The House Select Committee tasked with investigating the January 6th attack on the Capitol has announced that it has produced new evidence against former President Trump and his political allies. The committee alleges that Trump and his allies attempted to obstruct Congress in its duty to count the electoral votes associated with the 2020 election. In doing so, they may have “engaged in a criminal conspiracy to defraud the United States.”
The committee submitted its filing to the U.S. District Court in the Central District of California, in response to John Eastman, a lawyer for the former President. Eastman had been attempting to fight a committee issued subpoena, and claimed attorney-client privilege prevented his testimony. The committee argued that Eastman’s push to block the subpoena shouldn’t stand, and that the court should order him to produce documents and testify. Attorney-client privilege can’t be used for covering up illegal acts, which is why the committee included Eastman’s post election emails in the filing.
In the emails, Eastman acknowledged this he was working with Trump to attempt to prevent the election’s certification. “The evidence supports an inference that President Trump, [Eastman], and several others entered into an agreement to defraud the United States by interfering with the election certification process, disseminating false information about election fraud, and pressuring state officials to alter state election results and federal officials to assist in that effort,” committee lawyers wrote in the filing. “The Select Committee also has a good-faith basis for concluding that the President and members of his Campaign engaged in a criminal conspiracy to defraud the United States.”
While the House Select Committee has investigative powers, it has no ability to prosecute anyone involved. The panel members may decide to refer their case to the Department of Justice, which would then choose to begin a criminal probe or not. Committee Co-chairs Bennie Thompson and Liz Cheney released a statement suggesting that they believe Trump and his allies acted illegally. “The facts we’ve gathered strongly suggest that Dr. Eastman’s emails may show that he helped Donald Trump advance a corrupt scheme to obstruct the counting of electoral college ballots and a conspiracy to impede the transfer of power,” Cheney and Thompson said.
Trump has already begun making hints that he’ll run again in 2024. Any potential legal action against the former President may make that run more difficult, especially if he has to defend against federal claims of defrauding the United States. However, there is no guarantee that an investigation will take place. After a long investigation into the Trump organization by Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg, there are now reports that leading prosecutors involved have resigned and the investigation itself is in doubt. While the Eastman emails indicate the former President likely committed illegal acts, there is no guarantee that will result in a state or federal prosecution.