On and off since June, John Eastman has appeared in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom as lawyers for the California Bar build the argument that he is not fit to follow the regulations.
Eastman, a former dean of the Chapman College Law School and advisor to former President Trump, is accused of ethics violations for peddling false claims that fraud would enhance Trump’s presidency.
Eastman maintains that he had good faith reasons to doubt the results of the 2020 election. The person Eastman called as his first witness last week, a former Wisconsin Supreme Court justice, claimed that the election had been stolen, although his personal investigation, shaken, revealed no evidence that fraud had tilted the election in favor of Joe Biden.
The witness, Michael Gableman, admitted he had no expertise in election regulation when Wisconsin Republican leader Meeting tapped him in 2021 to lead a taxpayer-funded investigation into elections. Gableman also admitted that he had “no understanding of how elections work.”
His 14-month investigation turned into a debacle, costing taxpayers more than $1 million and drawing derision from both parties. The report he produced found illegalities in the Wisconsin election, although Biden’s 21,000-vote victory in the state withstood a number of legal challenges, a recount and an audit non-partisan.
In his report and in his testimony to the state bar, Gableman focused on grants that Wisconsin municipalities had obtained from the Heart for Tech and Civic Life, funded by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.
The money was supposed to make voting easier amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and much of the money went to Wisconsin’s five largest cities — sometimes referred to as “the Zuckerberg Five” in Gableman’s report – in Democratic-leaning regions.
Gableman’s report called it a ploy to get Democrats elected and called it election corruption. However, the Center for Tech and Civic Life said they awarded grants to every election office that applied, more than 200 across Wisconsin, large and small. And federal courts have repeatedly ruled that the subsidies do not violate the regulations.
In cross-examining Gableman last week at Eastman’s trial, Duncan Carling, an attorney representing the State Bar of California, asked Gableman if there had been any successful legal challenges to the CTCL grants.
“Not yet,” Gableman replied.
Was he aware of court findings that the Heart for Tech and Civic Life grants violated Wisconsin law?
“Not yet,” Gableman repeated.
Did Gableman find evidence that Wisconsin voting machines were manipulated for fraudulent purposes?
“If I had found out, I might have put it in my report,” he said.
Among his various claims, Gableman claimed that Wisconsin lacked safeguards to prevent non-citizens from voting. Did he find evidence that non-citizens had actually voted, he was asked?
“It was impossible for us to do this investigation,” Gableman said, saying his investigation was hampered by politics.
In Wisconsin, controversy dogged Gableman’s examination of partisan elections from start to finish. Contributing to its awards: about $260,000 spent on authorized charges ordered by the court in reference to lawsuits filed by a liberal watchdog group. At one point, Gableman refused to answer questions in a Wisconsin circuit court, and the judge held him in contempt for flouting the state’s open information law.
Gableman’s method during Eastman’s state bar trial drew numerous reprimands from Judge Yvette Roland. She once warned him to avoid any “rants.” Another time she said, “Don’t interrupt me or roll your eyes.” …If anyone knows how to behave in a court of law, it’s you.
Eastman’s attorney argued for Gableman to be recognized as an election regulation professional. Roland dominated that he had no such experience.
Eastman’s live-streamed trial has been happening on and off throughout the summer, and he will continue his defense Tuesday. The specter of radiation should not be his only fear. Along with Trump and 17 others, Eastman faces legal fees in Fulton County, Georgia, for election-related schemes.
Eastman has a GiveSendGo page, where he posts updates about his state bar trial and accuses “fierce left-wing activists” of targeting him. The webpage says he has raised $525,250, with a goal of $750,000.