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Chapman Faces Pressure to Fire Professor Who Spoke at Trump Rally

John Eastman, a conservative legal scholar who raised widely discredited questions about whether Kamala Harris could serve as vice president as the child of immigrants, is under fire again for appearing onstage with Rudy Giuliani at the rally that preceded Wednesday’s attack on the Capitol. Giuliani called for “trial by combat.” Eastman did not object and told the crowd that the 2020 presidential election was illegitimate.

Asked if he supported the insurrection, Eastman said via email, “What a ridiculous question. Of course I do not condone the violence at the capitol. But it was not a riot. It was perhaps a hundred thugs out of a quarter-million or half-million people.” Eastman also said that some of the rioters were “clearly Antifa,” even though the Federal Bureau of Investigation said on Friday that there was no evidence of that.

Eastman said he didn’t think the riot was “incited by anything I said,” either. “My short statement at the rally is verifiably true. It is a fact that state election officials violated state law in the conduct of the election.” Eastman’s statements directly contradict assessments from the Department of Homeland Security and other groups that the November election was the most secure in American history.

Eastman is finishing out a term as a visiting conservative professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder. The university, which previously said it would not take action against Eastman for his comments on Harris, said that it would not fire him for his statements last week, either. In statement, the university said Eastman’s comments in Washington were outside the scope of his Boulder work but nonetheless “baseless and unfounded.”

At Chapman University, where Eastman is the Henry Salvatori Professor of Law & Community Service, professors and students are calling for his removal. President Daniele Struppa said in an updated statement Friday that he can’t fire Eastman because the university’s Faculty Manual “does not allow me to decide on my own that any faculty is a criminal or that they should be disbarred and therefore fired, which is what I am being asked to do.”

Struppa said this is “the hard part of being in a democracy. This is the very freedom that we fought to defend as terrorists attacked our Capitol building. But this challenge is not new. Every time we are assaulted by terrorists, there are those who call for a suspension of the rules, for the elimination of fair process, for faster, quicker, more exemplary actions. I realize that my position has made me very unpopular with many of you. As much as that saddens me, it will not compel me to violate the rules under which the university operates.”

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