Judge orders Trump attorney John Eastman to share his plan for coup

A federal judge ordered John Eastman, the attorney who helped concoct then-President Donald Trump’s strategy to usurp the 2020 election, to speed up efforts to supply Jan. 6 investigators with a trove of emails.

Eastman wrote a controversial memorandum that claimed former Vice President Mike Pence had the unilateral power to overturn Trump’s 2020 election loss to Joe Biden. In that proposal, the right-wing lawyer spelled out a plan to keep Trump in power despite have lost the election by more than 8 million votes.

The Electoral College decisively confirmed Joe Biden on Monday as the winner with a solid majority of 306 electoral votes to Trump’s 232, in an authoritative repudiation of the Republican loser’s refusal to concede or participate in a peaceful transfer of power.

Eastman was attempting to block the House January 6th select committee from obtaining 11,000 of the 95,153 pages a federal judge ordered him to give the panel last month by arguing that they are protected by attorney-client privilege.

Eastman, a law professor who helped craft Trump’s false argument that the 2020 election was stolen, subsequently turned over nearly 8,000 pages of emails to the committee while holding back about 11,000 pages because it is what he calls privileged material.

As an outside attorney working with Trump, Eastman pushed a fringe legal theory for how he believed then Vice-President Mike Pence could block the Electoral College vote in Congress.

The presidential electors gave Biden the same margin that Trump bragged was a landslide when he won the White House four years earlier.

U.S. District Court Judge David Carter, based in California, specifically ordered an expedited schedule to review efforts by Eastman to shield 568 pages of emails — all sent and received between Jan. 4 and Jan. 7, 2021 — from the Jan. 6 select committee.

Eastman is being ordered to produce documents he would rather shield from the committee before the January 6 insurrection to respond to a House select committee subpoena of Chapman University for his emails — setting congressional investigators up to receive access to information they’ve wanted for months but had not been able to get.

“The Select Committee has repeatedly noted the significance of communications immediately before and after the January 6 attack on the Capitol,” said Carter’s order. “Given the investigation’s urgency, the Court finds it appropriate to expedite its privilege review of the January 4-7, 2021 documents.”

Eastman previously refused to provide information to the House when it subpoenaed him directly for testimony and documents. He had claimed his Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination as a response to nearly 150 questions and to his document subpoena, a lawyer for the House said on Monday.

Eastman had tried with Carter to undercut the committee by arguing it didn’t have enough Republicans or the Republicans that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy wanted. But the judge decided Tuesday that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had followed House regulations in appointing members and “the Select Committee is property constituted.”

The House committee then went to his former employer, Chapman University, to seek his records. The university received a House subpoena last week, and Eastman sued to block it, pulling the dispute into the California federal court.

The select committee’s lawyer Douglas Letter objected to Eastman’s attorney-client privilege claims, arguing that the conservative coup plotter provided no evidence of a formal legal relationship with Trump, the White House or the Republican campaign.

The judge’s quick action is a step forward for the panel’s authority, which has been challenged in court by more than a dozen January 6-related witnesses.

It also sets up the likelihood that the select committee will be able to obtain communications that Eastman and Trump shared with others about the election, and other documents that may not be protected by attorney-client confidentiality.

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