John Eastman, the University of Colorado Boulders visiting scholar of conservative thought and policy, speaks about his plans to sue the university at a news conference outside of CU Boulder on Thursday, April 29, 2021.
Andy Cross | Denver Post | Getty Images
A federal judge ordered attorney John Eastman on Wednesday to turn over multiple documents to the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, including emails allegedly showing efforts to disrupt Congress’ confirmation of former President Donald Trump’s 2020 election loss.
The 33 documents that must be handed over are either not protected by legal privileges, or are exempted from those privileges because they are related to an attempted crime, Judge David Carter wrote.
Eight of Eastman’s emails were subject to that “crime-fraud exception,” according to the order in U.S. District Court in Santa Ana, California.
In four of them, Eastman and other Trump attorneys suggest that a “primary goal” of a court filing “is to delay or otherwise disrupt” the Jan. 6, 2021, congressional vote to confirm President Joe Biden’s electoral victory, the judge ruled.
Another four emails “demonstrate an effort by President Trump and his attorneys to press false claims in federal court for the purpose of delaying the January 6 vote,” Carter wrote.
“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,” Carter wrote.
They messages “are sufficiently related to and in furtherance of a conspiracy to defraud the United States,” the judge ruled.
Lawyers for Eastman did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment on Carter’s order. A spokesman for the Jan. 6 committee did not immediately comment.
Eastman, a pro-Trump former law school dean at Chapman University, was a key figure leading legal efforts to overturn Biden’s win. He penned a memo outlining a dubious legal strategy for Vice President Mike Pence to reject Electoral College votes for Biden while presiding over a joint session of Congress on Jan. 6.
Pence resisted Trump’s pressure to undo the election results, stoking the then-president’s ire and that of thousands of his supporters, some of whom chanted “hang Mike Pence” as they swarmed the U.S. Capitol.
The select committee in January 2022 issued a subpoena seeking messages sent from Eastman’s Chapman email account between late 2020 and early 2021. Eastman, who had previously declined to produce documents to the Jan. 6 investigators, promptly asked the Santa Ana federal court to block Chapman from complying with the committee’s subpoena for his emails.
Carter ruled in March that Eastman disclose 101 emails to the select committee that were the subject of disputes over legal privileges. In that decision, judge wrote that it was “more likely than not that President Trump corruptly attempted to obstruct the Joint Session of Congress” on Jan. 6.
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