By Kate Brumback, The Associated Press
John Eastman, the conservative attorney with Colorado ties who pushed a plan to keep Donald Trump in power, turned himself in to authorities Tuesday on charges in the Georgia case alleging an illegal plot to overturn the former president’s 2020 election loss.
Eastman was booked at the Fulton County jail before being released by authorities. He’s expected to have an arraignment set in the coming weeks in the sprawling racketeering case.
He was indicted last week alongside Trump and 17 others, who are accused by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis of scheming to subvert the will of Georgia voters in a desperate bid to keep Joe Biden out of the White House.
Eastman said in a statement provided by his lawyers that he was surrendering Tuesday “to an indictment that should never have been brought.” He lambasted the indictment for targeting “attorneys for their zealous advocacy on behalf of their clients” and said each of the 19 defendants was entitled to rely on the advice of lawyers and past legal precedent to challenge the results of the election.
A former dean of Chapman University law school in Southern California, Eastman was a close adviser to Trump in the run-up to the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol by the Republican president’s supporters intent on halting the certification of Biden’s electoral victory. He wrote a memo laying out steps Vice President Mike Pence could take to interfere in the counting of electoral votes while presiding over Congress’ joint session on Jan. 6 in order to keep Trump in office.
Eastman served as a visiting conservative scholar at the University of Colorado Boulder during the 2020 election and afterward, when he tried to help Trump overturn the results. He has remained involved in Colorado politics.
Eastman is representing the Colorado GOP in a federal lawsuit the party brought challenging a state law letting unaffiliated voters cast ballots in partisan primaries. The lawsuit seeks to close the GOP’s primaries only to registered Republican voters.
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The Georgia indictment alleges that Eastman and others pushed to put in place a slate of “alternate” electors falsely certifying that Trump won and tried to pressure Pence into rejecting or delaying the counting of legitimate electoral votes for Biden, a Democrat.
Bail bondsman Scott Hall, who was accused of participating in a breach of election equipment in rural Coffee County, also turned himself in to the Fulton County Jail on Tuesday morning.
Trump’s bond has been set at $200,000, and he has said he will surrender to authorities in Fulton County on Thursday.
Two other defendants, former Justice Department lawyer Jeffrey Clark and former Georgia Republican Party chair David Shafer, have filed paperwork to transfer the case to federal court.
Lawyers for Clark argued in a court filing Monday that he was a high-ranking Justice Department official and the actions described in the indictment “relate directly to his work at the Justice Department as well as with the former President of the United States.” Shafer’s attorneys argued that his conduct “stems directly from his service as a Presidential Elector nominee.”
Former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows last week made similar arguments in a federal court filing, saying his actions were taken in service to his White House role.
Clark was a staunch supporter of Trump’s false claims of election fraud and in December 2020 presented colleagues with a draft letter pushing Georgia officials to convene a special legislative session on the election results, according to testimony before the U.S. House committee that investigated the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. Clark wanted the letter sent, but Justice Department superiors refused.
Shafer was one of 16 Georgia Republicans who signed a certificate declaring falsely that Trump had won the 2020 presidential election and declaring themselves the state’s “duly elected and qualified” electors even though Biden had won the state and a slate of Democratic electors was certified.
Also Tuesday, a court filing showed that bond has been set at $10,000 for Shawn Still, another of the fake electors who was elected to the Georgia state Senate in November 2022 and represents a district in Atlanta’s suburbs.
The Colorado Sun contributed to this report.