At Disbarment Trial, a Trump Attorney, John Eastman, Is Accused of Pushing Election Fraud Claims From People Who Lacked ‘Basic Logical Reasoning’

A political scientist told the court there was ‘no indication’ of deceased people voting, but rather there was evidence of some voters having ‘unpleasant administrative experiences’ when casting their ballots either in-person or via mail.

AP/Jae C. Hong
Attorney John Eastman talks to reporters after a hearing at Los Angeles, June 20, 2023. AP/Jae C. Hong

President Trump’s legal adviser, John Eastman, is being sharply criticized during his disbarment hearing in California for pushing credulous claims of voter fraud in the aftermath of the 2020 election, including relying on witnesses who lacked “basic logical reasoning.” Denunciations on Friday came from a Stanford University political scientist who has decades of experience in election processes.

The trial has seen a host of expert witnesses who picked apart the methodologies and witnesses Mr. Eastman used in the volley of legal filings he pushed in the hopes of demonstrating voter fraud and thus overturning the election. More such witnesses are expected as the trial grinds forward. 

Professor Justin Grimmer of prestigious Stanford University’s political science department, who has decades of experience as a statistician and elections expert, was called by the California bar’s lawyers in order to help debunk many of the affidavits Mr. Eastman filed in dozens of court cases he worked on in the wake of the last presidential election. 

Throughout the day, Mr. Grimmer was asked by the state bar lawyers to read several affidavits filed in states Mr. Eastman tried to contest after voting was completed and President Biden was declared the victor in 2020. 

In one affidavit filed in a Pennsylvania lawsuit seeking to block their electoral certification, so-called experts claimed that fraud could possibly be proven given that fewer mail-in ballots, in aggregate, were rejected in 2020 than in 2018. The document stated that as many as “2.6 million ballots” were affected by this reduced number of mail rejections. 

Mr. Grimmer quickly dismissed that accusation, saying it was attempting to “explain a counterfactual” by “comparing apples to oranges.” One reason fewer mail-in ballots were rejected, Mr. Grimmer stated, was because campaigns — both Democrat and Republican — had spent much more time and money in 2020 educating voters about how to properly fill out, postmark, and send their ballots via mail than they did in 2018 because of the ongoing Covid pandemic. 

Mr. Grimmer also noted that Mr. Eastman’s claim that “no-excuse mail voting” led to fraud was not based in reality. He pointed out that in 2019, the Republican-controlled Pennsylvania state legislature passed a measure known as Act 77, which legalized such a method of securely voting by mail, only for many of the same Republicans who voted for the bill to later claim that no-excuse mail voting is illegal. 

Most of the Friday hearing was taken up by a discussion of Mr. Trump’s lawsuit in Fulton County, Georgia, Trump v. Raffensperger, which sought to prove fraud via affidavits from so-called witnesses.

One affidavit came from a Georgia woman named Lisa Holst, who claimed — without firm evidence — that her deceased father had voted in the 2020 election. Mr. Eastman would later file that affidavit in court, which prosecutors argue is a sign Mr. Eastment was not acting with professionalism worthy of a California law licensee. 

Another Georgia woman, Sandy Rumpf, noticed on the secretary of state’s website that her late father’s voter registration status had been changed to “active” from “deceased” in 2020. She filed that assertion in an affidavit, which Mr. Eastman would attempt to use as proof of voter fraud in the Peach State. 

Mr. Grimmer, when asked to explain the affidavit, said that Ms. Rumpf made no explicit accusation of fraud, and her father’s registration status had been explained by the secretary of state’s office as a simple error when updating voter rolls. 

There was “no indication” of deceased people voting, Mr. Grimmer said, but rather there was evidence of those having “unpleasant administrative experiences” when voting either in-person or via mail, which Mr. Eastman erroneously — and intentionally, the state bar argues — understood as evidence of malfeasance. 

“In no affidavit did a single person say: ‘I saw someone vote illegally’ or ‘I have proof of election fraud,’” Mr. Grimmer told the state bar court. “It was people just having unpleasant experiences.”

Mr. Eastman’s so-called experts statisticians were lacking “basic logical reasoning” in making their claims, Mr. Grimmer asserted. One such example was a self-described expert who claimed in an affidavit that the difference between vote totals between President Biden in 2020 and Secretary Clinton in 2016 is some kind of indication of fraud.

Earlier in the disbarment trial, Mr. Eastman attempted to have an accountant named Joseph Fried testify on his behalf as an expert witness — a move that was rejected outright by the presiding judge, Yvette Roland. 

“I don’t see how Mr. Fried is qualified to be an expert,” the judge stated. “He has no experience in voting or election matters.” Mr. Fried’s experience, defense attorneys argued, was that he had written a book questioning the 2020 election results from his point of view as an accountant.

Beyond disbarment, Mr. Eastmen is also in the crosshairs of Special Counsel Jack Smith, who is investigating the January 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol. Mr. Eastman’s involvement with the campaign to overturn the election could lead to a criminal indictment from Mr. Smith and his team. 

Throughout the disbarment trial, the state bar’s attorneys have relied heavily on aides to Vice President Pence, who Mr. Eastman tried to convince that by dint of his position he had the constitutional authority to reject slates of electors sent to Congress for certification. 

One of Mr. Pence’s lawyers who was present at the Capitol on January 6, Greg Jacob, appeared in the state bar court at Los Angeles to describe his interactions with Mr. Eastman, which included watching the accused pressure the then-vice president to accept his legal theory that as president of the Senate he could ignore the official vote tallies. 

Mr. Eastman, for his defense, has relied on the argument that there are genuine constitutional debates about whether the vice presidency is vested with such a power.

The New York Sun

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