Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) and AG Sean Reyes (R-UT), Meet Disbarred Attorney John Eastman*

14 min readApr 7, 2024


Oh, I’m Sorry . . . I See You’ve Already Met

Photo by Alex Wolowiecki on Unsplash

John Eastman’s professional misconduct, which forms the basis for the California State Bar’s recommendation that he be disbarred, overlaps in material ways the disgracefully unethical and potentially criminal efforts of Utah’s Senator Mike Lee, an attorney, and its Attorney General Sean Reyes to overturn the 2020 presidential election. I discuss that overlap below.

In The Matter of John Charles Eastman, the former Trump lawyer was charged with eleven counts of professional misconduct before the State Bar of California, California’s professional licensing authority for lawyers. On March 27, 2024, California’s State Bar Court (“State Bar Court”) issued a 128-page ruling, concluding that the California Office of Professional Conduct had proven ten of the eleven counts of professional misconduct against Eastman by clear and convincing evidence — “leav[ing] no substantial doubt and . . . sufficiently strong to command the unhesitating assent of every reasonable mind.”

The State Bar Court “recommended that John Charles Eastman . . . be disbarred from the practice of law in California and that his name be stricken from the roll of attorneys.” Eastman Disbarment Ruling at 1–2 & n.2, 128.

Eastman is Unindicted Coconspirator №2 in Special Counsel Jack Smith’s Indictment of Trump (“Jan. 6 Indictment”) for his efforts to overturn the 2020 election. As Coconspirator №2, Eastman allegedly “devised and attempted to implement a strategy to leverage the Vice President’s ceremonial role overseeing the certification proceeding to obstruct the certification of the presidential election.” The State Bar Court’s ruling details Eastman’s misconduct as summarized in the Jan. 6 Indictment — and much more.

Eastman, who is also charged in nine counts in the Fulton County, Georgia RICO case, is in good company with his Jan. 6 Unindicted Coconspirator lawyers:

· Unindicted Coconspirator №1 Rudy Giuliani is under RICO indictment in Georgia for his role in attempting to undermine the results of that state’s 2020 presidential election; Mr. Giuliani’s bar licenses are suspended in New York and Washington D.C. with recommendations for disbarment; he is liable in defamation to Georgians Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss for $148 million, which includes $75 million in punitive damages, after falsely accusing them of election fraud; he recently filed for bankruptcy.

· Unindicted Coconspirator №3 Jeffrey Clark is under RICO indictment in Georgia for his role in attempting to undermine the results of that state’s 2020 presidential election; he is subject to disbarment proceedings in Washington D.C. in which he repeatedly invoked his right to remain silent under the Fifth Amendment instead of answering questions. [While the fact finder is prohibited from drawing an adverse inference against a criminal defendant for exercising his Fifth Amendment rights, civil and administrative courts are not so bound.]

· Unindicted Coconspirator №4 Kenneth Chesebro pleaded guilty to felony conspiracy in Georgia for his role in attempting to undermine the results of that state’s 2020 presidential election; Chesebro is identified as a prosecution witness in all pending criminal cases against fake electors in the scheme Eastman masterminded, discussed below. Status of Criminal Prosecutions of Fake Electors.

· Unindicted Coconspirator №5 “Kraken lawyer” Sidney Powell pleaded guilty in Georgia for her role in attempting to undermine the results of that state’s 2020 presidential election; she is subject to various disciplinary claims; and Powell is a defendant in billion-dollar defamation lawsuits.

Watercolor, Richard J Van Wagoner, Courtesy of Van Wagoner Family Trust**

Eastman’s eleven counts of professional misconduct before the California Bar rose “from certain activities surrounding his representation of the former president Donald J. Trump and the 2020 presidential election. Eastman is charged with one count of failing to support the Constitution and laws of the United States; two counts of seeking to mislead a court; six counts of moral turpitude by making various misrepresentations; and two additional counts of moral turpitude.” Eastman Disbarment Ruling at 1. The State Bar Court explained:

“[T]his disciplinary proceeding boils down to an analysis of whether . . . Eastman, in his role as the attorney for then-President Donald Trump and his re-election campaign, acted dishonestly in his comments and advice given regarding the issue of whether then-Vice President Mike Pence had authority to unilaterally reject certain states’ electors and/or delay or recess the electoral count during the Joint Session of congress on January 6, 2021, and the manner in which he pursued legal action aimed at obstructing the lawful electoral process.”

Eastman Disbarment Ruling at 4–5.

Texas v. Pennsylvania

The State Bar Court began its analysis by addressing and dismantling the December 7, 2020, lawsuit Texas attorney general Ken Paxton filed against swing states Georgia, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania in the United States Supreme Court (Texas v. Pennsylvania). Eastman Disbarment Ruling at 9–23. The lawsuit, which Eastman had carefully studied and with which he was intimately familiar, was filled with false representations and unsupported allegations.

On December 9, 2020, two days before the United States Supreme Court rejected the lawsuit, Eastman filed a motion to intervene in Texas v. Pennsylvania on behalf of Trump. In his motion, Eastman added his own unsupported spin in which he “attempted to finesse a discussion about fraud” even though, as he privately confided to his friend Cleta Mitchell, he “knew . . . there was no actual evidence of outcome-determinative fraud in the 2020 presidential election in any of the Defendant States.” Eastman Disbarment Ruling at 22–23.

Cleta Mitchell, who plotted with Ginni Thomas, wife of Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas, to keep Trump in power and claimed dead people had voted, “enlisted John Eastman . . . who crafted [the] specious legal theories claiming Vice President Mike Pence could keep Mr. Trump in power.” See Lawyer Who Plotted to Overturn Trump Loss Recruits Election Deniers to Watch Over the Vote. Ms. Mitchell was also on Trump’s infamous call to get Raffensperger to find those 11,870 votes. Cleta Mitchell, a key figure in president’s phone call, was an early backer of Trump’s election fraud claims.

The State Bar Court concluded that Eastman was in violation of the California code of ethics by “adopting the false and misleading allegations and contentions in the [Texas v. Pennsylvania] Complaint with the intent to mislead the Supreme Court.” Eastman Disbarment Ruling at 87.

A number of state attorneys general joined the lawsuit, thereby “adopting false and misleading allegations and contentions in the [Texas v. Pennsylvania] Complaint with the intent to mislead the Supreme Court.” Utah’s attorney general was among them.

Watercolor, Richard J Van Wagoner, Courtesy of Van Wagoner Family Trust**

Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes

Sean Reyes, Utah’s attorney general, affixed his name and reputation to the same Texas v. Pennsylvania complaint in his effort to advance the Big Lie. Doing so, as with Eastman, he made material misrepresentations of fact, withheld information from the Supreme Court, and sought to mislead the High Court in a complaint that lacked a factual or legal basis. His, like Eastman’s, was a blatant attempt to subvert constitutional and democratic principles on which democracy has survived in the United States since its founding; sow division among the citizens of the United States; undermine the credibility and reliability of United States institutions; create doubt about the outcome of the 2020 presidential election; and foment the rising undercurrent of civil unrest, violence, and domestic terror by a growing faction of voters whose preferred candidate lost by significant margins. It worked.

The 65 Project filed an Ethics Complaint Against Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes and similar complaints against 14 other state attorneys general in their respective state bar associations. The 13-page complaint against Reyes is worth the time to read and includes the following:

“We write to request that the Office of Professional Conduct review the actions taken by Attorney General Sean Reyes, a member of the Utah State Bar, relating to a concerted effort to overturn the legitimate 2020 presidential election results. Although many attorneys participated in this scheme, Mr. Reyes played an important role — lending the legal profession’s credibility to the destructive cause and using public office to amplify false assertions and frivolous claims that lacked any basis in law or fact. Specifically, Mr. Reyes joined with other attorneys general and submitted a brief in support of the State of Texas’s Bill of Complaint in Texas v. Pennsylvania before the United States Supreme Court. The importance of so many attorneys general providing their support for the bogus effort cannot be overstated. . . .

“Then, after filing the amicus brief, Mr. Reyes sought to intervene in the matter and expressly joined and adopted by reference Texas’s Bill of Complaint, as well as that filed by John Eastman on behalf of Donald Trump. The Court summarily dismissed the effort and Texas’s Commission on Lawyer Discipline is pursuing disciplinary proceedings against Attorney General Ken Paxton for initiating that matter and resting Texas’s arguments on false statements and unsupportable legal claims. . . .

“Mr. Reyes chose to offer his professional license and public trust to Mr. Trump’s arsenal during the latter’s assault on our democracy. He cannot be shielded from the consequences of that decision simply because he holds high public office.”

(Emphasis added.)

We’re waiting.

Watercolor, Richard J Van Wagoner, Courtesy of Van Wagoner Family Trust**

Eastman’s Specious Theories Helped Form the Basis for the Jan. 6 Insurrection

The State Bar Court painstakingly analyzed Eastman’s specious workarounds of the Constitution and the Electoral Count Act. Eastman Disbarment Ruling at 39–75. Eastman’s tortured theories included the claim that the vice president could refuse to count the electoral votes from seven swing states Trump had lost (Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin) which would give Trump 232 electoral votes to President Biden’s 222. If the Democrats objected because 270 electoral votes were necessary, the election would be sent to the House of Representatives with each state delegation having a single vote. Trump would be declared the winner because Republicans held a slight edge. Tortured theories.

Eastman also advocated that the vice president’s authority to decide the winner was a “non-justiciable political question, meaning Pence [as president of the senate] could just decide and no court would have jurisdiction to rule on the issue.” Eastman, of course, felt the need to keep the issue out of the courts because “they would rule that the theory was unlawful.” Eastman also suggested if Pence didn’t have the stomach for it, he could recuse himself from presiding over the joint session of Congress on January 6, and let the senate president pro tempore — Senator Chuck Grassley who was all in — run the show. Regardless, Eastman was arguing Pence or Grassley should violate the Electoral Count Act. Tortured theories.

This is where his alternate slate of electors theory came in. Eastman, Giuliani, and Trump, among others, were working to replace the slates of certified electors for President Biden in certain states. Eastman and others pressured state legislators “to name their own electors or to certify the campaign’s fake electors” — there were seven fake slates, Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. If the president of the senate or senate president pro tempore recognized the alternate slates of electors, the result would be to throw out the electoral votes from those states thereby reducing Biden’s count below Trump’s or delay certifying Biden as the winner of the 2020 election and buy more time. Tortured theories.

Eastman concluded that Trump could remain in office only if the senate president determined which electoral votes were valid or remanded the electoral votes back to the state legislatures for a do-over. Eastman knew there were no valid alternate slates of electors but advised Pence and Trump that the existence of the dual slates “demonstrates the uncertainty of either. This should be enough.” In other words, they could induce Republican leadership in the seven swing states Trump had lost to create fake slates of electors and then, in a self-fulfilling prophesy, claim the outcome in those states was unclear due to the dueling slates. Tortured theories.

In the end, Eastman claimed two viable options existed: Pence or someone acting in his stead could reject the certified electors submitted by the seven states; or he could suspend the joint session and send the electoral votes back to the states for reconsideration. “Eastman later conceded that both actions were based on the same underlying legal theory of the Vice President’s power.” He “also admitted — during [a] meeting with the President and Vice President — that his proposal violated the Electoral Count Act. Moreover, Eastman eventually acknowledged that the concept of the Vice President unilaterally rejecting electors was not supported by precedent and that the Supreme Court would never endorse it.” Tortured theories.

In addition, there were no legitimate “competing” slates of electors. As noted, Eastman and others had “manufactured the conditions they needed in order to claim that the election result was ‘disputed’ by convening fake electors who sent fake documents to Washington before January 6th. And their efforts to convince State legislatures to certify Trump electors had failed.” Tortured theories. See Eastman Disbarment Ruling at 43 (detailing Eastman’s advice for how Pence should proceed on January 6 in violation of the Electoral Count Act).

The State Bar Court concluded, “Eastman’s claim that there were dual slates of electors was knowingly false and made with the intent to deceive, given that Eastman knew the purported trump electors lacked proper certification and official approval mandated by law.” Eastman Disbarment Ruling at 90.

Eric Herschmann, an attorney working for Trump at the time, characterized part of his conversation with Eastman:

“You’re saying you believe the Vice President, acting as President of the Senate, can be the sole decisionmaker as to, under your theory, who becomes next President of the United States? And he said, yes. And I said, are you out of your fucking mind? . . . You’re going to turn around and tell 78 million people in the country that your theory is, this is how you’re going to invalidate their votes because you think the election was stolen? I said, they’re not going to tolerate that. I said, you’re going to cause riots in the streets. And he said words to the effect of there’s been violence in this history of our country to protect the democracy or to protect the [R]epublic.”

Watercolor, Richard J Van Wagoner, Courtesy of Van Wagoner Family Trust**

Utah Senator Mike Lee’s 14-Hour Days

Who were those “others” involved in pressuring legislatures in the swing states that went for Biden to create new sets of electors to give the vice president or someone acting on his behalf an excuse not to count the certified electors from those states or to send the question back to those states for new certification?

Lee’s opponent in the last election, Evan McMullan, said:

“Senator Lee, that was the most egregious betrayal of our nation’s Constitution in its history by a U.S. senator, I believe, and it will be your legacy. . . . You were there to stand up for our Congress and for our Constitution, but when the barbarians were at the gate, you were happy to let them in.”

What was McMullan referencing?

He was addressing Lee’s evolving efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election with any screwball theory, finally landing on John Eastman’s plan, as revealed in contemporaneous text exchanges between the senator and Trump’s chief of staff:

November 7, 2020

Lee to Meadows: “I want to offer words of encouragement to the president . . . . This doesn’t have to come down to a binary choice between (1) an immediate concession, and (2) a destruction of the credibility of the election process.

Lee to Meadows: “Sydney Powell is saying that she needs to get in to see the president, but she’s being kept away from him. Apparently, she has a strategy to keep things alive and put several states back in play. Can you help her get in?”

Lee to Meadows: “It was at the president’s request that Sydney has been working on a strategy and has been trying to get in to see him. But she’s being kept out.”

November 9, 2020

Lee to Meadows: “We had steering executive meeting at CPI tonight, with Sidney Powell as our guest speaker. My purpose in having the meeting was to socialize with Republican senators the fact that POTUS needs to pursue his legal remedies. You have in us a group of ready and loyal advocates who will go to bat for him, but I fear this could prove short-lived unless you hire the right legal team and set them loose immediately.

Lee to Meadows: “Sidney told us that the campaign lawyers who I do not know are not focused on this and are obstructing progress. I have no way of verifying or refuting that on my own, but I’ve found her to be a straight shooter. In any event, these actions need to be filed and announced in the next 48 hours or the public relations momentum we need to have behind it will start to dissipate.”

November 20, 2020

Lee to Meadows: “Please give me something to work with. I just need to know what I should be saying.

November 22, 2020

Lee to Meadows: “Please tell me what I should be saying.

November 23, 2020

Lee to Meadows: “John Eastman has some really interesting research on this. The good news is is that Eastman is proposing an approach that unlike what Sidney Powell has proposed could be examined very quickly.

December 8, 2020

Lee to Meadows: “If a very small handful of states were to have their legislatures appoint alternative slates of delegates, there could be a path.

Meadows to Lee: “I am working on that as of yesterday.

December 16, 2020

Lee to Meadows: “Also, if you want senators to object, we need to hear from you on that ideally getting some guidance on what arguments to raise.”

January 3, 2021

Lee to Meadows: “Everything changes, of course, if the swing states submit competing slates of electors pursuant to state law.

Lee to Meadows: “. . . We simply have no authority to reject a state’s certified electoral votes in the absence of a dueling slates, with the Trump slate coming from a state legislative determination.

January 4, 2021

Lee to Meadows: “I’ve been spending 14 hours a day for the last week trying to unravel this for him. . . .

Mike Lee’s Texts with Mark Meadows (emphasis added).

We’re waiting.

R.VanWagoner publishes.

*My brother the very talented fiction writer and novelist, Robert Hodgson Van Wagoner, deserves considerable credit for offering both substantive and technical suggestions to Rob’s second novel, a beautifully written suspense drama that takes place in Utah, Wyoming, and Norway, dropped on November 17, 2020. Available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Apple Bookstore and your favorite local bookshop, this novel, The Contortionists, which Rob himself narrates for the audio version, is a psychological page-turner about a missing child in a predominantly Mormon community. I have read the novel and listened to the audio version twice. It is a literary masterpiece. The Contortionists is not, however, for the faint of heart.

**Richard J Van Wagoner is my father. His list of honors, awards, and professional associations is extensive. He was Professor Emeritus (Painting and Drawing), Weber State University, having served three Appointments as Chair of the Department of Visual Arts there. He guest-lectured and instructed at many universities and juried numerous shows and exhibitions. He was invited to submit his work as part of many shows and exhibitions, and his work was exhibited in many traveling shows domestically and internationally. My daughter Angela Van Wagoner, a professional photographer, photographed more than 500 pieces of my father’s work. The photographs of my father’s art reproduced in are hers.




Exercising my right not to remain silent. Criminal defense and First Amendment attorney.