The House Select committee investigating the January 6 insurrection has alleged that former President Donald Trump, and one of his lawyers, John Eastman, were part of a “criminal conspiracy” to overturn the 2020 presidential election.
The details of the allegations were included in documents filed yesterday.
The filing was made in an attempt to persuade a judge to force Eastman to release hundreds of emails that he exchanged with Trump. Eastman has declined to release them, citing attorney-client privilege.
This privilege can be overturned if it can be shown the emails show communication about ongoing or future crime, or fraudulent activity.
The 61-page filing says, “Evidence and information available to the Committee establishes a good-faith belief that Mr. Trump and others may have engaged in criminal and/or fraudulent acts, and that Plaintiff’s legal assistance was used in furtherance of those activities.”
It basically goes on to allege that Eastman and Trump discussed plans to pressure former Vice President Mike Pence to invalidate the election—something Pence was not legally allowed to do.
It also says Trump was repeatedly told by advisers that he had lost the election, yet he persisted in pushing the line that it had been stolen.
It should be noted that neither Trump nor Eastman have been accused of any crime by federal or state prosecutors. However, House members have indicated the matter might be referred to the Justice Department, depending on what’s in the committee’s final report.
“The President called and met with state officials, met numerous times with officials in the Department of Justice, tweeted and spoke about these issues publicly, and engaged in a personal campaign to persuade the public that the election had been tainted by widespread fraud,” said yesterday’s filing.
“The evidence supports an inference that President Trump and members of his campaign knew he had not won enough legitimate state electoral votes to be declared the winner of the 2020 Presidential election during the January 6 Joint Session of Congress, but the President nevertheless sought to use the Vice President to manipulate the results in his favor.”
It continues, “The conspirators also obstructed a lawful governmental function by pressuring the Vice President to violate his duty to count the electoral certificates presented from certain States. As an alternative, they urged the Vice President to delay the count to allow state legislatures to convene and select alternate electors.
“The apparent objective of these efforts was to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election and declare Donald Trump the winner. In this way, the conspiracy aimed to obstruct and interfere with the proper functioning of the United States government.”
It goes on to discuss interviews with witnesses to Trump in and around January 6, who say he piled pressure on Pence to invalidate the result. It also details revelations from staff at the Justice Department. One, a former deputy attorney general named Richard Donoghue, said Trump wanted the DOJ to call a press conference to say it was investigating claims of election fraud.
“He wanted us to say that it was corrupt,” said Donoghue. “And this was consistent with some things he said at other points about. The Department should publicly say that the election is corrupt or suspect or not reliable. At one point, he mentioned the possibility of having a press conference. We told him we were not going to do that.”
Eastman has previously been identified as a conservative lawyer pushing a theory that Pence had it within his power to invalidate the election. When summoned for deposition by the January 6 select committee last December, he invoked the 5th amendment 150 times to avoid answering questions.
On Tuesday, the State Bar of California revealed it has been investigating Eastman since last September. It wants to determine whether he “engaged in conduct in violation of California law and ethics rules governing attorneys following and in relation to the November 2020 presidential election.”
To date, the committee has interviewed around 650 people as part of its investigation. Yesterday’s filing offers a glimpse into some of those findings … and it doesn’t look great for Trump.
At the time of writing, the former President has not responded to the Select Committee’s latest action.
Charles Burnham, Eastman’s attorney, said in response to yesterday’s news of the Jan. 6 committee’s filing: “Like all attorneys, Dr. John Eastman has a responsibility to protect client confidences, even at great personal risk and expense. The Select Committee has responded to Dr. Eastman’s efforts to discharge this responsibility by accusing him of criminal activity. Because this is a civil matter, Dr. Eastman will not have the benefit of the Constitutional protections normally afforded to those accused by their government of criminal conduct. Nonetheless, we look forward to responding in due course.”
It’s not been a good week for former President Trump. It began with his legal representatives filing an appeal demanding that he and his older kids, Don Jr. and Ivanka, don’t sit for depositions in the New York attorney general’s civil investigation into the Trump Organization.
Then he’s been roundly criticized for refusing to condemn Russian President Vladimir Putin for his invasion of Ukraine.
Speaking yesterday morning to Fox Business Network anchor Maria Bartiromo, Trump spoke out against what was happening in Ukraine but still refused to criticize Putin personally.
Asked if he could still show respect to Putin, given what was happening, Trump responded, “They have to stop killing these people. They’re killing all these people, and they have to stop it. And they have to stop it now. But they don’t respect the United States. So the United States is, I don’t know, they’re not doing anything about it.”
He went on to say, “This is a holocaust. This is a horrible thing that’s happening, you’re witnessing. I mean, you’re seeing it on television every night.”
Trump is given the opportunity, and he still won’t condemn Putin. pic.twitter.com/JpotWHoUHu
— Mike Sington (@MikeSington) March 2, 2022