Judge says Trump ‘more likely than not’ committed a crime when he tried to overturn the election

‘Together, these actions more likely than not constitute attempts to obstruct an official proceeding,’ Judge David Carter writes

Eric Garcia
Monday 28 March 2022 22:08
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A federal judge railed against former president Donald Trump’s attempt to subvert democracy, saying he “more likely than not” committed a federal crime, when he ruled that the former presidents attorney, John C Eastman, must turn over emails that the lawyer had attempted to withhold from the committee investigating the January 6 riot at the US Capitol.

Judge David Carter, who serves on the United States District Court for the Central District of California, made the comments against Mr Trump in his ruling released on Monday.

Mr Eastman served as Mr Trump’s attorney as he attempted to overturn the 2020 election results and drew up the infamous “Eastman Memo”. The memo featured a plot wherein then-Vice President Mike Pence would have interrupted the certification of Arizona’s Electoral College votes by saying it had sent “multiple slates of electors”, and then deferred the decision on the state until other states were certified. Other states the Trump team disputed would be set aside, which would reduce the number of electors to 454, with Mr Pence naming Mr Trump the president with 232 votes.

Mr Pence ultimately rebuffed the plan, which was why rioters yelled “Hang Mike Pence” during the insurrection. Mr Carter cited the plot in his ruling. Mr Eastman has, in turn, refused to turn over documents related to the election plot or the riot and has asserted his Fifth Amendment rights.

The former Chapman University professor had previously filed a complaint in the court in January and an application for a temporary restraining order against the university to prevent it from complying with a subpoena. Mr Carter also refuted the idea that the president and Mr Eastman had an attorney-client relationship.

“None of these documents includes Dr Eastman’s client, President Trump, as a sender or recipient of the email”, he wrote. “Instead, all emails are sent from a third party to Dr Eastman, and two of the emails blind copy (bcc) a close advisor to President Trump.”

Mr Carter in turn ruled that 101 documents had to be turned in. He also said that Mr Trump tried to obstruct a Congressional proceeding, which is a federal felony.

“Together, these actions more likely than not constitute attempts to obstruct an official proceeding”, he wrote.

Similarly, Mr Carter criticised the effort to overturn the election.

“The illegality of the plan was obvious. Our nation was founded on the peaceful transition of power, epitomised by George Washington laying down his sword to make way for democratic elections”, he said.

“Ignoring this history, President Trump vigorously campaigned for the Vice President to single-handedly determine the results of the 2020 election.”

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