The Select House Committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol said this week for the first time that former President Donald Trump and his associates appeared to have committed crimes during their failed effort to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.
“The Select Committee also has a good-faith basis for concluding that the President and members of his Campaign engaged in a criminal conspiracy to defraud the United States,” the committee asserted in a brief filed in U.S. District Court in the Central District of California.
Many have said Trump and his conspirators attempted to stage a coup d’état to stop Congress from certifying Democrat Joe Biden’s victory in the Electoral College, but this is the first time that the House committee said as much.
The criminal allegations were raised by the committee in a federal court filing challenging conservative lawyer John Eastman’s refusal to turn over thousands of emails investigators subpoenaed related to his role in trying to convince Vice President Mike Pence to reject electors from states won by Joe Biden.
Eastman has cited attorney-client privilege instead of turning over the documents because he has said he was representing Trump at the time.
The committee argued that Eastman’s claim of privilege was voided by the “crime/fraud exception” to the confidentiality usually accorded attorneys and their clients, which holds that communications need not be kept confidential if an attorney is found to be assisting their client in the commission of a crime.
Congressional invesigators asked the judge deciding whether to release the lawyer’s emails to privately review evidence they have so far gathered to see that it establishes Eastman was aiding Trump in the commission of crimes that strike at the heart of our democracy.
Trump and those working with him spread false information about the outcome of the presidential election and pressured state officials to overturn the results, potentially violating multiple federal laws, the panel said.