President Donald Trump in 2020
(Via White House)

Trump likely committed felony obstruction, federal judge rules in ordering emails handed to Jan. 6 committee

California lawyer John Eastman, who advised former President Donald Trump on efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election, is a central figure in the House committee’s probe.

Former President Donald Trump “more likely than not” attempted to illegally obstruct Congress when he tried to subvert the 2020 election on Jan. 6, 2021, a federal district court judge determined in a ruling Monday that ordered California attorney John Eastman to hand over emails to the congressional panel investigating the insurrection.

U.S. District Judge David O. Carter, who is based in Santa Ana, broadly stated that Trump likely committed felony obstruction of Congress and that Trump and Eastman likely engaged in a conspiracy to obstruct Congress.

“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,” wrote Carter.

“Eastman also understood the gravity of his plan for democracy …” the judge wrote. “The evidence shows that Dr. Eastman was aware that his plan violated the Electoral Count Act. Dr. Eastman likely acted deceitfully and dishonestly each time he pushed an outcome-driven plan that he knew was unsupported by the law.”

Carter was appointed by President Bill Clinton in 1998.

Eastman, who advised Trump on efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election, has been fighting to prevent the committee from seeing the emails. Carter found only 10 do not have to be turned over. Eastman must provide the rest of the roughly 100 emails.

Eastman sued to block release of the documents, which are housed on the server of his former employer, Chapman University in Orange. Nearly 19,000 additional emails are still under review. He argued that they’re protected from disclosure by attorney-client privilege and related legal rules, a blanket claim the judge rejected.

The committee argued that attorney-client privilege between Eastman and Trump would not apply to evidence demonstrating crime or fraud.

Eastman is a central figure in the committee’s investigation into Trump’s efforts to subvert the election results. Eastman wrote two legal memos arguing that Vice President Mike Pence had the authority to unilaterally reject electoral votes or delay their counting, which could have opened the door for Republican-led state legislatures to cast their votes for Trump even though more voters cast their ballots for Joe Biden.

The advice was disregarded by Pence and roundly denounced by legal experts when it became public last year.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.