John Eastman — an attorney and Trump ally who was the architect behind one of the schemes to help in former President’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election — is asking a California judge to postpone the ongoing disbarment proceedings against him, saying he’s concerned that he’ll soon be criminally charged by special counsel Jack Smith.
“[R]ecent developments in the investigation have renewed and intensified [Eastman’s] concerns that the federal government might bring charges against him,” Eastman attorneys Randall Miller and Zachary Mayer wrote in a court document filed on Aug. 4.
Being identified by journalists as an unnamed co-conspirator in the latest Trump indictment may have Eastman spooked. The lawyer’s legal team said if the Department of Justice files charges then Eastman might decide to assert his Fifth Amendment rights — which would allow him to refuse testimony that might be used against him — during his disbarment proceedings. But, the lawyers argue, invoking the Fifth Amendment in the disbarment proceedings would muddy Eastman’s ability to defend his law license.
“[Eastman] requests that the Court exercise its discretion to stay the State Bar’s disciplinary proceeding against him pending resolution of a parallel criminal investigation being conducted by Special Counsel Jack Smith and any trial or other proceedings that may result from that investigation,” the lawyers wrote.
The request comes months after the State Bar of California brought 11 professional charges against Eastman for alleged violations of professional rules and ethics as part of his effort to stop the certification of the 2020 election, arguing that he knowingly and willfully pushed false and outlandish allegations of voter fraud and promoted an “unlawful” scheme to overturn the election result.
The bar’s discipline trial began in June with the state bar saying that Eastman should lose his law license due to his conduct. During the hearing, Eastman gave lengthy testimony without asserting his Fifth Amendment rights. But after days of testimonies, the hearing was postponed to late August for running longer than the initially anticipated two weeks.
Now, Eastman is asking that the proceedings be postponed again until Smith’s Jan. 6 case against Trump, where the former President — so far — is the only defendant, is resolved.
Despite Trump being the only defendant, reporters have identified Eastman in the indictment as “co-conspirator 2,” an unnamed person who played a significant role in spreading false claims around election fraud and helped Trump pressure then-Vice President Mike Pence to stop the electoral count.
“The indictment heightens the potential for [Eastman] to be charged as a criminal defendant,” Eastman’s attorneys wrote. “When there are parallel criminal and civil proceedings, the defendant faces the difficult choice of asserting his Fifth Amendment right at the risk of losing a non-criminal trial (here, a disciplinary proceeding), or waiving his constitutional right against self-incrimination. Courts have recognized the need to stay civil proceedings to avoid prejudicing the defendant’s rights.”
Read the court filing here: