'The institute is badly damaged': Think tank behind John Eastman is reeling after sticking by him
According to a report from the Washington Post, the California-based think tank that was home to Donald Trump attorney John Eastman is reeling after having its reputation irreparably damaged by sticking by him after it was revealed he was one of the main architects of the Jan 6th insurrection and riot that shocked the nation.
As the report notes, the Claremont Institute in Upland was previously known for a staid "America-first, originalist ideology" as it pumped out position papers for conservative policymakers.
As the WaPo's Marc Fisher and Isaac Stanley-Becker wrote, the institute jumped on to the Trump bandwagon,with some misgivings in 2016, and some members are ruing the day after Eastman became a central figure in trying to overturn the 2020 presidential election -- and then the institute hesitated before disavowing him and his work.
"In the final months of 2020, he [Eastman] burst into the national consciousness as he helped lead Trump’s drive to overturn the results of the 2020 election. He wrote confidential memos urging then-Vice President Mike Pence to reject official electoral vote totals and went on former Trump adviser Stephen K. Bannon’s show to build support for his widely discredited theory. And, on Jan. 6, he rallied Trump supporters at the Ellipse before a mob stormed the Capitol," the report states before adding that he later "he fell from grace" and was forced to resign from Chapman University where he had previously served as the dean of the law school.
Until recent events overtook him, the Claremont Institute stood by him, at one time issuing a statement in support by condemning the “widespread lies peddled by malicious domestic political opponents” while complaining about the “blackout on the Claremont Institute or on John.”
All of that has changed now, the report states, as one former institute fellow lamented, "How on Earth does Eastman get to this point of being ready to jettison the Constitution?”It’s by pushing deeper into this idea of natural rights, which justify any means necessary to preserve the republic. … That’s how Claremont goes from this quirky intellectual outfit to one of the main intellectual architects of trying to overthrow the republic.”
According to Charles Kesler — a senior fellow at the institute -- "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.”
Ralph Rossum, who oversaw Eastman’s PhD work at Claremont Graduate University, claimed too much damage has been done.
“His reputation is in tatters, and the institute is badly damaged,” he stated before adding that some of Eastman's former admirers at the institute, "... are grappling with how to gracefully separate themselves from him.”
According to the report, one outsider thinks the institute will survive the reputational damage.
"There’s been a subtle retreat from Eastman,” explained David Swartz, a sociologist at Boston University, “but the institute is doing well despite the publicity about Eastman. Their network of influence continues to spread.”
According to longtime conservative commentator Bill Kristol, the Claremont Institute "saw Trump as a vehicle for their ambitions,” adding, "They always had a streak of radicalism, which could be provocative and interesting.”
"They had a big impact in legitimizing the demagoguery, the mean-spirited willingness to demonize outsider groups,” he suggested.
You can read more here.
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