John C. Eastman, a controversial conservative law professor who spoke at President Donald Trump’s now-infamous rally last week, has parted ways with Chapman University’s law school — the latest attorney to face professional blowback for assisting with Trump’s unprecedented election-reversing efforts.
Eastman retired from his post on Wednesday, effective immediately, Chapman University said in a statement that comes one week after Eastman stood beside Rudy Giuliani at a pro-Trump rally that preceded riots at the U.S. Capitol.
The school denounced Eastman on Friday and claimed his actions last week ran in “direct opposition to the values and beliefs of our institution,” but administrators demurred on taking any further action against the former law school dean, rebuffing an open letter from more than 150 faculty members demanding he be fired.
In a statement to Forbes, Eastman said he chose to leave because of the open letter, which he called defamatory, though he wished the law school well.
A Chapman spokesperson declined to comment further.
“[Faculty who signed last week’s letter] have created such a hostile environment for me that I no longer wish to be a member of the Chapman faculty, and am therefore retiring from my position, effective immediately,” Eastman wrote in a statement.
“Dr. Eastman’s departure closes this challenging chapter for Chapman and provides the most immediate and certain path forward for both the Chapman community and Dr. Eastman,” university president Daniele Struppa wrote Wednesday.
A longtime professor and former clerk for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, Eastman has drawn controversy for joining Trump’s team. He appeared to first represent Trump last month in connection with an unsuccessful lawsuit filed by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton that sought to toss out four swing states’ election results. More recently, Eastman tried to persuade Vice President Mike Pence that he had the power to delay Congress’ certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s win, the New York Times reported, advice most experts disputed and Pence ultimately rejected. Plus, Eastman spoke briefly at Trump’s rally last Wednesday, an event many observers say inflamed the Capitol Hill riot later that day (Eastman has rejected connections between the president’s peaceful morning rally and the violent riot that followed).
Eastman isn’t the first Trump-affiliated lawyer to depart his job. Cleta Mitchell, who participated in a phone call earlier this month in which Trump urged Georgia election officials to “find” enough votes to overturn Biden’s win, resigned from law firm Foley & Lardner last week.
Eastman seemed to earn Trump’s attention last August, when he wrote an op-ed for Newsweek claiming Vice President-elect Kamala Harris might not be a native-born citizen. The argument was widely criticized by other legal experts, but Trump told reporters Eastman might be right.
John Eastman Retires From Chapman University (Forbes)
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