'Paranoid and reckless' manifesto from ex-Trump attorney could lead to 'political violence': former White House official

In a column for the conservative Bulwark, a former White House official who served for eight years under George W. Bush accused an attorney who spoke at the Jan 6th "Save America" rally that led to the storming of the U.S. Capitol of trying to foment more violence with a states' rights manifesto published days ago.

John Eastman -- a Donald Trump-supporting lawyer who lost his job as dean of Chapman University Law School after the insurrection attempt -- wrote a piece entitled "How States Could Constitutionally Assume Abandoned Responsibilities of the National Government" along with conservative scholar Stephen Balch for the American Greatness website.

The Bulwark called the piece "The Seditionist's Cookbook" -- likely a pointed nod to the infamous "The Anarchist's Cookbook" published in 1971.

In his Bulwark column, Christian Vanderbrouk began by positing, "Is violence an essential element of the populist right's political agenda? To claim otherwise has become increasingly difficult," before concluding that Eastman and Balch seemed to be laying the philosophic groundwork for more violence.

Summing up Eastman and Balch's piece, Vanderbrouk began, "They begin by claiming that the quarantines and mask orders of the last 18 months have been 'an exercise of state 'police powers' on a scale and scope unprecedented in America's peacetime history. This isn't true, of course. The enforcement of Jim Crow laws and the eventual enforcement of desegregation—just to pick two obvious examples—were much larger expansions of state police power, deployed to opposing sides of the same issue."

According to Eastman and Balch, as Vanderbrouk wrote, "Instead, they see quarantines and mask orders as a useful precedent for an even greater expansion of state police powers, saying that their goal is 'to point out what such robust assertions of police powers could achieve, constitutionally and politically, if put to different and more legitimate ends,'" with the columnist calling their suggestions, "a paranoid and reckless power fantasy that, if pursued, would assuredly lead to political violence, if not open civil conflict."

Accusing the essayists of giving "lip service to the U.S. Constitution," Vanderbroupk wrote, "They accuse the federal government of 'revolutionary' behavior and 'top-down sedition.' These are better understood as admissions. Eastman and Balch are grasping for a permission structure to respond in kind."

"What makes Eastman and Balch so remarkable is that they're declaring their seditionist agenda openly. While every lawyer with a bar card swears an oath to 'defend the U.S. Constitution, in all ways, at all times,' Eastman's commitment to the Constitution seems, at best, to be highly subjective" he explained. "Eastman, Balch and their confederates have made a bet that mainstream conservatives are too intimidated to raise much of a fuss during the planning stages and that if they get the chaos they're hoping for, their faint-hearted brethren will fall in line behind calls for an 'American Caesar' to restore the law and order that they cynically undermined."

"And maybe they're right. Maybe GOP leaders deserve their reputation as decadent, late-republic pushovers. After all, if they'll tolerate this from their fellow travelers, what wouldn't they tolerate?" he lamented.

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