On Wednesday, a federal judge said that emails from John Eastman, who used to be Donald Trump’s lawyer, must be given to house investigators because they were part of a crime related to Trump’s plans to fix the 2020 election.
The emails, according to Judge David O. Carter, “indicate that President Trump knew that the exact percentages of voting fraud were false but continued to flaunt those numbers, both in court and to the public.”
The judge said, “These emails are related enough to and encourage a plot to cheat the U.S. government.”
While the two sides were still arguing over 562 additional documents from Eastman’s Chapman University email account, Carter, who sits on the federal district court in central California, had already given the House select committee looking into the US Capitol attack access to many of Eastman’s emails from around January 2021.
The so-called crime-fraud exception, which permits disclosure of otherwise privileged materials if the communications are related to or in support of illegal or fraudulent conduct, applied to eight of the more than 500 Eastman documents that the judge was reviewing. The judge said that the materials could be given out because they met the requirements for the exception.
Four of the documents were email conversations that explored prospective election-related legal problems. “Dr. Eastman and other attorneys believe that-regardless of the merits-the primary objective of filing is to delay or otherwise disturb the January 6 vote,” Carter wrote in them.
“Just having this action pending in the Supreme Court, and not ruled on, may be enough to delay consideration of Georgia,” Carter said in a new order. A member of Trump’s legal staff wrote this in an email.
The judge said that reading this email along with the other papers in question “makes it clear that President Trump filed certain cases not to get legal relief but to stop or delay the January 6 congressional processes through the courts.”
“The Court finds that these four papers are related to the crime of obstruction and help spread the word about it.”
The judge is requiring the release of four further emails because they “show an effort by President Trump and his attorneys to advance fraudulent claims in federal court in order to prolong the January 6 vote.” Carter cited a lawsuit Trump had filed contesting the Georgia election results. The judge continued by citing an email from December 2020 in which Eastman claimed to have informed Trump that some of the claims made in an early December state court election challenge were untrue.
Carter claims that Eastman stated the following in an email sent on December 30, 2020: “Although the President signed a verification for [the state court case] back on Dec. 1, he now knows some of the allegations and expert proof were wrong. It would not be accurate for him to sign a new verification with that information (and incorporation by reference).
Yet Trump and his lawyers later submitted a court complaint using the same false statistics, Carter claimed. Trump’s attorneys linked the state court election challenge to the federal complaint instead of disclosing the statistics. As Carter pointed out, Trump filed it without “rectifying, clarifying, or otherwise modifying” the false fraud numbers.
Trump also inserted a footnote in his federal lawsuit, which Carter described as an “effort” on his part to absolve himself of culpability for the false accusations. In the footnote, Trump stated that he was simply relying on the numbers that had been provided to him. However, Carter added on Wednesday, “His attorneys’ own admissions show that the information given to him was that the percentages of the purported voter fraud were incorrect.”
Carter’s statement that Trump and Eastman “knowingly” lied about voter fraud counts
Carter’s statement that Trump and Eastman “knowingly” lied about voter fraud counts in federal court will help the committee’s investigation into how the former President tried to change the results of the election.
The committee has asserted repeatedly that filing frivolous litigation to delay certification of the votes in crucial swing states was a critical component of Trump’s strategy to annul the 2020 election results. The judge’s decision is in line with this idea. At the same time that the emails were made public, the Justice Department and the local prosecutor in Atlanta also started their own criminal investigations into election fraud in 2020.
The judge ruled on Wednesday that Eastman must also turn over some of the documents he used to propose to then-Vice President Mike Pence that Pence interfere with the certification of the 2020 election on January 6, 2021. The new ruling ordered the disclosure of a total of thirty-three documents and set a deadline for doing so of October 28.
The committee said earlier this month that Eastman has been “consistently untrustworthy” in trying to hide his communications from the ongoing investigation and that the investigators should now have access to more emails from one of his work email accounts.