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Trump ally Eastman should be more candid about his actions

Peter Goodman


John Eastman, the lawyer who apparently participated in a treasonous effort to veto the 2020 U.S. Presidential popular vote and electoral count, resides in Santa Fe, which annoys many there.

Eastman complains that he’s being punished for “daring to challenge illegality and fraud in the 2020 election.” Sounds lawful, even noble. But instead of filing a fact-based lawsuit and letting the courts decide, Eastman allegedly acted to change the result of a presidential election, knowing full-well he had no proof of fraud.

Eastman’s alleged conduct strayed well beyond representing Trump and counseling Trump on his lawful options. Eastman filed “frivolous” lawsuits. That’s legalese for pleadings so bad that the pleader not only loses but may have to pay the opposition’s legal fees. He was part of a coup attempt featuring violence, threats, and fraudulent electors.

Bar associations love aggressive lawyers, but even they are tossing Eastman out. The California Bar’s eleven charges against him include lying about purported election fraud, including at the infamous January 6 Trump rally in D.C. that sparked the same-day invasion of the Capitol. Eastman also urged Vice-President Pence to stop the electoral count after admitting that Pence could not lawfully do so. That’s not “daring to challenge election fraud.” It’s attempting to commit election fraud.

Not many alleged criminals are plagued by protesters objecting to their presence. That’s mostly reserved for pederasts. But treason’s not too popular either. Our limited democracy is too precious to let those who threaten it forget what they’ve done.

Should Eastman be allowed to live his personal life without facing unfriendly strangers on the street?

First, Eastman should “man up” and admit what the real issues are. I’d sympathize more if he were more candid. Second, he’s a comfortably wealthy white man in a fancy house, not, say, a vulnerable young woman seeking medical care and running a gauntlet of Eastman’s political allies to reach a clinic.

Still, it’s a tough line to draw. Judicially, he’s not guilty until proven so; but the protesters are entitled to speak out. The public nature of the evidence means we’ve all seen it.

Certainly no one should do or encourage any form of violence or threatening conduct, or commit any crime against Eastman. Nor should anyone make his life miserable. We should not physically attack him as his allies did the Capitol Police. We should not rough him up, as his “client” urged supporters to do to dissenters at political rallies. He remains a citizen, convicted of no felony.

Letting Eastman know you know who he is, and despise what he did, seems fair game when passing him on the street or eating in the same restaurant. (Engaging with him at great length is more than I’d care to do.) A quiet presence of protesters on his street, or at the locked gate to his residential area, seems fair too.

Believing in civil political discourse doesn’t mean one has to share a table with an apparent traitor.

Still, we punish people through our laws. Yeah, I think Eastman is a coprophagous homunculus. But, as a former civil rights worker and antiwar protester, I’ve experienced people making life unpleasant for someone whose conduct offends them. Even criminal convictions can be erroneous. (Consider Trump’s full-page ad demanding the death penalty for the later-exonerated “Central Park Five.”)

I’d urge justifiably outraged neighbors to limit sharply their conduct toward Eastman. None of us is without sin.