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January 6 committee says former President Donald Trump engaged in ‘criminal conspiracy’

WASHINGTON — The House committee investigating the U.S. Capitol insurrection said late Wednesday that its evidence showed former President Donald Trump and his associates engaged in a “criminal conspiracy” to prevent Congress from certifying presidential election results, spreading false information about the result and pressuring state officials to overturn it.

The committee made the claims in a filing in response to a lawsuit filed by Trump adviser John Eastman. Eastman, a lawyer who consulted with Trump as he tried to overturn the election, is trying to withhold documents from the committee as it investigates the Jan. 6, 2021, uprising. The committee has argued there is an exception legal privilege allowing the disclosure of communications regarding ongoing or future crimes.

“The select committee also has a good faith basis for concluding that the president and his campaign members engaged in a criminal conspiracy to defraud the United States,” the committee wrote in a filing submitted to the U.S. District Court. of the Central District of California. .

The 221-page filing marks the committee’s most formal effort to link the former president to a federal crime, though the true scope of the filing is unclear since lawmakers don’t have the power to press charges. themselves and can only make a referral. at the Ministry of Justice. The department investigated last year’s riot, but gave no indication it planned to press charges against Trump.

“Evidence supports an inference that President Trump and members of his campaign knew that he did not win enough legitimate electoral votes in the state to be declared the winner of the 2020 presidential election during the session. joint January 6 congressional meeting, but the president nonetheless sought to use the vice president to manipulate the results in his favor,” the filing reads.

The brief filed Wednesday sought to refute claims of attorney-client confidentiality made by Eastman in order to withhold records from congressional investigators.

“The select committee is not conducting a criminal investigation,” Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson, the committee’s Democratic chairman, said in a statement. “But, as the judge noted in a previous hearing, Dr. Eastman’s privilege claims raise the question of whether the criminal fraud exception to attorney-client privilege applies in this situation.”

A request for comment from Eastman’s attorney was not immediately returned.

The filing also details excerpts from the committee’s interviews with several of Trump’s top aides and members of former Vice President Mike Pence’s team, including Chief of Staff Marc Short and Chief Counsel Greg Jacob.

The committee said it found evidence that Trump was seeking to obstruct official process – in this case, the certification of election results – by trying to force Pence to delay the process so that there was more time to ” manipulate” the results.

In a Jan. 6, 2021, email exchange between Eastman and Jacob, Eastman is pushing for Pence to step in in his ceremonial role of overseeing the certification of electoral votes.

Jacob replies: “I respect your heart here. I share your concerns about what the Democrats will do once in power. I want the integrity of the election established. But I have gone through every legal avenue laid before me until ‘to their conclusion, and I respectfully conclude that as a legal framework, it’s an outcome-oriented position that you would never support if tempted by the opposition, and essentially entirely made up.”

He added: “And thanks to your bulls, we are now besieged.”

In other transcripts released as part of the filing, former top Justice Department official Richard Donoghue described trying to convince Trump that the voter fraud allegations were pure fiction. “I myself told the president that several times, in several conversations, that these allegations of ballots being smuggled in a suitcase and going through the machines several times, that was not true, that we we watched, we watched the video, we interviewed the witnesses, and it wasn’t true.”

At one point, Donoghue said, he had to reassure Trump that the Justice Department was investigating a report that someone transported a tractor-trailer full of ballots from New York to Pennsylvania. . The department found no evidence to support the allegations, Donoghue said.

The transcripts provided colorful details of a controversial Jan. 3, 2021, meeting in which Trump considered replacing his acting attorney general, Jeffrey Rosen, with an aide who promised to get to the bottom of the government’s false allegations of voter fraud. President.

This aide, Jeffrey Clark, had for some time been the department’s lead environmental enforcement lawyer, a fact which drew derision from his colleagues at the meeting when it was pointed out that Clark was not had not been a criminal prosecutor.

“And he kind of shot back and said, ‘Well, I’ve done a lot of very complicated calls and civil litigation, environmental litigation and things like that,'” Donoghue said. “And I said, ‘That’s right. You are an environmental lawyer. How about you go back to your office, and we’ll call you if there’s an oil spill. “”

The filing was the most comprehensive overview yet of the findings of the committee, which is investigating the violent insurgency by Trump supporters in an effort to ensure nothing like this happens again. Although the panel cannot pursue criminal charges, members say they want the public to have a detailed account of the attack, in which hundreds of people brutally beat police, pushed through the windows and doors and interrupted certification of President Joe Biden’s victory.

So far, lawmakers and investigators have interviewed hundreds of people, including members of Trump’s family and his chief of staff as well as his allies in the seven swing states where the former president unsuccessfully attempted to prove that he had won. The panel also sought information from members of Congress and subpoenaed records and testimony from major social media platforms that they believe played a role in spreading false election information.

The committee is expected to publish its findings in a lengthy report or series of reports later this year, before the midterm elections. The panel is also planning days or weeks of hearings starting in April with some of the witnesses who testified.

Copyright © 2022 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved.


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