ORANGE, Calif. (CNS) - A Chapman University law professor who has drawn criticism for assisting President Donald Trump's attempts to overturn the presidential election result and speaking at a rally for Trump before last week's insurrection at the Capitol agreed Wednesday to a settlement with the university to retire.
John Eastman said he had "mixed feelings" about the agreement as he spent nearly his entire academic career at the university in Orange, where he was once dean of its law school.
Chapman University President Daniele C. Struppa issued this statement:
"After discussions over the course of the last week, Dr. John Eastman and Chapman University have reached an agreement pursuant to which he will retire from Chapman, effective immediately. Dr. Eastman's departure closes this challenging chapter for Chapman and provides the most immediate and certain path forward for both the Chapman community and Dr. Eastman. Chapman and Dr. Eastman have agreed not to engage in legal actions of any kind, including any claim of defamation that may currently exist, as both parties move forward."
Struppa was under pressure from faculty to oust Eastman, prompting him to say he could not because of the professor's tenure. A petition condemning Eastman for his role in filing a legal brief before the U.S. Supreme Court seeking to overturn the election results drew support from 159 faculty.
Eastman praised Struppa for "his defense of me in particular and academic freedom more generally in this recent controversy."
In an interview Monday, Eastman told City News Service he was undecided about whether to continue his association with Chapman.
"That will be decided whether I want to continue to work with these people or not -- it's an open question," Eastman said.
The 60-year-old Eastman denied having anything to do with the ransacking of the Capitol and he condemned the violence.
Eastman said he left the rally last Wednesday just before it ended and was back at his hotel room to monitor the election certification hearing in Congress as some Trump supporters breached the Capitol.
"What I said at the rally last week was true," Eastman told City News Service, repeating claims that votes were "flipped" on electronic voting machines, which a multitude of election officials have disputed and judges have dismissed.
"It's also not true that what I said at the rally caused anything that went on down the street, which started before the president's speech was even finished," Eastman said, claiming that members of the antifa movement infiltrated the rally to stir up trouble.
"We have evidence that the initial instigators were antifa folks," Eastman alleged.
Eastman said it's also "possible" that some of the rioters were Trump supporters, but he rejected "the notion that the president's speech or that over the last month we've raised questions about the validity of the election is itself incitement."
Eastman further contended there has been a "shutdown of any questioning of the election results."
He said the fact that multiple state and federal judges, including the U.S. Supreme Court, rejected challenges to the vote totals does not debunk his claims of election fraud. He argued that those rulings were on issues of jurisdiction and did not address the merits of the allegations.
"I, in no way, condone the violence that happened in the Capitol, and everyone involved should be prosecuted for the crimes they committed," he said.
Eastman said of the hundreds of thousands of Trump supporters at the rally, most were "enthusiastic, singing, dancing, and some were praying. They came from all over the country to participate."
He blamed the unrest on about "a hundred thugs," who should not be used to "define what was otherwise a fine and peaceful rally... particularly if some of those thugs were brought in."
As for the calls among Chapman University students and academics for him to step down, he said, "It's very interesting that people who claim they defend the First Amendment are working overtime to make sure I don't have mine."
Eastman said if his fellow academics "were truly colleagues, they would reach out to me" and ask to see his "evidence" of election fraud.
Eastman poured scorn on the educators who pushed for his ouster, some of whom "have published false, defamatory statements about me without even the courtesy of contacting me beforehand to discuss."
Eastman said he would now "devote my full-time efforts to the Claremont Institute and its Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence, which I direct."
Eastman drew criticism in August as well when he wrote a column challenging Vice President-elect Kamala Harris' eligibility for the office due to his claim that her parents were not naturalized citizens when she was born even though she was born in the U.S.