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The U.S. House Select Committee Investigation of the January 6 Attack on the Capitol: Part 9

Social Justice Policy Brief #34 | By: Erika Shannon | March 9, 2022

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Was John Eastman, former Chapman legal scholar, trying to overthrow democracy?

Photo taken from: Orange County Register

The investigation into the attack on our nation’s capitol last January has been underway for several months now. Countless subpoenas have been issued, to both companies and individuals, and thousands of pieces of video and photographic evidence has been submitted. The House Select Committee has been winding down a long list of people who are connected in some way to the events that transpired on and around January 6, 2021 in Washington, D.C. In a recent bombshell, the Committee has stated that there is enough evidence to conclude that former President Donald Trump and allies may have conspired to commit fraud and obstruction by misleading Americans on the outcome of the 2020 election and attempting to overturn the election results.

The finding of the Committee were released in a legal brief issued in federal courts regarding former President Trump’s lawyer John Eastman. Eastman has attempted to hide records and email from the House Committee’s investigation, alleging that he is under the umbrella of attorney-client privilege. The Committee is looking into whether or not there may be a crime-fraud exception to this attorney-client privilege  rule; they believe Eastman’s emails  indicate that he helped the former President advance a corrupt scheme to obstruct the counting of Electoral College 2020 ballots, and a conspiracy to impede the transfer of power.

John Eastman’s attorney, Charles Burnham, has made it clear that Eastman has a responsibility to protect client confidentiality, even at great personal risk. He claims they will respond in due course, and for now it looks like the Committee will have to wait for the information they are seeking from Eastman. In order for the House Committee to prove Trump committed felony obstruction, investigators would need to show that he “corruptly” intended to impede an official proceeding. The Committee says Trumps’ working with Eastman to pressure former Vice-President Mike Pence to take illegal acts could satisfy that requirement. Only time will now tell if a federal judge will require Eastman to provide his own emails to congressional investigators.

As time goes on, the Committee continues to subpoena individuals in relation to the January 6th, capitol riots. Most recently, the Committee subpoenaed Kimberly Guilfoyle, former trump campaign aid and fiancée to Donald Trump, Jr. The House Select Committee purports to have evidence that Guilfoyle was in direct contact with key individuals, raised funds for the rally immediately preceding the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol, and participated in that event. Guilfoyle spoke at the rally on the Ellipse in support of the former President and his claims of election fraud. Since Guilfoyle backed out of her voluntary interview, the Committee is hoping that this subpoena will compel her to testify before them.

The House Select Committee has also issued subpoenas to six individuals who promoted false claims that the 2020 president election was fraudulent, and also participated in or encouraged various actions based on those false claims. The six individuals named are Cleta Mitchell, Kenneth Chesebro, Christina Bobb, Katherine Friess, Kurt Olsen, and Phillip Kline. The Committee hopes the testimony of these individuals will help them further understand various strategies employed to potentially affect the outcome of the 2020 election.


Jan. 6 committee issues 6 subpoenas to individuals promoting false election claims

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The National Archives has also released documents to the House Select Committee that were previously kept hidden by the former President. This includes a schedule of the former President’s morning on January 6, 2021. That afternoon the former President spoke at the Ellipse at the Save the America Rally, where he continued to make unsubstantiated claims about the 2020 election’s outcome.

In another small victory for the House Select Committee, former Attorney General William Barr has said that he would be willing to further cooperate with the committee. 

 

Barr said he believes that the former President was responsible for the January 6 riot in a “broad sense” but did not lay down any legal implications. Barr is thought to have relevant information to the panel’s investigation and may help push their investigation in ways that will ensure the events that transpired in January of 2021 do not repeat themselves.

This brief is part of an ongoing series in the Select Committee’s investigation; further updates will be provided as the investigation continues.

Engagement Resources​

Click or tap on resource URL to visit links where available 

To read the panel’s most recent court filing, click here.

For the latest news regarding the January 6th Investigation, click here.

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