By Zachary Cohen and Tierney Sneed, CNN
A federal judge on Wednesday ordered the release of emails from John Eastman, a former Donald Trump attorney, to House investigators, saying the communications were made in furtherance of a crime related to Trump’s efforts to subvert the 2020 election.
“The emails show that President Trump knew that the specific numbers of voter fraud were wrong but continued to tout those numbers, both in court and to the public,” Judge David O. Carter wrote.
“The Court finds that these emails are sufficiently related to and in furtherance of a conspiracy to defraud the United States,” he added.
Carter, who sits on the federal district court in central California, already released many of Eastman’s emails from around January 2021 to the House select committee investigating the US Capitol attack, but the two sides were still arguing over 562 additional documents from Eastman’s Chapman University email account.
For eight of the 500-plus Eastman documents the judge was examining, the judge said that the materials could be released because they fit in the so-called crime-fraud exception, which allows disclosure of otherwise privileged materials if the communications were related to or in furtherance of illegal or fraudulent conduct.
Four of the documents were from email threads discussing prospective election litigation. In them, Carter wrote, “Dr. Eastman and other attorneys suggest that — irrespective of the merits — the primary goal of filing is to delay or otherwise disrupt the January 6 vote.”
Carter’s new order cited one email where Trump’s attorneys state that “merely having this case pending in the Supreme Court, and not ruled on, may be enough to delay consideration of Georgia.”
“This email, read in context with other documents in this review, make clear that President Trump filed certain lawsuits not to obtain legal relief, but to disrupt or delay the January 6 congressional proceedings through the courts,” the ruling stated.
“The Court finds that these four documents are sufficiently related to and in furtherance of the obstruction crime,” it adds.
CNN has reached out to representatives for Trump and Eastman for comment.
Four other emails that the judge is ordering disclosed “demonstrate an effort by President Trump and his attorneys to press false claims in federal court for the purpose of delaying the January 6 vote.” Carter pointed to litigation that Trump filed challenging the election results in Georgia. The judge went on to cite a December 2020 email where Eastman said that Trump had been made aware that some of the allegations made in a early December state court election challenge were inaccurate.
According to Carter, Eastman wrote in the December 30, 2020, email: “Although the President signed a verification for [the state court filing] back on Dec. 1, he has since been made aware that some of the allegations (and evidence proffered by the experts) has been inaccurate. For him to sign a new verification with that knowledge (and incorporation by reference) would not be accurate.”
Yet Trump and his attorneys went on to file a federal lawsuit referencing the same inaccurate numbers, Carter said. The federal lawsuit Trump’s attorneys filed did not incorporate the numbers in the body of the complaint, but rather, the lawsuit included as an attachment the state court election challenge. Trump filed it, as Carter noted, without “rectifying, clarifying, or otherwise changing” the bogus fraud numbers.
The federal lawsuit filed by Trump also included that a footnote that Carter characterized as a Trump “attempt to disclaim his responsibility over the misleading allegations.” Trump said in the footnote he was only relying on the figures that that had been presented to him. “But, by his attorneys’ own admissions, the information provided to him was that the alleged voter fraud numbers were inaccurate,” Carter said Wednesday.
Carter’s findings that Trump and Eastman “knowingly” misrepresented voter fraud numbers in federal court will bolster the committee’s investigation into the former President’s election reversal gambits.
The committee has repeatedly argued that a core tenet of Trump’s plan to overturn the 2020 election results was to file frivolous lawsuits intended to delay certification of the results in key swing states. The judge’s ruling echoes that sentiment. The revelation of the emails also comes as the Justice Department as well as the local prosecutor in Atlanta have launched their own criminal probes looking at the 2020 election schemes.
Eastman must also hand over portions of materials related to his proposal for then-Vice President Mike Pence to disrupt certification of the 2020 election on January 6, 2021, the judge ordered Wednesday. Thirty-three documents were ordered disclosed in total, under the new order, which set a deadline for doing so for October 28.
Earlier this month, the committee argued that Eastman has been “consistently unreliable” as he’s tried to protect his communications from the ongoing probe and that the investigators should now get access to more emails from one of his work email accounts.
This story has been updated with additional details.
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CNN’s Katelyn Polantz contributed to this report.