John Eastman, former Trump lawyer, pleads not guilty in Arizona election interference case

Former Donald Trump lawyer John Eastman pleaded not guilty in Phoenix on Friday on charges related to allegedly participating in a conspiracy to overturn the 2020 election results in Arizona.

A grand jury in Arizona handed up indictments last month charging Eastman and over a dozen more Trump allies for their efforts to overturn his 2020 election defeat, including the fake electors from that state and several individuals connected to his campaign.

While Trump is not among those charged in Arizona, the details in the indictment suggest he is “Unindicted Coconspirator 1.”

“I, of course, plead not guilty,” Eastman said following the brief hearing. “I’m confident that, with the laws faithfully applied, I will be exonerated at the end of this process.”

Eastman was released from custody without conditions.

Eastman is the first defendant charged in the Arizona case to appear in court and the others are scheduled to follow suit in the coming weeks. Among them are Trump’s former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, former attorney Rudy Giuliani, close aide Boris Epshteyn and Christina Bobb, the top lawyer on “election integrity” for the Republican National Committee.

Each defendant is expected to be fingerprinted and have a mugshot taken as they are processed, a source familiar with the matter told CNN.

Eastman’s indictment stems from being among those pushing fringe legal theories for overturning the 2020 election results and intimately involved in the fake electors scheme.

“This really tracks much of the same type of information and allegations that we see in the Georgia indictment and others,” Michael Moore, a CNN legal analyst and former US attorney, said Friday on “CNN Newsroom.” “And that is dealing with whether or not there was some forgery committed by presenting false documents and signatures, and that is the offenses that could be defined by state law, so you’re seeing state officials bringing these charges.”

The right-wing lawyer devised a multi-step plan for then-Vice President Mike Pence to overturn the 2020 election and advised Trump on plots to disrupt Congress’ certification of the 2020 election results.

The House select committee investigating the deadly January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol explained how Eastman put forward a legal theory that Pence could unilaterally block certification of the election – a theory that was roundly rejected by Trump’s White House attorneys and Pence’s team, but was nevertheless embraced by the former president.

Although Eastman wants to keep practicing law so he can represent clients and pay his own legal bills as he fights criminal charges stemming from the 2020 election efforts, an attorney discipline judge in California rejected a request from Eastman to reactivate his law license earlier this month following her recent recommendation that he be disbarred.

“It’s a serious charge, obviously, it can affect both the law licenses for those involved, if they are lawyers, as well as the liberty of them if they are convicted,” Moore said.

This story has been updated with additional details.

CNN’s Jack Hannah contributed to this report.

For more CNN news and newsletters create an account at