Jan. 6 Architect John Eastman Roasted By Judge In Disbarment Case

INSIDE: Jeff Clark ... Matt Schlapp ... Kari Lake
ATLANTA, GEORGIA - JANUARY 19: John Eastman sits in Fulton Superior Court in Atlanta during a hearing on January 19, 2023 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Jason Getz-Pool/Getty Images)
Start your day with TPM.
Sign up for the Morning Memo newsletter

A lot of things happened. Here are some of the things. This is TPM’s Morning Memo. Sign up for the email version.

The Closest We Get To A Jan. 6 Verdict Before November?

With the Jan. 6 case against Donald Trump ground to a halt and the no real prospect of the Georgia RICO case against him reaching a verdict before November, yesterday’s ruling against Trump co-defendant John Eastman in California may be the closest we get to a taste of a Jan. 6 verdict before Election Day.

In recommending that Eastman be disbarred for his role in the conspiracy to overturn the 2020 election, a state judge issued a blistering ruling that treated the autocoup with the historic seriousness it deserves. It came after a full evidentiary record was developed over months and extensive legal argument, like a full-blown trial. Eastman plans to appeal, and ultimately the state Supreme Court will decide whether he’ll be disbarred, but in the meantime he is suspended from practicing law.

Some highlights from the 128-page ruling by state Judge Yvette Roland:

“Most of his misconduct occurred squarely within the course and scope of Eastman’s representation of President Trump and culminated with a shared plan to obstruct the lawful function of the government.”

“The evidence clearly and convincingly proves that Eastman and President Trump entered into an agreement to obstruct the Joint Session of Congress by unlawfully having Vice President Pence reject or delay the counting of electoral votes on January 6, 2021.”

In sum, Eastman exhibited gross negligence by making false statements about the 2020 election without conducting any meaningful investigation or verification of the information he was relying upon.

A bonus reference to Watergate figure Donald Segretti, whose own disbarment case in California was cited:

The scale and egregiousness of Eastman’s unethical actions far surpasses the misconduct at issue in Segretti. Unlike Segretti whose offenses occurred outside his role as an attorney, Eastman’s wrongdoing was committed directly in the course and scope of his representation of President Trump and the Trump Campaign. This is an important factor, as it constitutes a fundamental breach of an attorney’s core ethical duties. Additionally, while the Segretti court found compelling mitigation based on his expressed remorse and recognition of his wrongdoing, no such mitigating factor is present with Eastman.

A couple of years ago, as the bar proceedings against various Trump world figures were getting underway, I confess I grew impatient when my reporting team kept getting excited about this or that procedural development. Disbarment is weak tea for what we’re dealing with here, I would insist. And yet here we are with only the bar proceedings having provided anything like a modicum of accountability in a timely fashion.

Jeff Clark Takes The 5th In Disbarment Hearing

Chris Hayes and the gang had a bit of fun with Trump DOJ official Jeff Clark repeatedly taking the 5th while on the stand yesterday in his DC disbarment hearing:

Trump Goes After Trial Judge’s Daughter

The new gag order against Donald Trump in the New York hush money case doesn’t bar attacks on the trial judge or his family, so Trump spent the day going after him and his daughter, with posts like this:

Trump focused much of his ire on recent tweets from a Twitter account that the court administrator says no longer belongs to the judge’s daughter and hasn’t for more than a year.

What We’re Up Against

In the aftermath of the Ronna McDaniel fiasco at NBC News, my former colleague Brian Beutler writes:

If the past seven years have taught us anything it’s that these kinds of organizations—mainstream news outlets, think tanks, elite universities, civil-society organizations—aren’t well calibrated to make moral choices when their mandates come into tension. Abstract values will more often than not yield to other considerations: mass appeal, revenue, brand management, and, given the bent of the modern right, insurance against organized retaliation. 

I’m not sure if or how the rest of us can change this calculus. The durability of the dynamic may simply underscore two things: First, how important it is for the Trump opposition to embrace politics that convey MAGA’s incompatibility with democratic life; second, our collective obligation to defeat it so soundly that it shrivels on its own, before the corrosive effect it has on these mediating institutions destroys them.

Matt Schlapp Vindicated? Not At All!

Yesterday’s Morning Memo mused that the settlement of the sexual assault and defamation lawsuit against American Conservative Union head Matt Schlapp was unusual enough to call the underlying allegations into question.

It turns out that the settlement wasn’t unusual at all! What was unusual was the deceptive way it was portrayed by the parties.

Former GOP campaign staffer Carlton Huffman said neither Schlapp nor the ACU paid him to drop the lawsuit that claimed he was groped by Schlapp. Huffman called his underlying allegation a “complete misunderstanding.”

That was too clever by half. It turns out Huffman was paid as part of the settlement: $480,000 under an insurance policy, perhaps Schlapp’s homeowner’s policy. That’s according to a new report by CNN.

“I am only legally allowed to say five words, and that is ‘We have resolved our differences.’ Those are the only five words that I’m legally allowed to say,” Huffman told CNN in response.

Yes, Please

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) is asking Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines to declassify details from a Senate Intel report about the connections Paul Manafort had to Russian operatives back in the 2016 election, former TPMer Matt Shuham reports.


John Ganz catches us up on a new round of self-immolation on the far right:

Then, The Babylon Bee, the right’s consistently sweaty answer to The Onion and Elon Musk favoritepublished the story in the tweet pictured above, with the headline “‘The White Race Must Maintain Our Genetic Purity,’ Says Inbred Man.” The Bee’s readership, who usually relishes a little ethnic humor, went into full meltdown at this “anti-white” provocation by the magazine. Predictably, this included accusation that the Bee had come under the sway of the Jews. This outburst caused a few right wingers, not usually the most reflective bunch, to get a little queasy about the sheer number of full-blown Nazis in their midst. 

Kari Lake Makes Big Concession In Libel Case

Arizona GOP Senate candidate Kari Lake has partially capitulated in a defamation suit against her by a state election official over Lake’s Big Lie provocations in 2020. Lake has asked a judge to enter a default judgment against her on liability and proceed to the damages phase of the case brought personally by Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer (R). She still disputes damages.


Former Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-CT) is dead at 82.

Bible Salesman-in-Chief

Many of you have probably at least seen reference to Donald Trump now hawking Bibles – a Lee Greenwood “God Bless The USA”-branded version that includes the U.S. founding documents because of course they’re infallible, too. All for the low, low price of $59.99. But if you haven’t actually seen his three-minute spiel, it’s worth a watch. So much on display here: the essential Trump grifting, the transactional embrace of Christian nationalism by the most irreligious of presidents, and his physical deterioration:

Do you like Morning Memo? Let us know!

Latest Morning Memo
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Associate Editor:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front End Developer:
Senior Designer: