A judge in the Central District of California Monday ruled that former President Donald Trump and right-wing attorney John Eastman must turn over 101 emails surrounding the January 6, 2021 insurrection at the Capitol to the House Committee investigating the insurrection.
In January, the committee subpoenaed Chapman University, where Eastman was employed at the time the relevant emails were sent. In an effort to withhold the documents from the committee, Eastman challenged the subpoena in the Central District of California, claiming attorney-client privilege between him and Trump.
In response, the committee argued that the crime-fraud exception is a legal exception that permits disclosing communications typically protected by attorney-client privilege if ongoing or future crimes are discussed in the communications.
US District Court Judge David Carter found that the committee had sufficient questions about Eastman’s reasoning for blocking the release of documents. As he wrote: “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 will review the documents page-by-page to determine if the documents should be released to the committee. The court will determine for each document whether privilege existed, whether that privilege was waived, and whether any exceptions apply.
While Trump and Eastman have not been charged with any crimes, Carter found that Eastman’s reasoning acknowledges that Trump’s interest in overturning the election may be considered criminal. Carter wrote:
The illegality of the plan was obvious. 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 . . . Every American–and certainly the President of the United States–knows that in a democracy, leaders are elected, not installed.