This article was originally published in The Bulwark on August 25, 2022. Read the full story here.
It only took 1 year, 6 months, and 18 days, but Charles R. Kesler, the intellectual impresario of the Claremont Institute, has finally gone on the record declaring that he does not agree with his colleague John C. Eastman’s discredited legal theories or with Donald Trump’s lies about the 2020 election.
Kesler is the founding editor of the conservative institute’s flagship publication, the Claremont Review of Books, and he is, as Elisabeth Zerofsky put it in a New York Times Magazine article about Claremont from earlier this month, “widely regarded, at 65, as the institute’s éminence grise.” (He is also a professor at Claremont McKenna College, which has no formal affiliation with the Claremont Institute.)
It is in Zerofsky’s article, and in a Washington Post article by Marc Fisher and Isaac Stanley-Becker, that Kesler at last concedes, after eighteen months of evasion and coyness, that Eastman and Trump were wrong. Here’s what he told the Post reporters about Eastman:
I’m persuaded that John was wrong in the advice he gave Trump. . . . Whether his actions will hurt us or not, I’m not sure. It’s awkward and it raises some questions.
And here’s what Kesler told Zerofsky: “I disagree with John. I think it was a bad idea to give Trump that advice and an even worse idea to speak at the rally” on the morning of January 6th.