NewsU.S. and the World


Judge finds Trump "more likely than not" illegally tried to obstruct Congress on January 6

Donald Trump
Posted at 11:12 AM, Mar 28, 2022

A federal judge in California on Monday ordered conservative attorney John Eastman to turn over a tranche of documents to the House select committee investigating the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, and found that former President Donald Trump "more likely than not" illegally tried to impede official congressional proceedings on the day of the attack.

In his 44-page decision involving the documents from Eastman, a former law professor at Chapman University who played a key role in Trump's efforts to reverse the outcome of the 2020 presidential election, U.S. District Judge David Carter wrote that based on the evidence, he finds it is "more likely than not that President Trump corruptly attempted to obstruct the Joint Session of Congress on January 6, 2021."

"Dr. Eastman and President Trump launched a campaign to overturn a democratic election, an action unprecedented in American history," he wrote. "Their campaign was not confined to the ivory tower — it was a coup in search of a legal theory. The plan spurred violent attacks on the seat of our nation's government, led to the deaths of several law enforcement officers, and deepened public distrust in our political process."

Eastman's legal fight with the House select committee came in response to a subpoena it issued to Chapman University for records, including emails, related to the 2020 presidential election or the January 6 assault.

Eastman, though, sought to withhold the documents from investigators, arguing they included information that would be protected under attorney-client privilege and attorney work-product privileges. He asked a federal district court to block the committee from enforcing its subpoena and stop Chapman from complying with the demand.

Specifically at issue were emails exchanged between January 4, 2021 and January 7, 2021, some of which Eastman attempted to claim privilege over, assertions that were rejected by the committee.

Of the 111 documents from those dates that Eastman said should be shielded from disclosure, Carter found just 10 contained privileged information and therefore should be withheld. The remaining 101 must be disclosed to the House select committee, he said.

"At most, this case is a warning about the dangers of 'legal theories' gone wrong, the powerful abusing public platforms, and desperation to win at all costs," he wrote. "If Dr. Eastman and President Trump's plan had worked, it would have permanently ended the peaceful transition of power, undermining American democracy and the Constitution. If the country does not commit to investigating and pursuing accountability for those responsible, the Court fears January 6 will repeat itself."

The panel had told the court in an earlier filing as part of the dispute with Eastman that it had evidence that Trump and his allies engaged in a "criminal conspiracy" by attempting to stop Congress from certifying the results of the 2020 election.