A federal judge said Monday that it is “more likely than not” that the former president donald trump committed crimes in his attempt to avoid certification of the 2020 election, and ordered the release of more than 100 emails from presidential adviser John Eastman to the commission investigating the U.S. Capitol insurrection.
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U.S. District Judge David Carter’s ruling represented a major legal victory for the House investigative panel as it sifts through correspondence from Eastman, the attorney who was advising Trump as he sought to nullify the presidential election.
“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.
Eastman refused to turn over documents to the commission, citing attorney-client confidentiality. The commission responded earlier this month saying that there is a legal exception that allows the disclosure of communications when it comes to ongoing or future crimes.
An attorney representing Eastman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The commission’s March 3 statement was its most formal attempt to link the former president to a federal crime. Lawmakers do not have the power to file criminal charges on their own and have to refer them to the Justice Department. The department has been investigating last year’s turmoil but has given no indication that it is considering pressing charges against Trump.
The commission argued in the 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. The former president and those working with him then spread false information about the presidential election results and pressured state officials to overturn the results, possibly breaking several federal laws, the panel said.