Judge rules Trump’s efforts to overturn election likely criminal
Former President Trump and his legal adviser, John Eastman, likely committed multiple federal crimes in their effort to prevent Congress from certifying President Biden’s 2020 election victory, a federal judge ruled on Monday in a civil case involving subpoenas from the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection.
In a 44-page decision about whether some of Eastman’s private communications should be shielded from the panel, U.S. District Judge David Carter said that he found it “more likely than not” that the two engaged in criminal conduct.
“The illegality of the plan was obvious,” Carter, who was appointed by former President Clinton, wrote. “Our nation was founded on the peaceful transition of power, epitomized by George Washington laying down his sword to make way for democratic elections. Ignoring this history, President Trump vigorously campaigned for the Vice President to single-handedly determine the results of the 2020 election.”
Carter said there was enough evidence to find a likelihood that Trump committed at least two felonies: obstruction of an official proceeding, a serious charge that has been brought against hundreds of Capitol riot defendants, and conspiracy to defraud the United States.
“Dr. Eastman has an unblemished record as an attorney and respectfully disagrees with the judge’s findings,” Burnham said in a statement. “Dr. Eastman asks all persons interested in this case to join him in calling upon the January 6th committee to release all the evidence so the courts and the public can reach accurate conclusions about the matters involved.”
Still, Carter acknowledged that the case before him is not positioned to address who should be assigned responsibility for last year’s attack on the Capitol.
“More than a year after the attack on our Capitol, the public is still searching for accountability,” the judge wrote. “This case cannot provide it. The Court is tasked only with deciding a dispute over a handful of emails. This is not a criminal prosecution; this is not even a civil liability suit. 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.”
“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,” Carter continued. “If the country does not commit to investigating and pursuing accountability for those responsible, the Court fears January 6 will repeat itself.”
Updated at 7:04 p.m.
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