January 25, 2022

[Above: from October 2021, the John Eastman coup memo gets noticed.]

John Eastman’s bid to evade scrutiny from the Jan. 6 Committee hit a significant rough patch Monday when a federal judge rebuffed his request to dismiss a subpoena sent from the panel investigating the Capitol attack to his former employer, Chapman University.

Eastman, a longtime conservative attorney, first came into the probe’s focus when it was revealed that he authored a legally meritless memo for former President Donald Trump strategizing how to pressure then-Vice President Mike Pence to subvert the 2020 election.

In December, he defied a committee subpoena and promptly invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. Undeterred, the committee then subpoenaed his employer, Chapman University in mid-January, demanding access to Eastman’s emails pertaining to the 2020 election. Though Eastman argued the probe is unauthorized—numerous courts have found otherwise—and that the subpoena to Chapman University was effectively a violation of his privileges, Judge David Carter in California was unmoved, ordering Eastman to produce a log detailing which emails or other records he wants the university to withhold.

Eastman maintains his attempt to keep the Jan. 6 Committee away from records at Chapman is founded on concerns over violations of attorney-client privileges generated during his tenure. Judge Carter, according to CNN, rather deftly unwound that position during a court hearing Monday, as he grilled Eastman’s lawyer, Charles Burnham, about the extent of his client’s engagement with former President Donald Trump.

Burnham confirmed during questioning that Eastman corresponded with state legislators four days before the Capitol attack telling them to fix “egregious conduct” that would result in Joe Biden’s inauguration. Burnham also confirmed Eastman was a guest at the so-called “war room” at the Willard Hotel in Washington, D.C., a location where Trump officials and other campaign hangers-on met repeatedly to discuss the ‘Stop the Steal’ movement and other subversion efforts.

And finally, Judge Carter also got Burnham to confirm that Eastman met with both Trump and Pence on Jan. 3 to discuss blocking the impending certification on Jan. 6.

This information is vitally important to the Jan. 6 Committee because it helps to clarify a crucial aspect of the probe: men like Eastman were not acting alone or on their own volition. They appear to have been acting in direct concert with, or at the direction of, former President Donald Trump.

Burnham, according to CNN, confirmed repeatedly that Eastman “had been working for his client, Trump,” in nearly every capacity.

Crucially, the judge informed Eastman’s counsel on Monday too that their team would lose a “broader challenge of the House's authority” to investigate the Capitol attack—part and parcel of nearly every defense launched against the committee—and that Eastman would also be unable to claim that “his constitutional rights of free speech and protection from illegal search were being violated,” CNN reported.

“The court expects that the parties will work together with the urgency that this case requires,” Judge Carter wrote Monday.

The university must now provide Eastman’s attorneys with access to his emails while at the school.

He retired last January and there are roughly 19,000 emails at review.

It is expected those emails will be remitted to Eastman’s attorney by midday Tuesday.

Once they review them, Eastman and his attorney must decide which items they want to keep under privilege and then list them out in a log. 

Judge Carter set a fast track for the compliance schedule, ordering the Jan. 6 Committee and Eastman file a status report by this Wednesday before reconvening again this Friday. The committee must also publicly disclose when it corresponded with Eastman in the past.

“The report should summarize the progress made and any disputes the parties are facing,” Judge Carter wrote.

After those reports are issued, Carter set the next status conference for Jan. 31.

Given the volume of the records requested and the sensitivity of privileges involved, the actual review process could take longer than the next week or two. 

Republished with permission from Daily Kos.

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