eastman very candidly admitted that he was asking for Vice President Mike Pence to commit “minor” violations of federal law in order to carry out the plan:

There is strong circumstantial evidence to show that there was likely an agreement between President Trump and Dr. Eastman to enact the plan articulated in Dr. Eastman’s memo. In the days leading up to January 6, Dr. Eastman and President Trump had two meetings with high-ranking officials to advance the plan. On January 4, President Trump and Dr. Eastman hosted a meeting in the Oval Office to persuade Vice President Pence to carry out the plan. The next day, President Trump sent Dr. Eastman to continue discussions with the Vice President’s staff, in which Vice President Pence’s counsel perceived Dr. Eastman as the President’s representative…

The evidence also demonstrates that Dr. Eastman likely knew that the plan was unlawful. Dr. Eastman heard from numerous mentors and like-minded colleagues that his plan had no basis in history or precedent. Fourth Circuit Judge Luttig, for whom Dr. Eastman clerked, publicly stated that the plan’s analysis was “incorrect at every turn.” Vice President Pence’s legal counsel spent hours refuting each part of the plan to Dr. Eastman, including noting there had never been a departure from the Electoral Count Act and that not “a single one of [the] Framers would agree with [his] position.”

Dr. Eastman himself repeatedly recognized that his plan had no legal support. In his discussion with the Vice President’s counsel, Dr. Eastman “acknowledged” the “100 percent consistent historical practice since the time of the Founding” that the Vice President did not have the authority to act as the memo proposed. More importantly, Dr. Eastman admitted more than once that “his proposal violate[d] several provisions of statutory law,” including explicitly characterizing the plan as “one more relatively minor violation” of the Electoral Count Act… [Pols emphasis]

Based on the evidence, the Court finds that it is more likely than not that President Trump and Dr. Eastman dishonestly conspired to obstruct the Joint Session of Congress on January 6, 2021.

Judge David Carter’s 44-page ruling can be summarized in one sentence: President Trump and CU Professor John Eastman knew they were plotting a crime, therefore Eastman cannot claim attorney-client privilege over his communications on the matter. While this ruling does not have the immediate effect of an indictment it’s very bad news for both Eastman and Trump, and increases the possibility of an investigation into their personal role in a criminal conspiracy to overturn the election.

Although there are plenty of other co-conspirators, the singular importance of Eastman in Trump’s plot in the days leading up to January 6th has elevated him in importance over Trump’s other attorneys like Rudy Giuliani and Colorado’s coupspirator understudy Jenna Ellis. It’s increasingly evident that Eastman was the mastermind of Trump’s last-ditch plot to flip the results on January 6th. Those are the hopes that drove hundreds of Trump supporters at Trump and Eastman’s behest to march to the Capitol that morning. The rest of the story we know from images of violence seared into our collective memory.

At the same time Eastman was authoring the alleged criminal conspiracy (it’s time to start calling this what it is) to overturn the 2020 presidential elections, Eastman was on the payroll of the University of Colorado as the school’s Visiting Scholar in Conservative Thought and Policy for the 2021-21 academic year. Before his role in the coup plot became an issue, Eastman had already caused considerable controversy with a widely-condemned opinion piece suggesting Kamala Harris might not have the citizenship qualifications to serve. It was after that controversy, but before January 6th, that GOP gubernatorial candidate and CU Regent Heidi Ganahl gushed about the “fantastic” Eastman “riling some folks up” after coming to campus. Since launching her campaign for governor, Ganahl has awkwardly evaded what she calls “divisive questions” about the 2020 elections, while privately assuring Republican grassroots voters she cares about everything they care about when pressed about the “Big Lie.”

Ganahl does not want to answer the hard questions raised by Eastman’s singular role next to Trump himself in the alleged criminal conspiracy to overturn the election, least not before the primary where the slightest concession to the factual record could cost her irreplaceable support. And assuming Ganahl prevails in the Republican primary for governor, anything she says in Eastman’s defense now will be an albatross around her neck later.

Unfortunately for Ganahl, Eastman has become too big a story to ignore. Even if Ganahl has no good answers, the time has come for Ganahl to answer for her long support for Eastman. There’s no getting to November without it happening.


5 thoughts on “Ruling Places Eastman, Trump At Center of Criminal Coup Plot

  1. I so want to see real criminal consequences for the Coup Crew, including Trump, Eastman, Giuliani, Miller, Bannon, and all the rest.

    Jail time is probably the only thing that will prevent other attempts. Any other  consequence is just more opportunity to grift and mooch off the ignorant baseheads.

    If incarceration becomes a real possibility for  the Former Guy, suddenly the “healthiest  president in history” will start pleading  age, long Covid symptoms, progressive dementia- anything to avoid being locked up. 

  2. A tidbit from Daily Kos, linking to reporting primarily from Washington Post.

    [Senator Ted] Cruz, it turns out, is a longtime friend of John Eastman, the right-wing lawyer who pushed the idea that Mike Pence could refuse to certify the election. The two clerked together for then-U.S. Appeals Court Judge Michael Luttig—who Cruz has described as being “like a father to me”—and remained friends, to whatever extent Cruz has friends. Eastman’s plan for Pence and Cruz’s plan for the Senate worked together, with Eastman telling Pence he had the right to refuse to certify and Cruz offering up a proposal for senators to object to certifying state election results in favor of a 10-day delay for an “audit”—in translation, a chance for Republican state legislatures to find excuses to reject the will of the voters and throw their states behind Trump.

    But did the two communicate (and thus "conspire")?  Washington Post says

    Eastman, asked in an inquiry by a lawyer for the Jan. 6 committee whether he had “any communication with Senator Ted Cruz regarding efforts to change the outcome of the 2020 election,” declined to answer by invoking his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. Eastman and his lawyer, Charles Burnham, declined a request for comment.

    1. Didn't Trump once mock people invoking the 5th Amendment.  If Cruz is involved then he should have recused himself from voting on Trumps 2nd impeachment.  Shady dealings by the self-appointed moral arbitrators.

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