Judge orders Trump attorney John Eastman to hand over trove of documents to Jan. 6 panel

Constitutional law scholar advised the former president and those close to him on legal strategy following the November 2020 election.

Updated: June 8, 2022 - 5:04pm

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A federal judge has ordered former President Trump legal adviser John Eastman to hand over a batch of 159 documents subpoenaed by the House Democrats' select committee on the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

In a 26-page ruling, U.S. District Judge David Carter, for the Central District of California, ordered the constitutional law scholar to disclose the documents and a group of separate documents pertaining to meetings held between him and a pro-Trump group with a "high-profile" leader, during which ideas for overturning the results of the 2020 election were discussed.

Referring to several of the meetings, Carter wrote: "The Select Committee has a substantial interest in these three meetings because the presentations furthered a critical objective of the January 6 plan: to have contested states certify alternate slates of electors for President Trump.

"Dr. Eastman's actions in these few weeks indicate that his and President Trump's pressure campaign to stop the electoral count did not end with Vice President Pence — it targeted every tier of federal and state elected officials. Convincing state legislatures to certify competing electors was essential to stop the count and ensure President Trump's reelection." 

As the committee prepares for the first night of its prime-time presentation of its findings to the public on Thursday, Carter ruled that Eastman must deliver the documents to the committee by 5 p.m. Wednesday.

Over 400 of Eastman's emails were determined to be legitimately privileged by the Clinton-appointed judge. Eastman sued to block the committee from accessing his Chapman University records in January of this year. The legal professor used his university email to communicate with attorneys, campaign operatives and associates of the former president.

In March, Carter concluded that Eastman and Trump "more likely than not" attempted to illegally obstruct Congress. The judge has made clear his support for the work of the anomalous select committee — which has no members chosen by the House minority leadership — and has described the actions of Trump's attorneys and Eastman as a "coup in search of a legal theory."

The decision is the second order from Carter ordering Eastman to turn over documents.