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Conservative lawyer John Eastman seeks to keep 3,200 documents from January 6 committee

Trump likely committed obstruction, judge says
Judge finds Trump "more likely than not" illegally tried to obstruct Congress on Jan. 6 00:27

Washington — Conservative attorney John Eastman is seeking to shield more than 3,200 documents totaling 36,106 pages from the House select committee investigating the January 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol, he disclosed in a new court filing Monday, asserting attorney-client privilege over the records with respect to his work for former President Donald Trump and his presidential campaign.

Eastman told U.S. District Judge David Carter in the status report filed as part of his ongoing legal dispute with the House panel that investigators objected to "every claim" of attorney-client privilege and work-product protection that he asserted over the pages. Carter will now review the disputed documents and decide whether they should be turned over to the select committee.

Politico first reported the records Eastman is seeking to keep from House investigators.

Eastman, a former law professor at Chapman University, was the driving force behind the legal strategy to justify Trump's attempts to stay in office after he lost the 2020 presidential election to President Biden. The effort centered on a plan for Vice President Mike Pence, who presided over the January 6 joint session of Congress, to reject electoral votes from key battleground states won by Mr. Biden. Pence ultimately rejected the plan, arguing he did not have the authority to carry it out.

Eastman used his Chapman email account to communicate about efforts to overturn the results of the election, and the House select committee issued a subpoena to the school in January for records related to the presidential contest or January 6 assault.

John Eastman Lawsuit
John Eastman speaks at a news conference outside of the University of Colorado Boulder on Thursday, April 29, 2021. Andy Cross/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images

But Eastman sought to keep the emails from the committee, arguing they included information that would be protected under attorney-client privilege and attorney work-product privilege. He asked a federal district court to block the panel from enforcing its subpoena and stop Chapman from complying, a request that ultimately launched a broad review of the records sought by the House committee. 

Carter ruled in March that Eastman had to turn over 101 emails exchanged between January 4, 2021, and January 7, 2021, a more narrow tranche of records involving a key period for House investigators. The judge also found it "more likely than not that President Trump corruptly attempted to obstruct" congressional proceedings on January 6.

"Dr. Eastman and President Trump launched a campaign to overturn a democratic election, an action unprecedented in American history," he wrote in his 44-page decision. "Their campaign was not confined to the ivory tower — it was a coup in search of a legal theory."

The latest filing from Eastman revealing the more than 36,000 pages of emails he is seeking to withhold is part of the larger review of his Chapman emails. More than 94,000 pages met the select committee's terms under its subpoena, though nearly 30,000 were removed because they were mass mailings, according to the filing.

Eastman produced 25,319 pages of records, and another 231 pages in response to objections by the committee.

According to the court filing, Eastman asserted "various privileges" over 40,656 pages involving clients or potential clients, and the panel made no objection to his claims over 3,006 pages. Among the remaining 37,650 pages at issue, Carter reviewed 336 pages and required Eastman in his March decision to hand over the 101 documents totaling 315 pages.

The House select committee has objected to Eastman's claims of privilege over the remaining 3,247 documents totaling 36,106 pages.

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