Donald Trump appears to have committed multiple felonies as he sought to return himself to power on January 6th, a judge said in a Monday ruling that ordered Trump lawyer John Eastman to turn over hundreds of emails to the House select committee investigating the Capitol attack.
The extraordinary ruling marks a breakthrough and paves the way for the select committee to obtain some of Mr Eastman’s most sensitive emails concerning his illegal scheme to overturn the 2020 election, which he had attempted to shield from the inquiry.
"Based on the evidence the court finds that it is more likely than not that president Trump and Dr Eastman dishonestly conspired to obstruct the joint session of Congress on Jan 6 2021," ruled Judge David Carter.
Among the emails that the judge ordered Mr Eastman to turn over include messages forwarded to him by Mr Trump's attorney, Rudy Giuliani, recommending that Mike Pence, then vice-president, overturn the 2020 election and laid out a day-by-day plan of action leading up to January 6th.
Mr Trump and Mr Eastman launched a campaign to overturn a democratic election in a strategy that was unprecedented in American history, Judge Carter said, describing their scheme as a “coup in search of a legal theory” and directly spurred the Capitol attack.
Judge Carter ruled that the potential criminal activity between Mr Trump and Mr Eastman in the days leading up to January 6th meant one document was subject to the so-called crime-fraud exception to claims of attorney-client privilege and must therefore be released to the panel.
The document is an email chain forwarded to Mr Eastman by Mr Trump’s former attorney Rudy Giuliani that recommended the then vice-president Mike Pence reject electors for Mr Biden at the certification of his election victory in the 2020 election, the ruling said.
In the draft memo that advanced the plan to obstruct the congressional certification, the Trump lawyers transformed their interpretation of the Electoral Count Act that governed the process into a day-by-day plan that they knew violated the statute, the ruling said.
“Because the memo likely furthered the crimes of obstruction of an official proceeding and conspiracy to defraud the United States, it is subject to the crime-fraud exception and the court orders it to be disclosed,” Judge Carter wrote. – Guardian