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John Eastman: Architect of the Coup? Or Friend of Freedom?

Was former University of Colorado legal scholar, Dr. John Eastman, the “Architect of the January 6 Coup?” as many mainstream news sources claim? Or is he a hero who protects our Constitution and the freedoms of all Americans?

Despite a massive propaganda campaign to smear the reputation of John Eastman, the evidence points to only one conclusion:

There was no coup, Dr. John Eastman was not its architect, and claims against him are misguided.
Instead, Dr. Eastman loves our country and the Constitution upon which it is founded.

John Eastman: Friend of Freedom

Despite a massive propaganda campaign to smear the reputation of John Eastman, the evidence points to only one conclusion:

There was no coup and Dr. John Eastman was not its architect.

Furthermore, when you look into the facts, it is clear that Dr. Eastman is a courageous hero, a friend of freedom, and someone that all Americans should be celebrating.

Sadly, fear, misinformation, and censorship have driven this story. The goal of this page is to offer detailed links to information that many Boulderites may not be aware of. Below is a timeline of relevant events, information debunking the coup narrative, and information vindicating Dr. Eastman (including his memo and what he actually said). Included are links to many supporting documents as well as links to how you may help the Eastman family. I also explain what inspired me to write this.

Understanding what actually happened on January 6 is crucial for the future of our country.  If we examine John Eastman’s role in this, perhaps we can understand the truth.

Timeline

Following are the facts and a brief outline of the events leading up to the riots on January 6 and its aftermath.

Dr. John Eastman, a leading expert on the U.S. Constitution, was the2020-2021 visiting scholar in conservative thought and policy at CU’s Benson Center for the Study of Western Civilization. He was also a professor at Chapman University.

On January 4, 2021, Dr. Eastman met with President Trump and Vice President Pence to discuss options as allowed in the Constitution in regards to certifying the electoral college votes. (See below for his memo and recommendation.)

On January 6, 2021, Dr. Eastman spoke at the Trump Rally in Washington DC. Later that day, a riot occurred in the Nation’s Capitol. Although many politicians and media pundits declared it a coup, this idea has been debunked. A video produced by the New York Times said this was not a coup or an insurrection, but rather the result of individual angry protestors who got out of hand.

The day after Jan 6, 2021, members of the CU community demanded Dr. Eastman’s resignation. In a statement, CU Boulder falsely claimed that Eastman “continued to make baseless and unfounded statements regarding the 2020 Presidential election at an event in Washington, D.C.”

CU Boulder Chancellor Phil DiStefano refused to fire him, citing university policy to not censor or discipline faculty for exercising their right to free speech.

University officials nonetheless canceled his class. On January 21, they also revoked Dr. Eastman’s speaking and outreach duties.

Members of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) wrote a statement in support of Dr. Eastman. Adam Steinbaugh, director of the individual rights defense program at FIRE said: “We call on the university to rescind the sanctions imposed on Eastman, reassure its faculty that they will not be subject to retaliatory actions for engaging in unpopular speech, and reaffirm its commitment to the First Amendment.”

In April, John Eastman sued the University of Colorado for defamation and breach of contract. In a one-sentence email to the Daily Camera, Eastman said the university’s statement is defamatory “because the claim that my statements were baseless and unfounded is patently false.”

In October of 2021, some in the mainstream media reported that John Eastman was the “architect of the coup.” While this sold a lot of newspapers, this was false because 1) there was no coup, and 2) Dr. Eastman’s advice was legal and did not in any way incite a coup.

 On November 8, 2021, the Democrat-led January 6 Committee issued a subpoena to Dr. John Eastman to testify about his role in the January 6 riot at the Capitol.

Before heading to Washington, John Eastman’s attorneys filed a letter on his behalf to the Committee. At the hearing, John took the 5th. Since then, the Committee has subpoenaed the phone activity from about 150 accounts, including Dr. Eastman’s, his wife’s, and their two children’s phones.  

A new lawsuit has been filed on behalf of those whose phones have been subpoenaed to block it. 

Actions Taken against Dr. Eastman

On March 27, 2024, a California Bar Court judge recommended that John Eastman be disbarred because he misrepresented facts of constitutional law in his representation of former President Trump. Dr. Eastman’s response to these false allegations is here.

On August 22, 2022, Georgia District Attorney, Fani Willis, indicted John Eastman for “scheming to subvert the will of Georgia voters,” due to his involvement in Jan. 6.

On December 2021, the Boulder Daily Camera declared that John Eastman’s role in the January 6th riot was the 8th most important news event of 2021 in Boulder.

In September of 2021, news outlets around the country declared that John Eastman was the “Architect of the Coup.” Click here to see a list of some of these headlines.

Vindicating Dr. Eastman

There was no coup. Furthermore, it’s laughable to suggest that Dr. Eastman was its architect.

The most persuasive evidence can be found in Dr. Eastman’s own words:

In Eastman’s Words

“What we asked him [Pence] to do was delay the proceedings at the request of these state legislatures so they could look into the matter.” ~ John Eastman

Anyone who wants to understand January 6, needs to understand what Dr. Eastman really said. Below are Dr. Eastman’s own words. In an article that he wrote for the Sacramento Bee, Dr. Eastman explains the advice he gave to Vice President Pence.

John Eastman: Here’s the advice I actually gave Vice President Pence on the 2020 election

SPECIAL TO THE SACRAMENTO BEE OCTOBER 07, 2021  

“I have been debating constitutional law with Erwin Chemerinsky, the dean of the UC Berkeley School of Law and Bee contributor, for over 20 years. We disagreed on almost every issue, but always with civility. One thing I hoped we shared from our respective Catholic and Jewish faith traditions is the biblical command that one “shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”

Judging from his recent scurrilous attack on me, we do not share even that.

The memo on which Chemerinsky relied for his accusation that I tried to “overthrow the government” and “stage a coup” was a preliminary and incomplete one, a draft of a more complete memo that outlined all the scenarios that had become topics of discussion following the November 2020 election.

The Washington Post and other media organizations had access to the complete memo, but they focused on the preliminary version to advance their “coup” narrative.  

Neither version of the memo reflects the advice I gave to then-Vice President Mike Pence (though, to be precise, the final scenario laid out in the complete memo does). 

The issue is whether the 12th Amendment gives the vice president any authority to determine the validity of electoral votes.

Precedents

In 1796, Vice President John Adams made such a determination regarding contested electoral votes from Vermont, confirming his own election as president. In 1800, Vice President Thomas Jefferson did the same with improper electoral votes from Georgia, throwing that election to the House, where Jefferson eventually prevailed. Richard Nixon did the same thing in 1960, accepting from Hawaii the subsequently certified John Kennedy electors rather than the initially certified Nixon electors.

These precedents, and several scholarly articles written after the 2000 election, served as the basis for some of the scenarios discussed in my memo.

But as the New York Times confirmed through thorough investigation and reporting on this critical issue, I did not advise Pence to exercise such authority. Indeed, responding to a direct question from the vice president during a meeting in the Oval Office on Jan. 4, I noted that even if he had that authority, it would be foolish to exercise it in the absence of certifications of alternate Trump electors from the contested states’ legislatures.

Here’s how the Times accurately portrayed that exchange, apparently citing one of the two Pence aides also in attendance: ‘No law north of the Klamath’

 “Mr. Eastman said that Mr. Pence then turned to him and asked, ‘Do you think I have such power?’ “Mr. Eastman said he told Mr. Pence that he might have the power, but that it would be foolish for him to exercise it until state legislatures certified a new set of electors for Mr. Trump — something that had not happened. “A person close to Mr. Pence, who was not authorized to speak publicly about the Oval Office conversation, said that Mr. Eastman acknowledged that the vice president most likely did not have that power, at which point Mr. Pence turned to Mr. Trump and said, ‘Did you hear that, Mr. President?’”

Actual Advice

So what did I actually advise? As The Times quoted me as saying, “What we asked him (Pence) to do was delay the proceedings at the request of these state legislatures so they could look into the matter.” 

Hardly an attempt to “overthrow the government” or “stage a coup.”

Whether my recommendation was justified is worthy of serious, civil discussion of the kind Chemerinsky and I used to have. I extend to him an open invitation to engage me on the subject. But truth be told, I’m not holding my breath.

~ John Eastman, in the Sacramento Bee

John C. Eastman is a senior fellow at the Southern California-based Claremont Institute and the director of its Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence. He represented former President Donald Trump in several lawsuits related to the 2020 election.”

EASTMAN’S MEMO

What did Dr. Eastman recommend to President Trump and Vice President Pense? In order to understand the allegations against John Eastman, you must know the details of the memo that summarized options for Vice President Pense. Here is the entirety of Dr. Eastman’s Memo . In this memo, Eastman outlines 4 scenarios, all of which are Constitutional and with precedent.

Following is a summary of Dr. Eastman’s memo.

Dr. Eastman recommended Option “D” to Pense.  He strongly advised against Option “C”.

  • A. Ignore allegations of voter fraud: Biden wins
  • B. Pense lets Senate and House determine winner: Trump or Biden
  • C. Pense unilaterally declares Trump the winner. (Although Constitutional, Dr. Eastman strongly advised against this, a fact that propagandists hide). 
  • D. Pause certification until states resolve election irregularities.  Trump or Biden wins. (This is the option Dr. Eastman recommended.)

To “delay proceedings” is not an instruction manual for a coup d’état. There was nothing illegal, unconstitutional, or violent contained in this memo. And although option C is Constitutional, Eastman himself said it would be unwise to pursue this option. Sadly, this is the option that most of the news media latched on to.

John Eastman was NOT the instigator of the January 6 coup, because it was not a coup.  Furthermore, by understanding John Eastman’s advice, we can clearly see that he was not inciting an insurrection nor was he the architect of a coup.

Take Action

Inform Yourself

Help Dr. Eastman

Dr. Eastman is fighting numerous frivolous legal battles that are costing his family hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Contribute encouragement and/or money to his Legal Defense Fund at   https://www.givesendgo.com/Eastman.

The attacks on Dr. Eastman are attacks on Free Speech, the 1st Amendment, and even our Constitution. Note the irony that a Constitutional expert is now under investigation. 

To defend himself from these groundless attacks, Dr. Eastman has had to hire attorneys in Washington DC to navigate this January 6 Commission. Additionally, a California-based group has petitioned to dis-bar Dr. Eastman from practicing law in California. He had to hire additional attorneys in California. Dr. Eastman’s legal expenses are mounting.

Share the Truth

When you have learned the truth, please share what you have learned with everyone you know. If the truth of Dr. Eastman’s character, intentions, and actions is known, then the entire January 6 narrative of a coup will fade into a bad memory. If you find new, pertinent information, please contact me.

Why I Wrote This

I wrote this because what I’ve been seeing in the Daily Camera, on CNN, in NY Times and other media does not match what I have personally witnessed or what I have heard from eyewitness accounts of those who were there. Before 2020, I believed much of what I read in the Daily Camera, in the New York Times, and on CNN. Today I realize that because of the rise of social media, traditional news outlets have lost market share and are struggling to pay the bills. They no longer have the resources to check their facts. Most media outlets are owned by just six corporations that have gutted their research departments. I used to trust these news sources, and now I no longer do. Freedom is in peril when the truth is not known.

On January 6, I watched the events at the Capitol unfold on Youtube. At first, I watched in amusement to see a guy wearing a Viking headdress chatting with a smiling Capitol policeman. I saw laughing, grey-haired tourists wandering around taking selfies in the Rotunda. Watching them tour the capital reminded me of the times, in the early 1980s, as a visitor, when I had wandered around the Capitol and sat in on Senate hearings. At that time, everyone was allowed into the Capital.

I then saw a YouTube video that looked menacing. People seemed angry. The name Jayden X was emblazoned on the video. I googled Jayden X and discovered that he hated Trump and had recruited friends to go to Washington on January 6 to protest against Trump. He had once been a member of Black Lives Matter. His real name is John Sullivan. He founded Insurgence USA. Seeing Jayden X’s video, I wondered how many of the angry people in the Capitol were Trump haters. I watched video of Sullivan in the Capitol saying “Let’s go! This shit is ours! F@#$ yeah! … Let’s burn this shit down.”

A few days later, I saw another Jayden X video, this time on the Washington Post website. This video showed Ashli Babbit being shot. Horrifying. I later learned that both the Washington Post and CNN had each paid John Sullivan $35,000 for those videos. Reporters on CNN, the Washington Post, and elsewhere say that there was no evidence of anti-Trump supporters in the Capitol. What? How could they say this when one of the most widely shown videos was taken by a Trump hater that they paid??? Were they naive or intentionally deceptive? It took me one minute to discover John Sullivan’s website declaring his hatred of Trump.

The news said that this was a coup attempt, but this at first seemed absurd. Laughing people who chat with police officers and take selfies are not insurrectionists. Aside from the police, not a single protester had a gun. The only weapons were a flag pole and twisty ties. The cranky ones, like John Sullivan, seem like Trump haters.

What was going on? The more I look into it, the less evidence there is for a coup and the more it seems like a propaganda stunt.

Fast forward several months.

Testimony of A Friend

In March of 2021, I met a woman from Boulder who had attended the Trump Rally. She said that it was a festive affair, and no way did Trump supporters instigate a coup. After listening to Trump’s speech near the Washington Monument, she and her friends went in search of a bathroom which they found in the mall close to the Capitol. As they got closer to the Capitol, they were surprised by the lack of policemen, especially since there were around 500,000 people on the Mall. Like the vast majority of Trump supporters, she and her friends did not go to the Capitol.

Meeting the Eastmans

Later in the spring of 2021, I met John Eastman’s wife. She was giving a talk on Alexis de Tocqueville’s book, “Democracy in America.” I immediately liked Elizabeth for her warmth, eloquence, and enthusiasm for de Tocqueville and his unique insight into the character of Americans. She told me that her husband, John Eastman, had been relieved of his teaching at the Benson Center for supporting President Trump.

A few weeks later, I saw her husband, John Eastman, at CU where he announced his lawsuit against CU. Later that day, I talked with Dr. Eastman’s wife about kids and work. Having a background in academia and having voted for Democrats most of my life, I asked her what it was like to be a Republican at CU. She said that because she was so busy as a working Mom, she rarely talked politics with staff or students, so it was not so bad. John was as friendly as his wife but in a more outgoing way. He told stories about his adventures following the Grateful Dead in the 1990s. He also told us about how he advised President Trump in the days before the rally. His advice to Vice-President Pense was to postpone certifying the votes for two weeks until the states could sort out their election irregularities. That seemed sensible.

Fast forward to autumn of 2021. I’ve been astonished to read accusations about Dr. Eastman. I was shocked to read that anyone would accuse John of being the “architect of a coup,” first, because it wasn’t a coup, and second because the Eastmans are such outstanding people who love their families, their students, and this country. And even more especially since Dr. Eastman had dedicated his life to teaching and upholding the Constitution.

Prior to the past couple of years, I had paid little attention to politics. And now, I am seeing totally innocent people being sacrificed for others’ political gain. It feels especially awful since I had believed that Democrats were the party of freedom and for the rights of the marginalized. l had always voted for Democrats. I not only voted for Barack Obama, but I also campaigned for him. I could not believe that the “party of the people” had turned into the “bully of the people.” What the University of Colorado did to the Eastmans is horrible. Harassing someone for speaking his truth destroys freedom. Not just John Eastman’s freedom, but everyone’s freedom. The University of Colorado should have done some research. Had they done so, they would have defended John Eastman’s right to free speech. Instead, University officials got scared and didn’t bother to learn the facts. Instead, there was active suppression of facts. Yikes! It’s beginning to feel like 1984.

Danger to Freedom

January 6 has generated a vast amount of pain, suffering, and death. A Capitol policeman shot protestor Ashli Babbitt. Several protestors died, and the details of their passing are still obscure.  At least four police officers have since committed suicide. What is that about? Millions of Americans, Democrats, Republicans, and Independents fear that January 6 marks the beginning of the end of our Country.   In the aftermath of January 6, media and lawmakers have pushed propaganda, censorship, and the build-up of the military against Americans. Federal authorities have persecuted hundreds of people without due process. People spent months in jail under horrendous conditions without bail.   

The aftermath of January 6 has caused the biggest divide in our country’s history, dividing families, friends, and neighbors, and fraying the fabric of our country, resulting in a Constitutional crisis.  Many voters believe it was a coup instigated by Trump and designed by John Eastman, while the other half believe that Trump, John Eastman, and other supporters were heroes seeking to preserve our Democratic Republic and its Constitution.   

The persecution of John Eastman is one of the darkest moments in American History.

Sadly, CU’s officials’ treatment of John Eastman has seriously tarnished the image of CU an institution that values truth, freedom of expression, and the diversity of ideas. The mainstream media’s distortion of the truth is one more blow to their credibility. It’s no wonder that Joe Rogan is seen as far more credible than anyone at CNN or MSNBC. The Department of Justice ignored due process should put fear into every American’s heart.

Not a Coup: DEBUNKING THE NARRATIVE

The formerly hidden video from January 6 was released in March of 2023. This video demolishes the claim of an insurrection.

No one doubts that the riots at the Capitol were dangerous and wrong. The vast majority of Democrats, Republicans, and Trump supporters, and especially President Trump, declared that the January 6 riots at the Capitol were wrong.

President Trump strongly condemned those who rioted at the Capitol on January 6. “Like all Americans, I am outraged by the lawlessness, violence, and mayhem,” Trump said on January 7, while calling the attack “heinous.”  Trump said the rioters “defiled the seat of democracy” and added: “to those who broke the law, you will pay.”

Protest that went too far

A CBS poll shows that 76% of Americans believe that January 6 was a protest that went too far.

Yet despite what most Americans know to be the truth, politicians and media outlets falsely declared that January 6 was a failed insurrection attempt.

Despite no credible evidence that this was a coup to overthrow our government, leaders in both the Democratic and Republican parties and their media spokespeople continue to push the narrative that it was a coup and that John Eastman was its architect.

President Biden, at his inauguration, falsely asserted that insurrectionists had “launched a violent and deadly assault on the people’s house”  “This mob thought they could use violence to silence the will of the people, to stop the work of our democracy, to drive us from this sacred ground,” said President Biden. He declared “It was a violent attempt to overturn the will of the American people, to seek power at all costs, to replace the ballot with brute force. To destroy, not to build. Without democracy, nothing is possible. With it, everything is.”

Although many people claimed that Trump and allies instigated a coup, after the dust has settled, it is now clear that January 6th was NOT a coup nor an insurrection, but a riot.

The idea that the Capitol rioters attempted a coup is absurd. The Capitol rioters had no guns. To incite a coup, they would have needed to do far more than stop Vice President Mike Pence from certifying the count of the Electoral College. To stage a coup, insurrectionists would need the backing of the military (which they did not have). To govern after a coup, they would need the support of the news media and the federal bureaucracy (which they did not have.)

 There is no credible evidence that Trump or any of his supporters incited a coup, no matter how many times the media or government officials report this.

To call the riots a “coup” would be silly if it were not so dangerous. It’s dangerous because it divides the people of our country and because it gives the military an excuse to further fund programs to spy against innocent American people.

New York Times Debunks Claims of a Coup

The idea of a coup is so absurd that even the New York Times debunked this notion. The New York Time’s June 2021 video,  Day of Rage, asserts that January 6 was not planned or coordinated by any group. The video goes on to show that the riot of January 6, 2021, was the result of hundreds of frustrated Americans spontaneously erupting in anger.

No One Indicted for Insurrection

Although more than 1,265 people have been arrested for events on Jan. 6, not one single person has been charged for insurrection or inciting a coup, according to the US Department of Justice as of January, 2024.

No Guns

If this were truly a coup to overthrow the government, then surely Trump supporters would have had guns, but they did not.  Only a single person was shot, a Trump supporter, and this was by a Capitol Policeman. Not a single death was caused by a rioter. The sad death of Police Officer Sicknick was due to natural causes. The cause of Roseanne Boyland’s death remains a mystery.

Trump Encouraged Peace 

If this were a coup orchestrated by Trump and his cronies, then he would have encouraged his supporters to be violent. Instead, during his speech just before the Capitol riot, Trump asked his supporters to peacefully and patriotically march to the Capitol. During the riots, Trump encouraged peaceful and law-abiding behavior.

Track Record of Peace

Over the past several years, Trump has had many rallies, with hundreds of thousands of supporters, and none of these had violence. This is in stark contrast to BLM and Antifa rallies, where many people were killed and $billions of dollars worth of property damaged.

Merrick Garland Makes no Mention of Coup or Insurrection

Perhaps the most compelling evidence that there was no coup is the fact that Attorney General Merrick Garland, no friend of Trump or his supporters, never mentioned a coup in his remarks on the anniversary of January 6.

Intentions

Every crime has a motive. If this were a coup, what would have been the motive?

If Trump wanted to be a fascist dictator, he had his chance to use Covid-19 to mandate masks and lockdowns, to grow the government, and to change voting laws in his favor. Instead, he encouraged people to voluntarily take precautions against COVID-19, he opened two hospitals in New York, and he cleared away red tape to allow vaccines in record time. He did nothing to prevent last-minute voting laws that worked against him. If he were planning a coup, he would have made sure that he controlled the narrative by the media and social media outlets. Instead, social media censored him, and most traditional media outlets condemned him.

If the President had wanted to be a ruthless military dictator, he would have started many wars, but instead, he negotiated for and won peace in Korea, in the Middle East, and elsewhere. He is the first president in over 50 years who did not drag the US into a foreign war.

Overwhelming Evidence Shows No Coup

As the above evidence shows, there was no coup or insurrection.


Baseless Claims:

Following are links to a few of the many baseless claims that Dr. Eastman was the “architect of the coup.”

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