But his emails: expert says John Eastman's correspondence with Donald Trump proves criminal intent
A Newsweek report suggests that prosecutors may soon have the "smoking gun" evidence they need to charge Donald Trump for his attempts to overturn the 2020 election.
This article was authored by Tim Evans.
The revelations are detailed in court filings that claim the former president and his team allegedly engaged in a "criminal conspiracy" before and after the last election. The allegations say that Trump lawyer John Eastman should not be allowed to refuse to comply with a subpoena issued to him by the House Select Committee.
Eastman is citing attorney-client privilege and is withholding hundreds of emails requested by the panel investigating the January 6 insurrection.
The House select committee, chaired by Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) says that such assertions are invalid under the crime-fraud exception, meaning the privilege cannot be cited if the lawyer and his client are attempting to cover up or engage in a crime.
For criminal charges to be brought forward, the committee must refer its evidence to the Department of Justice, who will then decide whether to seek prosecution against the former president or not.
There's no guarantee that the panel will pass on any evidence to the DOJ. And even if they do, legal experts have said they will still need the documents they are requesting from Eastman with the subpoena to provide substantial evidence Trump was willingly committing a crime.
"For any type of obstruction or fraud prosecution, the Department of Justice would have to prove Trump's knowledge and intent. Basically, they would have to get inside the former President's head," Neama Rahmani, former federal prosecutor and president of West Coast Trial Lawyers, told Newsweek.
"An innocent or even negligent misrepresentation is not enough. That's where Eastman comes in."
"If the January 6 committee can show that Trump knew he lost the election, but he attempted to overturn the results anyway, you have enough for a grand jury indictment," Rahmani added. "Witness testimony is good, and they have a lot of that already, but the best evidence is emails or text messages that cannot be refuted.
"That's why the committee is so eager to get Eastman's emails to and from Trump. That is the type of smoking gun evidence the Department of Justice would need to consider prosecuting a former President."
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