ATLANTA—The Georgia prosecution of former President Donald Trump and his allies is an attempt "to criminalize our rights" to listen to an attorney's advice about lawful remedies for challenging an election, says attorney John Eastman, one of President Trump's 18 co-defendants.
The case is already having "profound consequences for our system of justice," he told reporters on Aug. 22 outside the Fulton County Jail in Atlanta.
Stolen-Election Claim BelievedIn a new poll, a majority of likely Iowa Republican caucus-goers say they, too, believe that President Trump was the rightful victor of the 2020 election, not Democrat Joe Biden. About 51 percent of Iowans expressed that opinion in an NBC News/Des Moines Register/Mediacom survey (pdf) released on Aug. 22, the same day that Mr. Eastman was booked on 10 charges and posted $100,000 bond.
“My legal team and I will vigorously contest every count of the indictment in which I have been named, and also every count in which others are named, for which my knowledge of the relevant facts, law, and constitutional provisions may prove helpful," Mr. Eastman told reporters.
He added: "I am confident that when the law is faithfully applied in this proceeding, all of my co-defendants and I will be fully vindicated."
The remaining 17 co-defendants, including President Trump, have been given a deadline of noon on Aug. 25 to surrender or face being arrested. President Trump has said he will present himself at the jail on Aug. 24.
Democrats Versus Republican Front RunnerPresident Trump has also alleged that his presumed political opponent, President Biden, is working in concert with other Democrats to hobble his presidential campaign—an allegation that President Biden denies.
President Trump has now been indicted in four different cases. Two of them were brought by President Biden's Department of Justice. Two others have been brought by state-level prosecutors, both of whom are Democrats, in New York and Georgia.
In the wake of the indictments, 65 percent of Iowans in the NBC survey said they believe President Trump committed no serious crimes.
The Georgia indictment differs from the other cases because it involves the most defendants. Many of the 18 alleged co-conspirators served as attorneys or advisers for President Trump.
Mr. Eastman, a former law school dean at Chapman University in Orange County, California, advanced the legal theory that former Vice President Mike Pence was empowered to delay the certification of the hotly contested election. Lawmakers from several states made that request. But Mr. Pence refused, resulting in President Biden being certified as the winner in January 2021.
Mr. Pence, who is now running for president against President Trump, has denounced the election-fraud claims. But on Aug. 22, Mr. Eastman noted that Mr. Pence previously had described "serious allegations of voting irregularities, and numerous instances of officials setting aside state election law" during the 2020 election season.
No Judge Reviewed EvidenceAn attorney representing Mr. Eastman, L. David Wolfe, says a judge was never assigned to review a lawsuit that contested the Georgia election results, so the evidence was never probed.
Mr. Wolfe said President Trump was on a fact-finding mission when he made a now-infamous phone call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger on Jan. 2, 2021. During the call, President Trump told Mr. Raffensperger, the state's top election official, that he wanted to "find" enough votes to overcome the margin of victory tabulated for then-President-elect Joe Biden.
Some people have interpreted that phone call as an effort to pressure Mr. Raffensperger to concoct an undeserved victory for President Trump. But Mr. Wolfe said President Trump made the call "in an attempt to get to the specifics" that Mr. Raffensperger possessed regarding miscast votes, as a lawsuit alleged.
“There are defenses" to the charges that Mr. Eastman and the other co-defendants face, Mr. Wolfe said, adding that "there are specific allegations that we attempted to get addressed in the lawsuit that was filed."
Right to ChallengeThose defenses include "the law and the rightful opportunities that we had to challenge the numbers, and to determine whether or not there were more miscast votes than the margin of victory," Mr. Wolfe said.
"When we kept attempting to get the official statistics, as opposed to the ones that we extrapolated from past elections, we were unable to do that," he said.
After the proof is revealed in court, Mr. Wolfe said he is confident that his client "will be absolved."
The case is scheduled to resume Aug. 24–25. Additional dates are set for next month.