Six Minutes Of Fame In The Trump Circus
History has a way of turning obscure people into historic figures; Herschel Grynszpan, Gavrilo Princip, John Dean, Frank Willis, Hal Turner, John Eastman.
Bosnian Serb student Gavrilo Princip’s name was forever marked in history on June 28, 1914, when he assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, heir presumptive to the Austro-Hungarian throne, and his wife, Sophie, Duchess of Hohenbergat, at close range while being driven through Sarajevo, the provincial capital of Bosnia-Herzegovina, formally annexed by Austria-Hungary in 1908. Princip lit the fuse for World War I.
Herschel Grynszpan was a 17-year-old German-born Jew who moved in exile to France after the rise of the Nazi party. Grynszpan was an illegal immigrant and knew that if he did get a job, he would be sent back to Germany. Blaming the Nazis, the teenager bought a gun and ammunition and went to the Germany Embassy where he shot and killed Nazi German diplomat Ernst vom Rath. Hitler used the assassination to stir up anti-Semitism and soon Nazi brownshirts were smashing windows, burning synagogues and killing and arresting thousands of Jews in a pogram that came to be known as Krystallnacht or Night of the Broken Glass, the informal beginning of the Holocaust.
Frank Willis was an $80 a week security guard patrolling the parking garage at the Watergate office complex in Washington at about 12:30 a.m., June 17, 1972, when he noticed masking tape covering locks on a stairwell door. Willis’s curiosity led to the opening round of the then-greatest political scandal in U.S. history.
John Dean was the White House lawyer who languished in relative anonymity until he became the first administration official to testify before the Senate Watergate Committee that Nixon was directly involved in the crime and the cover-up and soon Nixon was bidding the nation farewell.
John Eastman and Hal Turner belong in the same breath but first, Eastman, who is the obsequious, little-known conservative lawyer who came up with the cockamamie plan to keep trump in the White House after his drubbing by Joe Biden. Trump didn’t know Eastman from Adam but saw the lawyer on a Fox News show, was impressed with him and soon had summoned him to the Oval Office to talk about the election.
Eastman eventually convinced trump that Vice President Mike Pence could reject presidential electors, handing the presidency to trump, a theory that virtually nobody felt was legal, other than trump and Eastman.
In an effort to show that his efforts were showing fruit to cancel the 2020 presidential election, Eastman told lawyers representing trump that the Supreme Court was leaning toward hearing trump’s case of alleged voter fraud. Eastman’s source was a story on Vision times, a far right wing publication that focuses on keeping Taiwan independent but also has reported on all kinds of conspiracy theories while being heavily supportive of trump. Specifically, Eastman learned of a report on Vision Times by Hal Turner, an obscure conspiracy purveyor who had spent time in prison. This was the source for information that was intended to sway trump to continue his efforts to upend democracy and install himself as a tin pot dictator.
Eastman’s efforts culminated in the Jan. 6, 2021, storming of the Capitol by trump supporters who were acting on the cheerleading by the ex-president. That day, prior to the attempted coup, Eastman was among the speakers at the “Save America” rally when he claimed that balloting machines contained “secret folders” that altered voting results, a totally unsubstantiated accusation, like the rest of the big lie.
Eastman was a law clerk under Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and is close with Thomas’s wife, Ginni, who, like trump, Eastman and the rest of the circus, insisted that trump really won reelection. It also remains unclear if Judge Thomas was influenced by his “stop the steal” wife.
When the dust had cleared from the insurrection, Eastman unsuccessfully sought a presidential pardon after one of trump’s top White House lawyers told Eastman that he may have committed a crime by hatching the scheme to put trump back in the White House. Eastman’s legal argument was full of baloney and went counter to the fundamental tenets of American democracy. Both Eastman and trump also knew that their plans were illegitimate but they pushed on anyway. Eastman testified before the committee but was not very cooperative, invoking the Fifth Amendment against self-incrimination 146 times.
Eastman, 62, was a professor and dean at the Chapman University School of Law in Orange, Calif., but he abruptly retired after his speech to the Jan. 6 trump big lie rally led more than 160 Chapman faculty members to demand Eastman’s removal from the university. Chapman University alumni include former Major Leaguer Randy Jones; Colin Lewes Hanks, son of the actor Tom Hanks; and porn actress Jelena Jensen, among others.
Eastman ran unsuccessfully as a Republican for California’s 34th congressional district in 1990, and for the office of California Attorney General in 2010. He is the founding director of the Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence, a public interest law firm affiliated with the conservative think tank Claremont Institute, which was an early supporter of trump’s big lie. Eastman is chairman of the conservative, Federalist Society’s Federalism & Separation of Powers practice group. He is chairman of the board of the National Organization for Marriage, which opposes same-sex marriage and gay adoption and has opposed allowing transgender individuals to use bathrooms in accord with their new gender.
He also is a director of the Public Interest Legal Foundation, which is known for suing states and local governments to purge voters from election rolls. The foundation chair is Cleta Mitchell, a nut job lawyer who helped trump to pressure election officials to “find” sufficient votes for him to win. She participated in the telephone call in which trump pressured Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to alter the election results in Georgia. He refused.
During the 2020 presidential campaign, Eastman wrote an op-ed which falsely suggested that then-presumed Democratic nominee for vice president, Kamala Harris, was not an American citizen and was not legally eligible to be vice president. Eastman claimed that Harris was not a citizen by birth because her parents were not permanent residents at the time of her birth. No legitimate scholars agreed with Eastman and compared it to the debunked birtherism theory that President Barack Obama was not a U.S. citizen and was unqualified to be president, a position that was strongly endorsed by trump. Eastman did not express the same concerns about right wing, conservative Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who was a presidential candidate in 2016 and was born in Canada.
On Oct. 4, 2021, a bipartisan group of attorneys, including two former federal judges and two former justices of the California Supreme Court, filed a complaint with the State Bar of California asking for an investigation of Eastman relating to “his representation of former President Donald J. Trump in efforts to discredit and overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.”
In May 2022, the University of Colorado, where Eastman was a visiting professor, released an email that Eastman sent to Pennsylvania Republican State Rep. Russ Diamond in December 2020. In the email, Eastman described a plan by which the Pennsylvania legislature could act to reverse Biden’s victory in the state and declare trump the winner.
Diamond is another of those nobodys who desperately sought to be somebody or at least a footnote.
Diamond, 58, ran for office six times and lost every time before he was elected in 2014 to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. His work history includes owning a computer business and a media production company before he drove a truck.
In 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic, Diamond opposed public-health measures to prevent the spread of the virus. His almost moment of fame nearly qualified under Andy Warhol’s definition of fame. He received an email from Eastman on Dec. 4,2020, with instructions for a bogus plot to get the state Legislature to award the state’s electoral votes on trump. Never mind that trump lost the state by more than 80,000 votes. Diamond was one of 26 Pennsylvania House Republicans who called for the state’s certification of presidential electors to be withdrawn and supported a resolution calling on Congress to consider Pennsylvania electors to be “in dispute.”
Two women were granted protection from abuse orders against Diamond in 2002 and 2013. One woman claimed Diamond “pushed her in the face seven times and scratched her under an eye” and “threatened to kill her if she disconnected the cable.” The second woman told the courts that when she wouldn’t leave his apartment, “he knocked her down and dragged her to the doorway.” Diamond was later fined $200 for violating the second order. His response to calls for him to withdraw from the race for the state House of Representatives was that “all is fair in love, war and politics” and “Let’s not cherry-pick just to make the other guy look bad.” In fall 2015, Diamond was cited for public drunkenness in Annville Township and he later acknowledged his alcoholism.
Eastman’s claims about the Supreme Court being divided over hearing trump’s election fraud claims came from fringe-right radio host Hal Turner as reported by Vision Times. Vision Times and its parent, Epoch Times were founded in 2001 by a group of Chinese-American Falun Gong practitioners “to provide the overseas Chinese-speaking community information free from the “one voice” propaganda of the Chinese Communist Party.”
The Falun Gong movement claims to have millions of adherents and is intensely anti-Communist. Believers are asked to abandon lust, greed, alcohol, and other worldly “attachments.” The movement distrusts medical doctors and believes aliens roam the earth, creating destructive technologies. In 1999, the Chinese government concluded that Falun Gong was growing too popular and suppressed the movement, which it called a cult.
Both publications push pro-trump conspiracy theories. Media Bias/Fact Check described Epoch Times as a “right wing biased, conservative platform with low credibility and reliability.”
NBC News reported that most Epoch Times articles praise Trump or denigrate the left, such as a false story that trump had 232 electoral votes; Biden had 212, 226, or 227, all false or another titled “Five Reasons Trump’s Celebration of America Was Epic Display of Patriotism.” Epoch Times and related outlets have profited handsomely in the trump years, receiving more than $1.5 million for about 11,000 pro-Trump advertisements in the last six months of 2020.
“Overall, we rate The Epoch Times Right Biased and Questionable based on the publication of pseudoscience and the promotion of propaganda and conspiracy theories, as well as numerous failed fact checks,” the fact check reported.
The Epoch Times is the most popular Apple newspaper app in the country, ahead of The New York Times in second place. On Dec. 20, 2019, Facebook took down more than 600 accounts connected to The Epoch Times for allegedly using fake photos.
Turner claimed he got his information from “a source deep inside the U.S. Supreme Court” who allegedly overhead a meeting in which Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. refused to hear the voter fraud case due to concerns about violence and in which Justice Thomas replied that the situation was “the end of Democracy.” It never happened.
Turner, 60, reports on Holocaust denial, white supremacy and has called for assassination of government officials. In August 2010, he was convicted of making threats against three federal judges with the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, for which he spent two years in prison. A former truck driver, Turner has hosted The Hal Turner Show, usually on shortwave radio station WBCQ, as well as a corresponding blog, which has spread hoaxes and fake news. Turner was known on conservative talk shows and was the northern New Jersey coordinator for Patrick J. Buchanan’s 1992 presidential campaign.
Turner ran for the GOP nomination for Congress in 2000 and received 18.6 percent of the vote.
In response to an Oct. 7, 2005, assault against a white student by a Black student at Kingston High School, Turner and the white nationalist group “National Vanguard” organized a rally he characterized as both “pro-white” and “against violence.” On July 28, 2009, in a Chicago courtroom, Turner’s defense lawyer said that Turner worked as a paid informant for the FBI for several years, supplying information about right-wing groups to federal agents.
Turner has a history of making threats against various public figures. In 2005, he named three federal court judges who handled lawsuits involving Matt Hale, a white supremacist convicted of soliciting the murder of a federal judge. Turner posted the judges’ names and addresses on his Web site. On April 4, 2008, Turner encouraged violence against Lexington, Mass., School Superintendent Paul Ash for establishing a new curriculum supporting homosexuals.
On June 3, 2009, Turner was arrested in New Jersey and charged with inciting injury to two politicians in Connecticut and a state ethics official. He was convicted and imprisoned but was acquitted on a later appeal.