January 6 Committee Says Trump Engaged in a 'Criminal Conspiracy' by Trying to Block Election Certification

Jim Lo Scalzo/Pool via AP

How far can a president go in fighting the results of an election? As far as the law says he can.

Donald Trump — and millions of his supporters — believe that the 2020 election was stolen from him in several states. The president’s legal team fought the effort to certify those electoral votes until the legal process was complete.

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In the midst of counting the electoral votes, the Capitol building was breached and Congress was forced to halt proceedings for several hours. Eventually, the vote was completed and Vice President Mike Pence certified the results.

Was a line crossed in those legal efforts? Was there a “conspiracy” to block Congress from certifying the election?

A court filing in California alleges there was. The committee investigating the January 6 riots believes that attorney John Eastman, one of several lawyers assisting the Donald Trump for President campaign with legal challenges to the vote count, may have committed criminal acts and therefore, his claims of attorney-client privilege in testifying or turning over documents are voided by the “crime/fraud exception” to the confidentiality usually accorded attorneys and their clients.

Eastman and Republicans in Congress believe it’s a fishing expedition by the Committee because Eastman was communicating with Pence trying to convince him not to certify the election results, giving him several legal opinions telling him why he had the power to do it. Pence rejected those opinions.

Washington Post:

The court filing is the strongest assertion yet from the committee that it believes Trump and some of his allies potentially committed crimes during the effort to overturn Biden’s victory and by falsely stating repeatedly that the election was stolen.

“The facts we’ve gathered strongly suggest that Dr. Eastman’s emails may show that he helped Donald Trump advance a corrupt scheme to obstruct the counting of electoral college ballots and a conspiracy to impede the transfer of power,” the committee’s chairman, Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.), and vice chair, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), said in a statement.

There is absolutely no doubt that Eastman helped Trump advance the legal theory that the counting of electoral votes could be stopped. Whether it was “corrupt” or not appears to be up for debate.

As far as Eastman participating in a “conspiracy” to “impede the transfer of power,” the committee’s problem is apparently that Trump and Eastman didn’t just sit down, shut up, and accept their defeat without challenge.

Lawyers for the committee argued that the evidence it has gathered so far led to a “good-faith belief that Mr. Trump and others may have engaged in criminal and/or fraudulent acts” and that Eastman was “used in furtherance of those activities.”

There is absolutely nothing coming from the January 6 Committee so far — no statements, no writings, no speeches, no interviews — that would lead anyone with a smidgeon of objectivity to think that anything connected to this committee could be seen as a “good faith belief” in anything. In short, claiming “good faith” is a lie and a transparent device to get their hands on thousands of emails and documents for which they can spin up a justification for the committee’s existence.

This was more an effort to throw chum in the water and allow a rabid, anti-Trump press to go into a feeding frenzy for a few days than it was a serious effort to get at any concealed truth.

Former federal prosecutor Randall Eliason called the filing “a major development” but noted that “this is only a civil proceeding concerning attorney-client privilege. To prove the actual crimes beyond a reasonable doubt, prosecutors would have to meet a much higher burden.”

Meanwhile, Democrats and the media have already tried and convicted Trump and half the Republican Party. As far as proving “actual crimes beyond a reasonable doubt,” that takes second place to generating splashy headlines and convicting Trump of crimes that have yet to be alleged, much less proven.

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