Copyright © 2022 Albuquerque Journal
SANTA FE – A state judge has ordered Santa Fe attorney John Eastman to appear before a special grand jury in Georgia this month as part of an investigation into former President Donald Trump’s attempts to overturn the results of the 2020 election.
Before issuing her Wednesday ruling, District Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer said judicial records have established that Eastman spoke with Georgia lawmakers about the 2020 election and drafted memos for the Trump campaign.
“I do think there is a logical correlation” between the grand jury investigation and Eastman’s knowledge of the events in question, Marlowe Sommer said.
The hearing was conducted remotely and handled by 1st Judicial District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies and a top prosecutor in her office.
She said Eastman was “not a target at all” in the grand jury case, but said his presence was sought by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis as a witness. Fulton County includes Atlanta and is Georgia’s most populous county.
“He has inside information about how all of this alleged interference in the election in Georgia in 2020 went down, and that’s what they would like to talk to him about,” Carmack-Altwies said.
Under uniform law, prosecutors can ask prosecutors in another state to assist them in cases involving residents in their jurisdiction being subpoenaed to testify.
But Eastman’s attorney Joseph Gribble of Albuquerque said Eastman would invoke the Fifth Amendment’s protection against self-incrimination before the Georgia grand jury.
For that reason, he said Eastman would not be a material witness and should not be forced to travel to Georgia to testify Aug. 30, even though his travel costs would be paid for.
However, Marlowe Sommer rebuffed Gribble’s argument that forcing Eastman to travel to appear before the grand jury was out of line, saying, “I do not think inconvenience rises to the level of undue hardship.”
Eastman has been a central figure in the U.S. House Select Committee’s investigation into the riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 of last year.
Among other things, Eastman drafted a legal memo that sought to build a case for ex-Vice President Mike Pence to overturn the results when electoral votes were to be certified on Jan. 6, 2021.
Pence ultimately rebuffed the pressure and certified results that showed Democrat Joe Biden as the winner of the 2020 election.
A registered New Mexico voter who has cast a ballot in every statewide election since November 2018, Eastman had his phone seized after leaving a Santa Fe restaurant in June by FBI agents who were apparently acting at the behest of the U.S. Justice Department’s Office of the Inspector General.
Meanwhile, other individuals who have reportedly been subpoenaed to testify before the grand jury in Georgia include former Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani and U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.