CU regents call John Eastman “an embarrassment” after criminal referral

The chair of the University of Colorado’s Board of Regents called John Eastman “an embarrassment” Monday and said the elected board respects the ability of the Justice Department to weigh the Jan. 6 committee’s request that the attorney be prosecuted in connection with the Capitol insurrection.

Eastman was employed by CU Boulder as the visiting scholar of conservative thought and policy at the Bruce D. Benson Center for the Study of Western Civilization while he was advising President Donald Trump on how to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

On Monday, the House Jan. 6 committee recommended to the Department of Justice that Trump be charged with violating four criminal statutes, including aiding an insurrection, and that Eastman be prosecuted on two of the same statutes as Trump: conspiracy to defraud the United States and obstructing an official proceeding.

When asked for comment on the criminal referral of Eastman, CU Boulder officials pointed to Chancellor Phil DiStefano’s statement made the day after the Capitol riot, in which he said Eastman’s “continued advocacy of conspiracy theories is repugnant, and he will bear the shame for his role in undermining confidence in the rule of law.”

CU Regent Chair Lesley Smith, an at-large Democrat, issued a new statement Monday on behalf of the university’s governing board:

“John Eastman has not been affiliated with CU for some 20 months. As CU Boulder Chancellor Philip DiStefano clearly noted immediately following the Jan. 6 riot, Eastman’s conduct in the weeks preceding Jan. 6 and on that day was shameful and it certainly does not reflect CU’s values. He is an embarrassment. We respect both the January 6 Committee’s right to make a referral to the Justice Department and the department’s ability to evaluate the evidence and determine whether to seek charges against him.”

Eastman has been under scrutiny for his role in advising Trump on how to stay in power after losing the 2020 presidential election.  A federal judge in California ruled in March that Trump and Eastman likely committed crimes in their efforts to overturn the election.

As a lawyer representing Trump following the president’s 2020 loss, Eastman used his CU email account to advise Pennsylvania lawmaker Rep. Russ Diamond on how to challenge that state’s electors, according to records submitted to Congress by the Colorado Ethics Institute.

In those emails, Eastman offered edits to legislative resolutions and suggested ways in which Pennsylvania lawmakers could seat an alternate set of electors after Joe Biden won the state — and with it, the presidency — in the 2020 election.

Eastman, who spoke at Trump’s rally before the attack on the Capitol, was relieved of his public-facing duties at CU Boulder following Jan. 6, 2021, and was no longer affiliated with the university following the end of his one-year appointment, for which he was paid a privately funded $185,000 salary.

His photo on the Benson Center’s website has been removed and his biography simply reads: “John Eastman was the Visiting Scholar in Conservative Thought and Policy for the 2020-21 academic year.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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