This article was originally published in The Bulwark on April 21, 2022. Read the full article here.
When the Claremont Institute, America’s Trumpiest think tank, is in the news nowadays, it is mostly because of John Eastman, the institute senior fellow who wrote the notorious “coup memos” for Donald Trump. Last month, a federal judge ruled that Eastman and Trump were likely involved in a criminal conspiracy together. The ruling arose from a civil suit concerning Eastman’s claim that some of his documents should not be disclosed to the House Jan. 6th Committee, and the judge only opined on possible criminal behavior because it factored into the narrow decision regarding Eastman’s claims. Still, the ruling is an important reminder of what was at stake with Eastman’s work for Trump: nothing less than a concerted effort to overturn a democratic election and thwart the peaceful transfer of power, which, had it succeeded, would have brought on a major constitutional crisis. The judge ordered Eastman to hand over to the committee 101 documents he had been withholding, and Eastman has grumblingly said he will comply—although he now wants to withhold another big batch.
The Eastman saga has been the most prominent Claremont Institute-related drama in recent weeks, but it hasn’t been the only one. The institute’s descent into Trumpian trolling, conspiracism, and fringe extremism has continued to have bizarre ripple effects. It is worth taking a look at some episodes of the last few weeks and what they reveal about the institute’s character—and how Claremont’s leaders seem to understand that character themselves.
Photo Credit: iStock