Conservative Professor Retires from Chapman University after Trump Rally Backlash

Chapman University law professor John Eastman, next to Rudy Giuliani, gestures as he speaks in Washington, January 6, 2021. (Jim Bourg/Reuters)

Conservative attorney John Eastman will retire from his role at Chapman University immediately, the school announced Wednesday, after the professor’s support for President Trump’s efforts to overturn the election results sparked backlash among his colleagues.

Faculty at the Orange County, Calif. school demanded that Eastman, who challenged the election results on Trump’s behalf, be ousted from his position after he made claims that the election was fraudulent at a rally at the White House on January 6, hours before supporters of President Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol while Congress met to tally the electoral votes.

“We know there was fraud,” Eastman said at the rally. “We know that dead people voted.”

Eastman was also attacked on social media after users began sharing a video in which he can be seen standing next to Rudy Giuliani during the pre-riot rally and smiling as Giuliani calls for the election to be decided via “trial by combat.”

More than 160 faculty members and members of the Board of Trustees signed a letter demanding Eastman be removed from the university where he has taught since 1999 and previously served as law school dean. 

University President Daniele Struppa said Eastman’s “actions are in direct opposition to the values and beliefs of our institution,” but said he did not have the power to fire him.

Struppa said Wednesday that Eastman would retire immediately and had agreed not to pursue litigation against the school, though he had earlier accused the university of defamation. 

“Chapman and Dr. Eastman have agreed not to engage in legal actions of any kind, including any claim of defamation,” Struppa said.

“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,” Struppa said.

Eastman said in a statement that he was retiring because of a “hostile environment” at the school created by the letter his colleagues signed.

“These 169 (colleagues) have created such a hostile environment for me that I no longer wish to be a member of the Chapman faculty,” he said.

He also defended his decision to speak at the rally, where he peddled unfounded claims about voting machines causing election fraud.

“I participated in a peaceful rally of nearly (half a) million people, two miles away from the violence that occurred at the capital and which began even before the speeches were finished,” Eastman said.

One day earlier, Eastman met with Trump and Vice President Mike Pence and claimed the vice president had the authority to stop Congress from certifying Biden’s victory, according to the New York Times. 

Eastman also faced backlash at the University of Colorado Boulder, where he is a visiting professor. More than 700 students, faculty and staff signed a letter demanding his removal.

The university chancellor called the professor’s assertions “repugnant” but said he would not fire the professor, according to the Daily Camera.

Eastman previously drew national outcry over the summer after he penned an op-ed in Newsweek questioning Vice President-elect Kamala Harris’ citizenship and eligibility for the White House.

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