Ex-Trump lawyer John Eastman wants to keep January 6 panel from seeing former president’s handwritten notes

Two of the documents Mr Eastman wants to shield from the committee include “handwritten notes” in Mr Trump’s own hand

Andrew Feinberg
Washington, DC
Friday 20 May 2022 18:13
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<p>Chapman School of Law professor John Eastman testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, on March 16, 2017</p>

Chapman School of Law professor John Eastman testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, on March 16, 2017

The ex-law professor a California federal judge said “more likely than not” violated US law while assisting former president Donald Trump’s push to install himself in the White House for a second term against the wishes of American voters wants to prevent the House January 6 select committee from obtaining documents that include handwritten notes in the former president’s own hand.

In a 50-page brief filed on Thursday, John Eastman claims to have communicated with Mr Trump through “six conduits to or agents of the former president,” and argued that his communications with those individuals should also be shielded because their involvement was “necessary” to facilitate his contact with the then-chief executive.

“While Dr Eastman could (and did) communicate directly with former President Trump at times … many of his communications with the President were necessarily through these agent,” he wrote. “Given that Dr Eastman’s client was the President of the United States, the use of these intermediaries easily qualifies as ‘reasonably necessary to facilitate the client’s communication with a lawyer’.”

According to Mr Eastman’s brief, three of the “conduits” were Trump campaign officials who had email addresses indicating their employment by Mr Trump’s re-election campaign.

He is also trying to shield two documents he describes as “communications from another attorney working with the campaign” to Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien, “outlining a potential legal challenge”.

Mr Eastman, who said he was blind carbon-copied on both emails, argued that they should nonetheless be privileged because Mr Stepien “was an agent both of the Campaign and of the former President as candidate”.

He has also asserted attorney-client privilege over 33 additional documents he describes as “communications among attorneys working on the Trump legal team either relaying confidential communications from former President Trump or discussing advice to be provided to him,” including attachments consisting of “legal analysis memos” or draft court filings.

But two of the documents, he said, “include hand-written notes” from Mr Trump himself, “about information that he thought might be useful” for the legal challenges his team was filing in hopes of convincing courts to throw out election results that did not show him as the winner.

The former law professor also wants to keep the panel from obtaining 12 emails between himself and Fox News personality Mark Levin as part of its probe into the worst attack on the Capitol since the War of 1812.

Mr Eastman claims the documents are shielded because Mr Levin, who he identifies as “an attorney, former long-time President (and current board Chairman) of a public interest law firm, and … a former fellow at The Claremont Institute,” has “collaborated” with him “on litigation maters … in the past,” and said the emails exchanged with Mr Levin were “communications in that capacity”.

Mr Trump and his allies filed over 60 separate lawsuits in the days following his loss to Joe Biden as they sought to overturn the results of the 2020 election, which Trump administration officials characterised as the most secure in US history.

None were successful.

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