Judge finds Trump likely to have conspired to defraud US with false election claims

A federal judge in California has declared it more likely than not that emails from one of former president Donald Trump’s campaign attorneys should be disclosed to the House January 6 select committee because they pertained to a conspiracy to defraud the United States by submitting false claims as part of his effort to have courts overturn 2020 election results.

In an 18-page opinion and order published on Wednesday, US District Judge David Carter said emails from ex-Chapman University law professor John Eastman must turn over emails that show Mr Trump “knew that the specific numbers of voter fraud were wrong but continued to tout those numbers, both in court and to the public”.

Mr Eastman has for months been fighting to prevent the select committee from obtaining emails related to his involvement in Mr Trump’s push to reverse the results of the 2020 election and keep himself in the White House against the wishes of US voters.

Judge Carter wrote that four of the emails “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,” including claims filed as part of a lawsuit in Georgia.

He describes the emails as containing Mr Trump’s “concerns” as relayed by Mr Eastman about having to include “specific numbers” in a signed declaration to be filed with the court.

In an excerpt of one such message, Mr Eastman writes that Mr Trump was “made aware that some of the allegations” were “inaccurate” and therefore knew that signing the declaration would be making a false statement.

“President Trump and his attorneys ultimately filed the complaint with the same inaccurate numbers without rectifying, clarifying, or otherwise changing them. President Trump, moreover, signed a verification swearing under oath that the incorporated, inaccurate numbers ‘are true and correct’ or ‘believed to be true and correct’ to the best of his knowledge and belief,” the judge said.

Judge Carter added that the messages show Mr Trump nonetheless submitted the signed statement to courts and concluded with his finding that the emails were “sufficiently related to and in furtherance of a conspiracy to defraud the United States” to require disclosure under the crime-fraud exception to the attorney-client privilege.

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