WASHINGTON — A federal judge has ordered John Eastman, the Trump lawyer who wrote memos arguing then-Vice President Mike Pence could overturn the 2020 election, to turn over about 170 documents to the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.
U.S. District Judge David Carter said in a filing Tuesday that while 440 documents are privileged, Eastman has to give the committee 159 other documents by Wednesday afternoon, which include communications from former President Donald Trump about state electors in swing states and the size of his campaign rallies.
The judge pointed to one email from Dec. 20, 2020, that he said included evidence of a potential crime.
"This email considers whether to bring a case that would decide the interpretation of the Electoral Count Act and potentially risk a court finding that the Act binds Vice President Pence," the judge wrote. "Because the attorney concluded that a negative court ruling would 'tank the January 6 strategy,' he encouraged the legal team to avoid the courts. This email cemented the direction of the January 6 plan."
Carter also instructed Eastman to also send 10 other documents to the committee that relate to three meetings in the first two weeks of December 2020 held by an unnamed group that backed Trump.
"Four documents pertain to a meeting on December 8, 2020: two emails are the group’s high-profile leader inviting Dr. Eastman to speak at the meeting, and two contain the meeting’s agenda," the judge said.
According to the meeting's agenda, Carter said that Eastman discussed "state legislative actions that can reverse the media-called election for Joe Biden." He said that another person gave an “update on [state] legislature actions regarding electoral votes."
Five other documents included the agenda for another meeting the next day, on December 9, 2020, which focused on a "GROUND GAME following Nov 4 Election Results" in which a sitting member of Congress discussed a plan "to challenge the electors in the House of Representatives." A similar meeting was held on December 16, 2020, and that meeting's agenda included a state elector analyzing "The Constitutional implications of the Electoral College Meeting and What Comes Next.”
The committee "has a substantial interest in these three meetings because the presentations furthered a critical objective of the January 6 plan: to have contested states certify alternate slates of electors for President Trump," Carter wrote. "The week before these meetings, Dr. Eastman sent memos to high-level White House staff explaining that the January 6 plan required legislators 'to determine the manner of choosing electors, even to the point of adopting a slate of electors themselves.'"
Eastman’s lawyer did not immediately return a request for comment.
Eastman has attempted to shield communications and information from the committee, arguing that that such documents are protected by privilege. Carter has been skeptical of many of Eastman's privilege claims and has already ordered him to turn over thousands of pages of documents to the committee.
Since it was formed last year, the committee has interviewed over a thousand witnesses, issued nearly 100 subpoenas, and obtained about 140,000 pages of documents related to its probe.