John Eastman, a key figure in the effort to block the certification of the 2020 Electoral College results, appeared before an Atlanta grand jury on Wednesday, his lawyers said.
Eastman’s attorneys, Harvey Silverglate and Charles Burnham, said they advised him to assert attorney-client privilege and invoke his Fifth Amendment rights. The pair would not disclose what questions were posed or what testimony Eastman gave, but lambasted the effort as a means to penalize “disfavored legal theories.”
“By all indications, the District Attorney’s Office has set itself on an unprecedented path of criminalizing controversial or disfavored legal theories, possibly in hopes that the federal government will follow its lead,” the attorneys wrote. “Criminalization of unpopular legal theories is against every American tradition and would have ended the careers of John Adams, Ruth Ginsburg, Thurgood Marshall and many other now-celebrated American lawyers.”
Silverglate added to The New York Times Wednesday his client was “probably a target” of the ongoing investigation in Georgia, although he didn’t believe Eastman had broken any laws.
“I don’t think my client is going to be convicted of anything,” Silverglate told the Times. “If he is indicted, a motion to dismiss will end the case.”
Eastman also told the Times on Wednesday he never worked to overturn the 2020 race, but hoped to see authorities investigate what he called “illegality” in the vote. There was no evidence of widespread voter fraud in Georgia or elsewhere during the last election.
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis opened the investigation last year amid reports then-President Donald Trump called Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, asking him to “find” enough votes to overturn his loss in the state in 2020 to Joe Biden. That probe has since expanded and Willis’ office has homed in on key figures behind an effort to put forward slates of “fake” electors and undercut the will of the people to keep Trump in office.
Eastman was the key architect of that plan, spreading false claims about voter fraud in Georgia in December 2020, and undertaking efforts to prevent the certification of its Electoral College votes. Those efforts ultimately failed after then-Vice President Mike Pence refused to go along with them.
Prosecutors last month informed 16 Republicans that signed on as alternate electors they may face criminal charges as part of the investigation.
Willis has sought the testimony of several people close to Trump in his waning days in the White House, including lawyer Rudy Giuliani and top White House aide Mark Meadows. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), a key ally of the former president, has also been ordered to appear, but he is currently fighting his subpoena.
Eastman is at the center of several probes related to Trump’s effort to stay in office. The FBI seized his cell phone in June as he was leaving a restaurant in New Mexico, part of the Justice Department’s own investigations into the aftermath of the 2020 race.