We're still fighting for accountability after all these years on The BradCast. So why should today be any different? [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]
We kick off today's program with a word or two on our 19th Anniversary of independent investigative journalism, blogging, broadcast, muckraking and trouble-making as we now officially enter our 20th(!) year of doing so at The BRAD BLOG! While I had some thoughts on all of that this morning at the blog, one point of particular pride remains the ongoing billion-dollar lawsuits by voting machine companies against Trump attorneys Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell (as well as Fox "News" and a bunch of their on-air hosts.) The reason for the pride is that no small part of the false claims made against Dominion and Smartmatic after the 2020 election by Trump's huckster attorneys spring directly from inaccurate interpretations of accurately reported exclusives at The BRAD BLOG many years ago, particularly in regard to American voting systems and Hugo Chavez.
By the time those defamation suits come to an expensive end, however, it's likely that both Powell and Giuliani will have been disbarred wherever they are currently still licensed to practice law. Just last month, for example, Rudy faced a hearing before the D.C. Bar Association where he is likely to be disbarred for the phony lawsuits he (and Powell) filed on Trump's behalf, falsely claiming fraud following the 2020 election.
Donald Trump's lawyers --- there are lots of them --- have been getting sanctioned in state and federal courts left and right over the past couple of years. But none, to my knowledge, have yet to be disbarred. That could be changing soon for both Giuliani and Powell. And, finally, as of last week, for John Eastman. He's the main attorney behind Trump's failed effort to have Vice President Mike Pence steal the election for him during the joint session of Congress on January 6, 2021, when Joe Biden's Electoral College victory was finally certified after the deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
Late last week, the State Bar of California announced that Eastman is being charged with "multiple disciplinary counts." He faces 11 charges arising from allegations that he "engaged in a course of conduct to plan, promote, and assist then-President Trump in executing a strategy, unsupported by facts or law, to overturn the legitimate results of the 2020 presidential election by obstructing the count of electoral votes of certain states." The Office of the State Bar's Chief Trial Counsel says he will seek disbarment of Eastman before the State Bar Court. This is serious stuff for an attorney.
We're joined today by former Utah Asst. Attorney General and former University of Utah associate law professor, MICHAEL TETER, who now serves as Managing Director for The 65 Project. The group, named for the approximately 65 failed lawsuits Team Trump filed after the 2020 election, describes its work as "a bipartisan effort to protect democracy...by holding accountable Big Lie Lawyers who bring fraudulent and malicious lawsuits to overturn legitimate election results, and by working with bar associations to deter future abuses by establishing clear standards for conduct that punish lies about the conduct or results of elections."
The group has filed ethics complaints against loads of scammy Trump attorneys across the country and, as Teter explains today, against elected officials who are also licensed attorneys, like Sen. Ted Cruz and Attorney General Ken Paxton, both of Texas, for their fraudulent legal efforts to steal the 2020 election for Trump and rob millions of Americans of their perfectly legal votes.
"It's a solid case," Teter tells me today, regarding the CA State Bar's case against Eastman. "There are no disputes about the facts, quite frankly. Everything that John Eastman was doing and engaging in in 2020 and early 2021 has been well-documented. Those efforts clearly violate the rules of professional conduct that every lawyer swears to abide by. There are no 'slam dunks' in this world, but I think this is a very strong case and the bar wouldn't have brought it forward if it didn't think so, as well."
We discuss how rare cases like these are --- or used to be --- and how much State Bars really aren't prepared for cases like these. It's one of the reasons, Teter explains, that it has taken so long to bring many of these Trump attorneys before the Bar.
"The disciplinary processes set up in the states are not set up in a way to protect democracy or protect the abuse of the legal system" the way Team Trump has abused it. Usually, he says, they examine one page complaints, where an attorney has overcharged a client or something. "The bars need to adjust their thinking and their approaches to make sure they are protecting democracy."
Teter argues that most of the cases brought by Trump and his attorneys after the 2020 election were never meant to win. They were simply meant to allow members of Congress and others to argue that the 2020 results were in dispute. "They knew they didn't have the law or the facts. They were using the court system as a political tool, as part of their propaganda."
"So when they lost these lawsuits it didn't create any disincentive to continue. They got out of them what they wanted," Teter explains. "These bar associations are not used to lawyers using the legal system in this way and they need to get caught up. They need to start thinking about the abuse of the legal system, the abuse of law licenses in this way."
We've got a lot to discuss today with Teter, including the remarkable number of Trump attorneys now facing court sanctions, disciplinary charges and potential disbarment. That, he says, has at least made it more and more difficult for Trump --- and his acolytes like failed 2022 Gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake in Arizona --- to find lawyers willing to represent them.
"MAGA has a new meaning now," Teter quips, "which is Making Attorneys Get Attorneys."
And finally today, as we're on the Trump Accountability beat again (was there ever a time when we weren't?), potentially good news out of New York today, where the Times reports that Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg has begun presenting evidence to a grand jury seeking criminal charges against Trump himself, related to his hush money payoffs to porn star Stormy Daniels in the run up to the 2016 Presidential election...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)