(Washington, D.C.) — A federal judge on Monday asserted it is “more likely than not” that former President Donald Trump committed crimes in his attempt to stop the certification of the 2020 election, ruling to order the release of more than 100 emails from Trump adviser John Eastman to the committee investigating the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
U.S. District court Judge David Carter made the ruling. The House panel will be looking into correspondence sent by Eastman to Trump’s lawyer as he tried to overturn his presidential campaign.
“Based on the evidence, the Court finds it more likely than not that President Trump corruptly attempted to obstruct the Joint Session of Congress on January 6, 2021,” Carter, who was nominated by former President Bill Clinton, wrote in the ruling submitted in the federal Central District of California.
Eastman tried to hide documents from the committee based on an attorney-client privilege claim between himself and the former president. The committee replied earlier in the month by arguing that there was a legal exemption that allows disclosures of communications concerning ongoing and future crimes.
Eastman’s attorney did not respond immediately to our request for comment.
This was the most official attempt to connect the ex-president to any federal offense. While lawmakers are not authorized to press criminal charges, they can refer the matter to the Justice Department. The department has been investigating last year’s riot, but it has not given any indication that it is considering seeking charges against Trump.
The committee argued in the court documents that Trump and his associates engaged in a “criminal conspiracy” to prevent Congress from certifying Democrat Joe Biden’s victory in the Electoral College. Trump and his associates spread false information regarding the outcome of the presidential elections and pressured officials to reverse them, possibly violating several federal laws.
The trove of documents the nine-member panel has publicly released so far, which include some emails already retrieved from Eastman, offers an early look at some of the panel’s likely conclusions, which are expected to be submitted in the coming months. As it examines Trump’s violent attack on Capitol Hill, it claims it interviewed over 650 witnesses.
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