It was another rough night in court for Trump’s clown coup lawyer John Eastman, whose misbegotten appeal to the Ninth Circuit lit itself on fire on the courthouse steps, only to be tossed in a wastebasket by the appellate panel with a parenthetical admonition to be less ridiculous next time.
Let’s review this legal blooper reel, shall we?
On October 19, US District Judge David Carter found that the former law professor had committed even more crimes with his famous client, abrogating attorney-client privilege as to eight additional emails demanded by the January 6 Select Committee. The court gave Eastman until 2pm on October 28 to appeal the order or redact the communications in which he discussed filing post-election litigation in Georgia as a ploy to boost the fake-electors plot.
For EIGHT DAYS, Eastman’s lawyers did NOTHING. Only on the evening of October 27 did they lurch into action, asking Judge Carter to reconsider his motion toot sweet. On the morning of Friday, October 28, at 11:48 a.m., just 2 hours and 12 minutes before the disclosure deadline, Eastman docketed an emergency motion at the Ninth Circuit to stay the production order pending appeal, followed by another pleading missive to Judge Carter.
When none of that yielded a result, Eastman emailed the committee a Dropbox link at 2:04pm with the eight emails, inviting them to indulge him in his fantasy that some court, somewhere had stayed Judge Carter’s disclosure order. The committee promptly downloaded the message.
Later that evening, Eastman filed another motion at the Ninth Circuit requesting to stay the appeal, which he insisted had not been mooted by disclosure because the court could still order Congress to … burn their computers and pretend they’d never seen the emails?
On Tuesday November 1, the government replied, attaching a copy of the email as proof that it had downloaded the documents in good faith and before Eastman’s late night filing — refuting his suggestion that they had ignored a pending motion for stay. After which Politico immediately published the emails, since Eastman’s lawyers had failed to deactivate the Dropbox link. Doh!
Eastman then filed yet another motion, this time admitting that his case had been mooted and demanding that the Circuit Court vacate the District judge’s holding because “a ‘crime-fraud’ privilege finding carries much of the stigma of a criminal conviction with none of the constitutional protections.” In support of this reasoning he cited US v. Munsingwear, because YOLO. But if the court was unpersuaded by that logic, he invited them to allow him to brief his appeal on the merits, despite the fact that literally everyone on earth who cares about John Eastman’s emails read them last Friday before lunchtime.
And that brings us to last night, where Circuit Judges McKeown, Wardlaw, and Fletcher (all Clinton appointees) unceremoniously dropkicked his various pleadings. Sure, they’ll happily let him withdraw his emergency petitions and grant him his voluntary dismissal of the appeal, too.
Appellant’s request that we vacate or remand with instruction to vacate the underlying judgments is denied. See United States v. Munsingwear, Inc., 340 U.S. 36, 39 (1950); U.S. Bancorp Mortgage Co. v. Bonner Mall Partnership, 513 U.S. 18, 25 (1994) (Munsingwear rule is inapplicable when mootness results from circumstances attributable in part to appellant’s actions).
Let’s read that one as “Asshole, you shoulda deactivated your Dropbox link and/or come to us before the deadline. Go away!” Needless to say, the court will not be inviting Eastman to brief this issue or any other.
Thus ends the sad but hilarious saga of Trump’s craziest campaign lawyer this side of Sidney Powell. He used his work email to plot a coup, and lost his job and then his phone. But he did gain a bar complaint, as well as congressional and state subpoenas, and a starring role in federal investigation. And along the way he won our hearts … or at least made us laugh until we cried.
Thank you for your service, Professor. And as a wise man once said, “Get a great fuckin’ criminal defense lawyer, you’re gonna need it.”
Eastman v. US [Docket via Court Listener]
Liz Dye lives in Baltimore where she writes about law and politics.