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Sunday, January 17, 2021

Trump Considering Lawyer Who Spoke at Rally for Impeachment Defense: Sources

President Donald Trump may hire a law professor who spoke at his rally before the riot at the U.S. Capitol to help defend him in an impeachment trial over a charge that he incited the violence, according to two people familiar with the matter.

John Eastman, who joined Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani on stage at the Jan. 6 rally, is being considered for a role on Trump’s defense team, the people said.

Giuliani, 76, who told the crowd they should engage in “trial by combat,” may lead the impeachment defense, Reuters reported on Sunday, citing a source. Giuliani has not responded to requests for comment.

Eastman, 60, who talked of election fraud at the rally, would neither confirm nor deny whether he will represent Trump, citing attorney-client privilege.

Asked whether he would be willing, Eastman said: “If the President of the United States asked me to consider helping him, I would certainly give it consideration.”

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Eastman and has declined to comment on Giuliani.

The House of Representatives on Wednesday made Trump the first U.S. president to be impeached twice, charging him with inciting an insurrection as lawmakers sought to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the Nov. 3 election.

A former clerk to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, Eastman represented Trump last month in unsuccessful challenges to the election.

At the rally, Eastman, who until Wednesday was a professor at Chapman University in California, spoke about “secret folders” of ballots used to defraud the election before Trump took the stage and repeated his allegations that the election was stolen from him.

Faculty members and students, among others, called for Chapman to fire Eastman. In a statement on Wednesday, the university president said an agreement had been reached under which Eastman would immediately retire from Chapman.

Eastman told Reuters he did not believe he did anything wrong. He does not think Trump has culpability, either. “None, whatsoever,” he said.

Eastman came under fire last summer for an op-ed he wrote in Newsweek that questioned whether Vice President-elect Kamala Harris was eligible to serve because her parents were not U.S. citizens or permanent residents.

Newsweek later apologized for publishing the piece.

© 2021 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

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