Trump-linked lawyer John Eastman is attempting to prevent the House committee investigating the Capitol riot from getting its hands on over 3,200 documents that detail his work for the former president.
Eastman made it clear he is asserting attorney-client privilege over the documents, which total 36,106 pages, in a status report announcing the completion of his court-mandated privilege review Monday, setting the stage for a case-by-case evaluation of the disputed documents.
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"Plaintiff has now completed the privilege review ordered by this Court. The review began with 21,396 documents totaling 94,153 pages identified by Chapman as meeting the Select Committee’s search terms," the status report said. "The Select Committee’s objections to Dr. Eastman’s claims of privilege over the remaining 3,247 documents / 36,106 pages remain pending."
With Eastman's review completed, the documents have been submitted to court for a "camera inspection" to assess his privilege challenges in compliance with a prior court order. U.S. District Court Judge James Carter, who is overseeing the case, will have final say as to which of the disputed documents will get sent to the committee.
Eastman, who retired from Chapman University last year shortly after the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol, provided legal advice to former President Donald Trump and his allies in their efforts to challenge the election results and keep him in office.
Earlier this year, the Jan. 6 committee subpoenaed Chapman University for emails he sent on that account, seeking information for its inquiry about attempts to subvert the 2020 election. Eastman quickly filed a lawsuit challenging the subpoena, and on Jan. 26, Carter ordered him to review roughly 21,000 emails sent from the account, totaling over 94,000 pages. For the past three months, he has been under court order to review 1,000 to 1,500 pages per day.
About 30,000 pages were quickly deemed irrelevant chain emails including things such as newsletters and spam, and he did not contest roughly 25,000 pages. The defendants made no objections to his privilege claims on about 3,006 pages' worth of documents, leaving 36,106 pages of documents in question.
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Late last month, Carter ordered Eastman to turn over a narrowed allotment of 101 emails sent between Jan. 4, 2021, and Jan. 7, 2021, to the Jan. 6 committee, in defiance of Eastman's attorney-client privilege claims. In that ruling, Carter also stated Trump likely attempted to obstruct Congress, which is illegal, while listening to Eastman's legal advice. Eastman had advised Trump to pressure then-Vice President Mike Pence to overturn the election during the certification process on Jan. 6, 2021.
"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," Carter wrote in the March 28 ruling.
"Dr. Eastman argues that the plan was legally justified as it 'was grounded on a good faith interpretation of the Constitution.' But 'ignorance of the law is no excuse,' and believing the Electoral Count Act was unconstitutional did not give President Trump license to violate it," Carter added. "The illegality of the plan was obvious."