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Three video screens show Donald Trump's face as flag-waving supporters cheer in front of the White House
Trump spread the lie that he won the election, called on supporters to come to Washington DC, then told them to march on the capitol to "Stop the Steal," but he says he bears no responsibility for what happened on January 6, 2021Image: John Minchillo/AP/picture alliance
CrimeUnited States of America

Trump 'likely' committed crimes to stop transfer of power

March 28, 2022

A federal judge has found it "more likely than not" that Donald Trump illegally tried to overturn the 2020 presidential election. The judge ordered John Eastman, a Trump lawyer, to turn over emails to investigators.


A US federal judge on Monday found it "more likely than not" that former President Donald Trump illegally sought to obstruct congressional certification of the 2020 presidential election in an attempt to overthrow the elected government of Democrat Joe Biden.

"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," said US District Court Judge David Carter of California.

Carter's ruling struck down attempts by former Trump lawyer John Eastman to shield communications between himself and the former president from the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6 Attack on the United States Capitol.

Eastman argued attorney-client privilege in justifying his refusal to cooperate. The Select Committee, for its part, argued legal exception allowing the disclosure of communications regarding ongoing or future crimes.

Select Committee says Trump and associates engaged in 'criminal conspiracy'

Monday's ruling on the committee's March 3 request represents a major legal victory on its most formal attempt to directly tie Trump to a federal crime. 

The committee argued to the court that Trump and those associated with him engaged in a "criminal conspiracy" to prevent Congress from certifying Joe Biden the election winner, committing several felony crimes along the way. 

The committee claims Trump and associates had spread lies claiming that he had won the election when in fact he had lost, then set in action numerous plans to keep lawmakers from certifying Electoral College votes on January 6 as laid out in the Constitution.

Among the avenues pursued, beyond a mass misinformation campaign, were the badgering of state and local authorities to contest or change results as well as Eastman's plan to have Trump pressure his loyal Vice President Mike Pence to simply declare Trump the winner of the election.

Communications to that end are among those the Select Committee is seeking from Eastman. Citing the fact that the "illegality of the plan was obvious," Judge Carter wrote that the former president's plan to overturn the November 2020 election amounted to a "coup." 

Judge: 'A coup in search of a legal theory'

In Monday's ruling Carter ordered Eastman to hand over more than 100 emails sent between he and Trump as the former president feverishly worked to entrench himself in office after his defeat.

"Dr. Eastman and President Trump launched a campaign to overturn a democratic election, an action unprecedented in American history," Carter wrote, adding, "Their campaign was not confined to the ivory tower — it was a coup in search of a legal theory."

The Select Committee does not have the power to bring charges against Trump — past Congressional attempts to impeach him also failed to garner enough Republican votes to punish the businessman politician — instead it must make a referral to the Department of Justice asking it to bring charges.

After interviewing more than 650 individuals, it is expected that the nine-member panel investigating what was the worst attack on the Capitol since the War of 1812 will formally request that Attorney General Merrick Garland seek federal charges against Trump.

More than 750 people have so far been charged for crimes related to the storming of the Capitol on January 6, many arguing they were there simply to help Trump "stop the steal."

US Capitol riot investigation

js/rt (AP, Reuters)

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