Fox News published a piece this Tuesday afternoon reporting that more than 100 of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’ former clerks had signed onto a letter defending the justice’s “integrity” and “independence.” The signatories argued that recent media reports on him unethically accepting luxurious gifts from billionaire donors and people with business before the high court are simply all “part of larger attack on the Court” and its “legitimacy.”
High profile circuit court judges like David Stras of the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals, Jim Ho of the 5th Circuit and Allison Rushing of the 4th (all Trump appointees) count themselves among the 112 signees.
And so does John Eastman.
Why Eastman, now officially criminally indicted in Georgia for his efforts to help overturn the election there, would think adding his name to the list of Thomas defenders would somehow not undermine the group’s credibility is unclear. But it’s just the latest example of the former Trump lawyer asserting himself into the news cycle during a time when it would behoove him to keep quiet.
Tonight, for example, Eastman apparently plans to make an appearance on Fox News during Laura Ingraham’s show. What he intends to discuss is anyone’s guess, but he hasn’t shied away from giving interviews on matters directly relevant to his alleged crime-ing in recent weeks. Even after being identified as a co-conspirator in Special Counsel Jack Smith’s indictment in the Jan. 6 case, Eastman sat for an interview with Tom Klingenstein, the Chairman of the Trumpite Claremont Institute. During the conversation, he reiterated and justified the legal arguments he pushed around Jan. 6 and made a broader rhetorical argument about the need to overthrow governments.
It’s hard to imagine a lawyer advising him to sit for this interview, especially in light of the Fulton County indictment, in which he is charged with nine counts in Fani Willis’ sprawling racketeering case. In fact, his own lawyers have already been trying to protect him against self-incrimination.
In requesting that California State Bar officials delay proceedings out of concern that their client may soon be indicted after he was identified as “co-conspirator 2” in Smith’s indictment, Eastman’s lawyers said it wouldn’t be a good idea for Eastman to testify. If he were indicted, his lawyers argued, Eastman would have to assert the Fifth Amendment in future disbarment proceedings or waive his constitutional right to not self-incriminate.
Here’s what they wrote in the initial letter to state bar authorities in California:
“The indictment heightens the potential for [Eastman] to be charged as a criminal defendant,” Eastman’s attorneys wrote last week. “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.”
In response, the California State Bar argued to the disciplinary judge overseeing the matter that Eastman’s concerns about self-incrimination were entirely unfounded because he keeps giving public interviews. Bar officials specifically pointed to the Klingenstein interview as an example of how non-serious his attorneys’ argument was. From my piece earlier this month:
“Needless to say, during these interviews, respondent never asserted the Fifth Amendment,” Duncan Carling, the attorney leading the disbarment proceedings, wrote after outlining Eastman’s recent remarks, in which he continues to assert the 2020 election was stolen.
“Respondent’s public statements while the State Bar case has been pending are
relevant for two reasons. First, respondent’s willingness to speak at length in public about his conduct, when he knows he faces possible criminal charges related to this conduct, indicates that he is not concerned about incriminating himself by speaking about these topics, and his motion for abatement is intended solely to delay the proceedings,” Carling continued. “Second, respondent’s continuing misrepresentations regarding voter fraud and a ‘stolen’ election indicate that the public interest would be served by timely resolution of his State Bar disciplinary case.”
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