The Jan. 6 select committee says its evidence has shown that then-President Donald Trump and his campaign tried to illegally obstruct Congress’ counting of electoral votes and “engaged in a criminal conspiracy to defraud the United States.”
In a major release of its findings, filed in federal court late Wednesday, the committee suggested that its evidence supported findings that Trump himself violated multiple laws by attempting to prevent Congress from certifying his defeat.
“The Select Committee also has a good-faith basis for concluding that the President and members of his Campaign engaged in a criminal conspiracy to defraud the United States,” the committee wrote in a filing submitted in U.S. District Court in the Central District of California.
In a major release of the panel’s findings, including excerpts of nearly a dozen depositions from top aides to Trump and former Vice President Mike Pence, the committee described a president who had been informed repeatedly that he lost the election and that his claims of fraud were unfounded — only to reject them and continue to mislead the American public.
He then pushed top advisers to continue strategizing ways to overturn the election results.
The panel released its findings as part of a legal push to force John Eastman, an attorney who was a key driver of Trump’s strategy to subvert the 2020 election, to produce crucial emails tying together elements of the scheme they described. The panel revealed testimony that offered a detailed account of Eastman’s efforts to provide a legal strategy that would justify ordering Pence to overturn the election single-handedly when he presided over Congress’ electoral-vote-counting session on Jan. 6, 2021.
Eastman, however, didn’t relent even after a violent mob — egged on by Trump — stormed the Capitol and sent Pence and Congress fleeing for safety. Eastman continued to press Pence to overturn the election.
“Thanks to your bullshit, we are now under siege,” Pence counsel Greg Jacob emailed Eastman, along with a lengthy refutation of his argument.
“The ‘siege’ is because YOU and your boss did not do what was necessary to allow this to be aired in a public way so the American people can see for themselves what happened,” Eastman replied, according to emails obtained by the panel.
Even after this exchange, Eastman made one final plea to convince Pence to stop the counting of electoral votes, acknowledging it would amount to a “relatively minor” violation of the federal law known as the Electoral Count Act.
“Plaintiff knew what he was proposing would violate the law, but he nonetheless urged the Vice President to take those actions,” the committee wrote in its filings.
Chair Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) and Vice Chair Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) said in a statement later Wednesday that their fact-finding strongly suggested that “Dr. Eastman’s emails may show that he helped Donald Trump advance a corrupt scheme to obstruct the counting of electoral college ballots and a conspiracy to impede the transfer of power.”
The select committee revealed its evidence as part of a bid to convince a federal judge to require Eastman to provide more of his own emails — held by his former employer Chapman University — to congressional investigators. Eastman sued to block the panel from accessing his Chapman emails, claiming they would reveal records protected by attorney-client privilege.
But the panel’s emphasis on potential crimes may convince U.S. District Court Judge David Carter — who has repeatedly ruled against Eastman — that none of Eastman’s records are protected by privilege.
Carter, who is based in California, has rejected Eastman’s attempts to shield his records, citing the urgency and significance of the select committee’s work. Instead, Carter has ordered Eastman to quickly review 90,000 pages of emails and attachments and to itemize any he thinks should be withheld because of attorney-client privilege. He has repeatedly sided with the committee’s demands, such as requiring Eastman to prioritize emails sent between Jan. 4 and Jan. 7, 2021, and to force him to disclose his legal relationship with Trump, which had never been publicly revealed.
But the committee indicated that Eastman’s purported relationship with Trump fails to prove he had a legitimate claim of attorney client privilege.
Eastman, according to the panel, produced a letter identifying his client as Trump’s campaign, but the letter was left unsigned. “This unsigned and unauthenticated engagement letter is insufficient to establish an attorney-client relationship during the period at issue,” the House’s lawyers wrote.
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