The Jan. 6 House committee has evidence Former President Donald Trump and his associates may have “engaged in a criminal conspiracy to defraud the United States” in an effort to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election, it said.
In a federal court filing submitted this week, committee members claimed Trump may have committed two crimes while trying to stop Congress from counting electoral votes. The filing arrives as Trump’s former lawyer John Eastman petitioned to stop investigators from obtaining thousands of emails.
“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,” the committee’s Reps. Bennie Thompson and Liz Cheney said in a statement.
Attorney Charles Burnham, who is representing Eastman, argued in a statement that Eastman “has a responsibility to protect client confidences, even at great personal risk and expense.”
“The Select Committee has responded to Dr. Eastman’s efforts to discharge this responsibility by accusing him of criminal conduct,” he said. “Because this is a civil matter, Dr. Eastman will not have the benefit of the Constitutional protections normally afforded to those accused by their government of criminal conduct. Nonetheless, we look forward to responding in due course.”
The committee’s claim also marks the first time it has accused Trump of committing a specific crime.
“As the courts were overwhelmingly ruling against President Trump’s claims of election misconduct, he and his associates began to plan extra-judicial efforts to overturn the results of the election and prevent the president-elect from assuming office,” the filing read.
“At the heart of these efforts was an aggressive public misinformation campaign to persuade millions of Americans that the election had in fact been stolen,” it continued. “The president and his associates persisted in making ‘stolen election’ claims even after the president’s own appointees at the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security, along with his own campaign staff, had informed the president that his claims were wrong.”
According to the filing, the committee has evidence, including interviews with senior White House officials, that Trump and his allies tried to stop the electoral vote counting process and pressured Former Vice President Mike Pence “to manipulate the results in his favor.”
“The evidence supports an inference that President Trump, plaintiff 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,” it reads.
The committee members are not able to charge the former president with a crime. However, they have indicated that after their investigation is complete, they will refer their findings to the Justice Department, which would then decide whether or not to press charges against Trump.