Ex-Trump lawyer Eastman pleads not guilty in Arizona electors case

By Thomson Reuters May 17, 2024 | 2:18 PM

(Reuters) – John Eastman, the first of 18 defendants accused of illegally seeking to claim Arizona’s 2020 electoral votes for then-U.S. President Donald Trump to appear before a state judge, pleaded not guilty on Friday.

Eastman, 64, is one of several people – including fellow former Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani and former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows – accused of plotting to assemble a slate of pro-Trump electors who falsely claimed to represent the Southwestern battleground state’s legitimate electoral votes.

More accused individuals are due to be arraigned next week.

The case stems from the attempt by Trump, a Republican, and his allies to pressure election officials in several states to overturn the presidential election won by Democrat Joe Biden. The pair will face off again in the Nov. 5 election.

“I, of course, pled not guilty,” Eastman told reporters outside of court following Friday’s hearing.

“I had zero communications with the electors in Arizona, zero involvement in any of the election litigation in Arizona or legislative hearings, and I’m confident that with the laws faithfully applied, I will be fully exonerated at the end of this process.”

In the past several months, Republican officials and Trump allies have been charged in four states, accused of falsely representing themselves as legitimate presidential electors to be tallied by Congress in its certification of the 2020 results.

A spokesperson for Giuliani has previously criticized the Arizona prosecution as political. A lawyer for Meadows did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Reuters on Friday.

Trump is not one of those charged in the Arizona case but court papers list “a former U.S. president,” referring to him, as an unindicted co-conspirator.

(Reporting by Costas Pitas; editing by Jonathan Oatis)