Trump Legal Strategist Enters Plea in Arizona Case

John Eastman is the first defendant arraigned in state's fake elector case
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 17, 2024 4:15 PM CDT
Trump Legal Strategist Enters Plea in Arizona Case
John Eastman, center, stands between his attorneys during arraignment in court Friday in Phoenix.   (Rob Schumacher/The Arizona Republic via AP, Pool)

Attorney John Eastman pleaded not guilty on Friday to conspiracy, fraud, and forgery charges over his role in the effort to overturn Donald Trump's loss in Arizona to Joe Biden in the 2020 election. Eastman, who devised a strategy to try to persuade Congress not to certify the election, is the first person charged in Arizona's fake elector case to be arraigned. Outside the courthouse, the AP reports, Eastman said the charges against him should have never been filed. "I had zero communications with the electors in Arizona (and) zero involvement in any of the election litigation in Arizona or legislative hearings," Eastman said. "And I am confident that with the laws faithfully applied, I will be fully exonerated at the end of this process."

Arraignments are scheduled Tuesday for 12 other people charged in the case, including nine of the 11 Republicans who submitted a document to Congress falsely declaring Trump had won Arizona. The Arizona indictment said Eastman encouraged the GOP electors to cast their votes in December 2020, unsuccessfully pressured state lawmakers to change the election's outcome in Arizona, and told then-Vice President Mike Pence that he could reject Democratic electors in the counting of electoral votes in Congress on Jan. 6, 2021. Trump himself was not charged in the Arizona case but was referred to as an unindicted co-conspirator.

Charges have not yet been made public against Rudy Giuliani, the former New York mayor and Trump-aligned attorney, but he was readily identifiable based on descriptions of the defendants in the indictment. No arraignment date has been scheduled for Giuliani. Arizona authorities say they have been unable to serve Giuliani with notice of the charges. Former Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows is scheduled to be arraigned on June 7. Arizona is the fourth state where allies of the former president have been charged with using false or unproven claims about voter fraud related to the election. Biden won Arizona by more than 10,000 votes, per the AP.

(More Election 2020 stories.)

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