According to a federal judge on Monday, former President Trump tried to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election, which may have constituted obstruction.
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‘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,’ David Carter, a U.S. District Court Judge ruled.
Moreover, it said Trump and his legal advisor John Eastman ‘dishonestly conspired’ to do so.
President Bill Clinton nominated Carter to fill a vacancy on the United States District Court in 1998. The Senate confirmed him later that year.
In 2009, Carter dismissed Barnett v. Obama, which challenged President Barack Obama’s election and ascension to the office as the litigants argued he was not a natural-born citizen.
On Jan. 6, Carter ordered Eastman to turn over 101 emails deemed sensitive by the House committee investigating the matter.
Ten emails were deemed privileged, though none were essential to the investigation.
Early this month, Carter announced he would examine the emails between Eastman and Trump about the 2020 election before deciding if they were shielded by the attorney-client privilege or should be revealed. At that time, the committee had cited Trump and Eastman for their involvement in a ‘criminal conspiracy.’
According to Eastman, if the judge concurs with the committee’s finding, ‘it may be the first formal finding of Presidential criminality by a federal court in United States history.’
There has been no criminal charges filed against Eastman or Trump in connection with Jan. 6.
Although the ruling does not directly affect whether Trump will be charged criminally, it may increase the pressure on Attorney General Merrick Garland to launch an investigation that could lead to charges against Trump.
The ‘coup memo’ was written by Eastman, which argued that former Vice President Mike Pence was unilaterally capable of overturning Trump’s loss in the election.
Eastman sent the emails between Jan. 4 and 7, 2021, from his Chapman University account. Chapman was Eastman’s former employer.
During his ruling on Monday, Carter cited Trump’s speech at the Save America rally when he said: ‘Mike Pence, I hope you’re going to stand up for the good of our Constitution and for the good of our country. And if you’re not, I’m going to be very disappointed in you. I will tell you right now.’ Additionally, he referred to the portion where Trump said: ‘[L]et’s walk down Pennsylvania Avenue’ to give Vice President Pence and Congress ‘the kind of pride and boldness that they need to take back our country.’
‘Together, these actions more likely than not constitute attempts to obstruct an official proceeding,’ the court records state.
The ruling also says Trump behaved ‘corruptly’ since he ‘likely knew that the plan to disrupt the electoral count was wrongful.’
‘President Trump and Dr. Eastman justified the plan with allegations of election fraud— but President Trump likely knew the justification was baseless, and therefore that the entire plan was unlawful.’
According to Carter, Eastman informed Trump that the Electoral Count Act of 1887, which governs the counting and certification of electoral votes, was unconstitutional.
In Carter’s view, however, that belief does not justify Trump’s defiance of the statute or pressure of Pence to circumvent the law.
‘Believing the Electoral Count Act was unconstitutional did not give President Trump license to violate it,’ Carter stated. ‘Disagreeing with the law entitled President Trump to seek a remedy in court, not to disrupt a constitutionally-mandated process. And President Trump knew how to pursue election claims in court — after filing and losing more than sixty suits, this plan was a last-ditch attempt to secure the Presidency by any means.’
In order to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court, Eastman could file with the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
According to a court filing from Feb. 14, Eastman has already delivered more than 8,000 pages of e-mails to the committee.
In a separate effort to shield more than 10,000 documents, the former law professor failed to block a subpoena for 94,000 documents of emails.
Eastman appeared with Rudy Giuliani at Trump’s Stop The Steal rally just before the Capitol riot, where Giuliani famously asked for a ‘trial by combat’ over the presidential race.
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The House panel subpoenaed him for his role in designing the ex-president’s legal strategy, which claimed that former Vice President Mike Pence had the authority to overturn President Joe Biden’s election.
Nearly 100,000 pages of online correspondence were requested from Chapman University, where Eastman worked previously. In addition, he was asked to appear at a deposition in person.
Eastman had unsuccessfully sought to block the release of the documents on grounds of attorney-client privilege. Eastman was instead ordered to examine 1,500 pages each day in late January in order to substantiate his privilege assertions.
All of this may be part of a Democrat plan to have Trump barred from running in 2024 by using the 14th Amendment, which bans people from holding federal office if Congress finds they have “engaged in insurrection or rebellion against” the Constitution. A majority vote of both houses would have to come to that conclusion, which Democrats currently have.