Jan. 6 committee to get more John Eastman emails showing possible crimes

By Zoe Tillman | Bloomberg

More emails involving Donald Trump’s former attorney John Eastman feature evidence of potential postelection criminal activity by Trump and his allies, a federal judge in California found.

US District Judge David Carter on Wednesday ordered the disclosure of eight documents that Eastman, a former Chapman University law professor,  argued should be shielded from a congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the US Capitol, citing privileges for attorney-client communications or legal work product.

Carter found that the emails related to criminal conduct, known as the crime-fraud exception. Carter earlier this year held that Trump “more likely than not” attempted to obstruct Congress’s certification of the 2020 election and engaged in a conspiracy to defraud the United States.

Trump and Eastman haven’t been charged with any crimes in connection with their postelection challenges to President Joe Biden’s wins in key states; there are pending federal and state criminal investigations. Carter’s findings don’t bind prosecutors to take action and don’t guarantee that either man will ultimately face charges, but the case marked the first time that a judge publicly stated that the former president likely committed federal crimes.

The long-running legal fight between Eastman and the Jan. 6 committee over access to thousands of pages of messages from his Chapman University email account had come down to 562 documents. Carter previously ordered the disclosure of several emails to the Jan. 6 committee based on the crime-fraud exception. Carter agreed with Eastman that most of the remaining contested emails were privileged, but ordered the disclosure of 33 documents, including eight covered by the crime-fraud exception.

Eastman’s lawyers Anthony Caso and Charles Burnham and a spokesperson for Trump did not immediately return a request for comment.

Read more: Jan. 6 Panel Claims to Have Evidence Trump Committed Crimes

Four documents from Eastman’s email account showed that the “primary goal” of Trump and his lawyers in pressing post-election legal challenges — including a case before the US Supreme Court — was “to delay or otherwise disrupt the January 6 vote,” the judge wrote. Carter quoted one email from an unnamed Trump lawyer that stated, “[m]erely having this case pending in the Supreme Court, not ruled on, might be enough to delay consideration of Georgia.”

In a second batch of four emails, Carter said that Eastman revealed that Trump knew certain voter fraud claims were “inaccurate” but pressed ahead with filing a lawsuit in federal court in Georgia that included that false information.

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According to an email excerpt quoted by Carter, Eastman wrote in a late December message that Trump “has since been made aware that some of the allegations (and evidence proffered by the experts) has been inaccurate. For him to sign a new verification with that knowledge (and incorporation by reference) would not be accurate.”

“The emails show that President Trump knew that the specific numbers of voter fraud were wrong but continued to tout those numbers, both in court and to the public. The court finds that these emails are sufficiently related to and in furtherance of a conspiracy to defraud the United States,” Carter wrote.

A Jan. 6 committee spokesperson also was not immediately reached.

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