Jan. 6 Committee Targets 37,000 Trump-Related Documents


Despite predictable setbacks from former President Donald Trump and certain allies of his, the House committee investigating the Capitol riot is continuing its rigorous work to expose the truth of the circumstances surrounding January 6. Now, Trump attorney John Eastman has claimed attorney-related privileges over a remarkably expansive list of emails ostensibly related to his work for Trump — the privilege claims cover over 37,000 pages of email messages. And the riot committee has objected to each and every one of the privilege claims, refusing to let Eastman — and by extension Trump — evade accountability that easily. Federal Judge David Carter will now be tasked with “a case-by-case review,” as POLITICO summarizes.

The emails extend back to around the time of the 2020 presidential election. Following that election, Eastman was involved in the formulation of harebrained schemes by which the ascent of Joe Biden to the presidency could supposedly be blocked, although the proposals he put forward were not grounded in reality or the law. Eastman, though, had the backing of then-President Trump himself, who promoted the extremist lawyer’s ideas to then-Vice President Mike Pence. The then-VP was a key part of schemes to overturn Biden’s win. Individuals on Trump’s side including the then-president himself falsely believed that, in Pence’s role overseeing the Congressional certification of the presidential election outcome, he could block Biden’s electoral votes. Carter, meanwhile, “must now determine how to parse these 37,000 pages in time for the committee to employ them in its ongoing investigation of Trump’s effort to subvert the transfer of power,” POLITICO says.

It’s Eastman’s attorney Charles Burnham who said that investigators “did object to every claim of attorney-client privilege and work-product protection that Dr. Eastman asserted with respect to his representation of former President Trump and/or his campaign committee.” Those privilege claims apparently cover 3,264 documents, spread across 37,650 pages.

Carter has already concluded that Eastman and Trump are likely — although not certainly — guilty of criminal acts in connection to their attempts to subvert the democratic process. The House committee looking into the Capitol riot argued Trump might be guilty of serious offenses including the felony criminal charge of obstruction of an official proceeding. (The proceeding in question would be the joint Congressional session to certify the election outcome.) POLITICO says that it’s a narrower expanse of email messages — including items sent from January 4 to January 7 of last year — that related to the judge’s conclusions about Trump’s likely guilt; the more expansive trove of email messages is apparently a matter separate from that batch. The riot committee originally argued that the possibility of criminal activity made attorney-client privilege claims irrelevant. Going forward, it’s unclear whether the riot committee will formally refer Trump to the Justice Department for prosecution — the move would not be binding on prosecutors. Instead, it would be a forceful and presumably evidence-backed recommendation for action. In the meantime, committee members are aiming to restart public hearings soon.