National Security

Trump memo drafter claims executive privilege over 11,000 documents sought by Jan. 6 panel

The drafter of two memos to the Trump campaign outlining a strategy for denying President Biden’s election victory is seeking to withhold more than 11,000 pages of his emails from the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.

John Eastman, a Chapman University professor who was subpoenaed by the panel in November, said in a Sunday filing he completed a court-ordered review of roughly half his email trove, some 46,000 pages, and found those emails should be covered by attorney-client privilege.

Eastman advised the Trump campaign both to use invented vice presidential authority to push back on election results and to get state legislatures to reject electors from certain states in order to deny President Biden a majority of the Electoral College vote.

Those memos became a blueprint for the Trump team in eyeing Congress and the states as avenues for unwinding the election, likely igniting Trump’s focus on having former Vice President Mike Pence buck the ceremonial duty of certifying the 2020 election results.

A judge ordered Eastman to review 1,500 pages of his emails per day after Eastman sued the committee in an effort to broadly block its access to his communications, which include more than 94,000 emails.

The filing, first reported by Politico, says Eastman has turned over 8,000 pages of documents to the committee, while his attorneys and the committee agreed to exclude 26,000 emails coming from a lengthy list of Republican listservs for various campaigns and from politicians and Trump associates.

While Eastman is thus far hoping to shield more than 11,000 pages of his emails, that figure will likely grow as he proceeds to review the remaining nearly 48,000 emails. 

The committee has previously complained that Eastman “has not provided sufficient information to determine the validity of Plaintiff’s privilege assertions,” its lawyer wrote in a Friday filing.

Eastman is one of several attorneys that has sought to defy the committee with attorney-client privilege claims.

But the privilege does not cover all communications with clients, particularly any legal advice given in the process of committing or with the intention of committing a crime or fraudulent act.

Tags Joe Biden Mike Pence

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