WASHINGTON (AP) — Former President Donald Trump signed legal documents challenging the results of the 2020 election, including allegations of voter fraud that he knew were false, a federal judge said in a ruling Wednesday.
U.S. District Court Judge David Carter, in an 18-page advisory, ordered that four emails between Trump and attorney John Eastman be given to the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. He said the emails cannot be withheld because they contain evidence of possible crimes.
While the judge’s conclusion has no practical impact on a separate Justice Department investigation into attempts to reverse the election, any evidence that Trump signed documents he knew were false would at least be a notable data point. are for criminal prosecutors who seek to blame for many-varying efforts to undo the results.
The judge specifically cited claims by Trump’s attorneys that Fulton County in Georgia had falsely counted more than 10,000 votes from the dead, felons and unregistered voters. Those false allegations were part of an application that Trump’s legal team filed in Georgia court on December 4, 2021.
Later that month, Eastman warned in a note that Trump had been informed that “some of the allegations (and the evidence presented by the experts)” in that Georgia filing were “inaccurate.”
But even after Eastman’s message, Trump and his team filed another legal complaint with “the same inaccurate numbers,” the judge wrote. Trump confirmed under oath that the complaint was true to the best of his knowledge.
“The emails show that President Trump knew the specific numbers of voter fraud were wrong but continued to tout those numbers, both in court and the public,” Carter wrote. He said the emails are “sufficiently related to and promote a conspiracy to defraud the United States”.
Representatives for Trump and Eastman did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The ruling is the latest in a months-long legal battle between Eastman — a conservative lawyer and chief architect of Trump’s last-ditch efforts to stay in office — and congressional investigators.
Eastman has attempted to withhold documents from the committee based on attorney-client privilege claims. The committee has argued that there is a legal exception that allows the disclosure of communications about current or future crimes. And Carter largely agreed, ordering the release of hundreds of emails to the House committee since the spring.
In a stunning ruling in March, the judge had claimed that it is “more likely than not” that Trump committed crimes in his bid to stop the certification of the 2020 election.
Carter said in his ruling on Wednesday that reports he’s viewed from Eastman and other attorneys show that the “primary purpose” of some of their lawsuits was to delay or disrupt the certification of President Joe Biden’s election victory.
The totality of the evidence makes it clear that “Trump has filed certain lawsuits not to get legal help, but to disrupt or delay the January 6 congressional proceedings through the courts,” the judge wrote.
Eastman’s emails are part of the House committee’s investigation into a multi-part plan by Trump and his allies to undo the 2020 election and the ensuing violence at the Capitol.
The judge ordered Eastman to give the documents to the committee by the afternoon of October 28.
Associated Press writer Eric Tucker contributed in Washington.
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