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John Eastman wants to keep practicing law, representing Matt Gaetz and Marjorie Taylor Greene – and paying his own bills

By Katelyn Polantz, CNN

Washington (CNN) — Former Trump attorney John Eastman is trying to get his law license back so that he can represent Reps. Matt Gaetz and Marjorie Taylor Greene in a political speech fight – and pay his own legal bills as he fights charges stemming from his efforts to overturn the 2020 election.

Eastman is asking a judge in California to reactivate his license following a disciplinary decision last month that rendered him unable to practice law for now.

According to a court filing this week, Eastman estimates he already owes more than $1 million to his lawyers and could face a bill of more than $3 million “even if he is fully exonerated” in the Georgia election subversion case. He is one of 15 remaining defendants, including former President Donald Trump. A trial isn’t yet scheduled.

The filing provides a rare window into the growing legal costs for Trump’s allies and into the scope of Eastman’s legal work since he promoted false information about the 2020 vote and tried to persuade then-Vice President Mike Pence to block the presidential transfer of power from Trump to Joe Biden.

The fallout Eastman faces from his 2020 election work was compounded last week, when Judge Yvette Roland, who serves as a judge overseeing state bar proceedings in California, decided he should be disbarred because of his court filings and other efforts on behalf of Trump.

That decision prompted his law license to be made inactive over the weekend, meaning he can’t have legal clients while he appeals the decision. Disbarment would ultimately have to be affirmed by the California Supreme Court.

“If the Order placing Dr. Eastman on inactive enrollment were not stayed, Dr. Eastman would lose his ability to make a living as an attorney at a time when other matters arising out of his representation of the former President of the United States … have already caused him to incur more than $1 million in legal fees,” his attorneys wrote in his request this week to the judge in California.

“The loss of income from the practice of law in the face of such necessity would be highly prejudicial to Dr. Eastman’s ability to defend himself in Fulton County,” they wrote.

Eastman says his legal fees could increase to $3 million or more as he faces a criminal trial in Fulton County, Georgia, in the state-level conspiracy case alongside Trump related to the 2020 election.

Eastman also told the judge he no longer represents Trump in election challenges, thus is no longer a threat to the public or his client.

To pay his legal fees, Eastman has continued to work as a lawyer after the 2020 election — picking up influential clients such as Republicans Gaetz and Greene as well as the Republican Party of Colorado in various lawsuits.

Until his law license was made inactive, Eastman represented about a half-dozen clients on constitutional issues, including relating to elections.

He represented the Colorado Republican Party in a challenge to the state’s open primaries. He also represented Gaetz and Greene in their lawsuit against local officials who cancelled their political rallies in Anaheim and Riverside, California, in 2021. A federal judge has allowed their lawsuit to move forward, after the cities attempted to have it dismissed.

Eastman also regularly pens Supreme Court amicus briefs for conservative-leaning groups.

Those prominent clients are now going to bat for him in his request to continue his legal work. The clients know of Eastman’s disciplinary fallout with the bar in California and still want him to represent them, according to a sworn statement Eastman provided to the judge.

“I write today to urge you to enable him to continue to represent me in that matter, so as not to compound one First Amendment violation with another. I have a right to the counsel of my choice, and I know there is no other competent, qualified attorney whom I can trust in this matter,” Gaetz wrote in a letter to the State Bar of California.

Greene’s campaign committee and the joint fundraising committee “Put America First” have paid Eastman’s law partnership about $25,000 for legal services since 2021, according to campaign finance records.

Eastman’s other clients also have filed sworn statements to the California judge saying they’d like him to still represent them, including the mother of a middle schooler whom Eastman now represents in a First Amendment lawsuit, after the child was asked to leave his middle school for bringing a backpack with patches on it that included the “Don’t tread on me” Gadsden flag, according to the court filings.

The disciplinary judge hasn’t yet ruled on Eastman’s request, and the California bar disciplinary prosecutor has more than a week to respond.

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Article Topic Follows: CNN - US Politics

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