A federal judge ruled Monday that President Donald Trump “more likely than not” attempted to illegally obstruct Congress as part of a criminal conspiracy when he tried to subvert the 2020 election on Jan. 6, 2021.
U.S. District Court Judge David Carter (Clinton) made the determination in a ruling that ordered 101 sensitive emails from Trump ally John Eastman be turned over to the House’s Jan. 6 select committee. Eastman used the email account of his former employer, Chapman University, to discuss political and legal strategy related to efforts to overturn the 2020 election.
Carter said that the plan Eastman helped develop was obviously illegal and that Trump knew it at the time.
The judge said “Based on the evidence, the Court finds it more likely than not that President Trump corruptly attempted to obstruct the Joint Session of Congress on January 6, 2021.”
“The illegality of the plan was obvious,” Carter, who was appointed by former President Clinton, wrote. “Our nation was founded on the peaceful transition of power, epitomized by George Washington laying down his sword to make way for democratic elections. Ignoring this history, President Trump vigorously campaigned for the Vice President to single-handedly determine the results of the 2020 election.”
The ruling has no direct bearing on whether Trump will face criminal charges over his efforts to undermine the 2020 results. Carter’s decision came in a dispute over a subset of documents that the select committee had demanded in its subpoena.
Dr. Eastman and President Trump launched a campaign to overturn a democratic election, an action unprecedented in American history. Their campaign was not confined to the ivory tower—it was a coup in search of a legal theory. The plan spurred violent attacks on the seat of our nation’s government, led to the deaths of several law enforcement officers, and deepened public distrust in our political process.
More than a year after the attack on our Capitol, the public is still searching for accountability. This case cannot provide it. The Court is tasked only with deciding a dispute over a handful of emails. This is not a criminal prosecution; this is not even a civil liability suit. At most, this case is a warning about the dangers of “legal theories” gone wrong, the powerful abusing public platforms, and desperation to win at all costs. If Dr. Eastman and President Trump’s plan had worked, it would have permanently ended the peaceful transition of power, undermining American democracy and the Constitution. If the country does not commit to investigating and pursuing accountability for those responsible, the Court fears January 6 will repeat itself.