Trump lawyer accused of masterminding election subversion enters plea in Arizona trial

Phoenix, Arizona - John Eastman, the architect of the plan to subvert the 2020 election and return Donald Trump to the White House, denied all charges against him when he appeared in an Arizona court Friday.

Former Donald Trump lawyer John Eastman pled not guilty to charges brought against him in Arizona's fake electors trial.
Former Donald Trump lawyer John Eastman pled not guilty to charges brought against him in Arizona's fake electors trial.  © POOL / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP

The lawyer is the first of 18 people charged in the battleground state to appear in court over the scheme to empanel fake electors to support their favored candidate.

Others include Trump's former personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, one-time Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, attorney Jenna Ellis, and campaign adviser Boris Epshteyn.

Eastman on Friday entered not guilty pleas to nine counts including conspiracy, forgery, and fraud.

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If he is convicted at a trial currently set for October, the crimes could entail prison time.

Eastman told reporters outside court that the charges should never have been brought.

"I had zero communications with any of the electors in Arizona," he said. "Zero involvement with any of the litigation or the legislative hearings in Arizona. We will proceed to trial, and I'm confident, if the law is faithfully applied, I will be fully exonerated."

Trump's failed effort to overturn Arizona's election results

Along with Eastman, Trump's ex-lawyer Rudy Giuliani (r.), one-time Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows (l.), and attorney Jenna Ellis have also been indicted.
Along with Eastman, Trump's ex-lawyer Rudy Giuliani (r.), one-time Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows (l.), and attorney Jenna Ellis have also been indicted.  © Collage: Credit MANDEL NGAN / AFP & Credit John Bazemore / POOL / AFP & Brendan Smialowski

The House committee set up to investigate the January 6 events recorded that Eastman was the author of memos claiming that then-vice president Mike Pence could refuse to count electoral votes from certain states, thereby preventing Congress from certifying the results.

President Joe Biden won Arizona, a critical election battleground, by just over 10,000 votes, but many Republican Party officials insisted without evidence that there had been fraud and that Trump had been the real winner.

Despite Trump's loss in Arizona, his electors nonetheless signed documents saying he had won.

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When Congress reconvened after the violent attacks on January 6, it ultimately ignored Arizona's fake electors and certified the genuine results, officially sending Biden to the White House.

Arizona is the fourth state to seek charges against people who tried to form an alternative slate of electors, after Michigan, Georgia, and Nevada.

Cover photo: POOL / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP

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