California authorities oppose John Eastman’s bid to delay disbarment proceedings

California authorities seeking the disbarment of attorney John Eastman — an architect of Donald Trump’s last-gasp effort to subvert the 2020 presidential election — say Trump’s recent indictment is no basis to delay their efforts.

Eastman, whose disbarment trial began in June but was recessed until late August, asked last week to indefinitely postpone the proceedings — perhaps for years — while the criminal case against Trump is pending. That’s because the indictment references Eastman, without naming him, as “co-conspirator 2,” one of six alleged accomplices. His attorneys say that reference heightens the likelihood that he will face indictment and therefore need to assert his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination.

But Duncan Carling, the attorney leading the effort to strip Eastman’s law license, said the push for delay is unjustified. Eastman, he said, has been aware of his criminal exposure for years — so much so that he asserted his Fifth Amendment rights in appearances before the House Jan. 6 select committee and Fulton County prosecutors investigating the same matters.

“This is nothing more than an opportunistic attempt to delay the decision in respondent’s State Bar case, as his situation with regard to potential criminal charges is the same today as when the trial started,” Carling wrote in a 17-page filing.

It’s the latest example of tension between several tracks of accountability facing Trump and his allies for the effort to keep Trump in power despite losing the election to Joe Biden. All of the alleged co-conspirators identified in Smith’s indictment are attorneys, and they’ve all faced disciplinary proceedings in their respective states, some of which have lingered even as the criminal investigation neared its charging phase.

Rudy Giuliani, identified as “co-conspirator 1,” recently faced a disbarment recommendation from a disciplinary panel in Washington, D.C. Attorney Sidney Powell, identified as “co-conspirator 3,” has been the subject of sanctions in Michigan for her work on post-election litigation there. Jeff Clark, a former Justice Department attorney identified as “co-conspirator 4,” is battling D.C. authorities to delay his own proceedings. And Ken Chesebro, identified as “co-conspirator 5,” has faced an ethics complaint in New York.

Bar authorities in California say Eastman has spoken freely in recent interviews about his role in helping Trump attempt to subvert the election and continued to push false claims about election fraud, showing that he’s unconcerned about enhancing his criminal exposure by speaking. In addition, they say he’s already testified for several hours during the postponed trial about his efforts to aid Trump in 2020.

Eastman closely considered the need to postpone or “abate” his disbarment proceedings in February, they noted, when the trial was first being scheduled, and he ultimately opted against it. Nothing about his decision has changed materially, they say. The Trump indictment does not indicate that charges against Eastman are likely or imminent, they added.

“[Eastman] decided not to move for abatement and to proceed with the trial, with full knowledge of the pending investigations by the Department of Justice and the Georgia grand jury,” Carling wrote.

“Respondent remains in essentially the same position now as when he made these original choices — criminal charges against him remain a possibility, but he has not been charged and whether he will be charged and the time frame for when any criminal charges may be filed against him remain entirely speculative,” he continued. “Declining to abate a trial that respondent elected to begin under similar circumstances will cause respondent no substantial prejudice.”

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