Hours before a pro-Trump mob attacked the Capitol on Jan. 6, John Eastman, a conservative attorney and professor who challenged election results on President Trump’s behalf, took the stage to rally the president’s supporters outside the White House.

“We know there was fraud,” the Chapman University professor said to loud cheers, echoing the president’s baseless claims of mass wrongdoing in the election. “We know that dead people voted.”

His remarks at the rally sparked outrage from his colleagues at the Orange County, Calif., school, with scores of faculty demanding the university remove him from his role and the school president denouncing his speech.

On Wednesday, Chapman announced Eastman would retire immediately. In exchange, the school and professor agreed not to sue each other, although Eastman had accused the institution of defamation over the blowback.

“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,” President Daniele Struppa said in a statement.

In a statement, Eastman confirmed his retirement “with mixed feeling,” while continuing to echo Trump’s unfounded fraud claims and defending his appearance at the rally.

“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.

Eastman declined to comment further when reached by The Washington Post.

Republicans repeatedly made false claims about the election and encouraged unrest ahead of violent scenes in the U.S. Capitol on Dec. 6. (The Washington Post)

Eastman, who had taught at Chapman since 1999 and previously served as dean of the law school, drew national attention in August with an op-ed in Newsweek that falsely cast doubt on Vice President-elect Kamala D. Harris’s citizenship and eligibility for the White House. President Trump and his allies seized on the argument, which Newsweek later apologized for.

More recently, Eastman represented the president in a failed lawsuit requesting the Supreme Court to block four states from certifying Biden’s victory. A day before the Capitol riots, the New York Times reported, Eastman met with Trump and Vice President Pence in the Oval Office, where he argued Pence had the power to block Congress from certifying Biden’s victory.

At the Jan. 6 rally outside the White House, Eastman was joined onstage by Trump’s personal attorney, Rudolph W. Giuliani, who called for “trial by combat.” Eastman then repeated unfounded claims about voting machines causing election fraud.

The blowback from Eastman’s colleagues was swift.

The University of Colorado Boulder, where Eastman is a visiting professor, called his claims “baseless and unfounded” and noted he wasn’t representing the school at the rally. The university chancellor described Eastman’s allegations as “repugnant” but added he would not fire the professor, the Daily Camera reported. More than 700 students, faculty and staff signed a letter demanding his dismissal.

At Chapman, more than 160 faculty members and members of the Board of Trustees also signed a letter demanding Eastman’s removal. Struppa denounced his rally speech, adding his “actions are in direct opposition to the values and beliefs of our institution,” but argued he didn’t have the power to fire him.

On Wednesday, Struppa said Eastman would retire immediately and pledged not to go after the school in court. “Chapman and Dr. Eastman have agreed not to engage in legal actions of any kind, including any claim of defamation,” Struppa said.

Eastman, meanwhile, said he was retiring due to a “hostile environment” at the school due to the letter signed by his colleagues.

“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.


An earlier version of this article gave the wrong date for the attack on the Capitol.