Coup memo author John Eastman tries to hide 11,000 documents from Capitol riot committee

Chapman University law professor John Eastman, next to U.S. President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani.  (REUTERS)
Chapman University law professor John Eastman, next to U.S. President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani. (REUTERS)

Former Chapman University law professor John Eastman, the author of a controversial memorandum which claimed former Vice President Mike Pence had the unilateral power to overturn ex-president Donald Trump’s 2020 election loss to Joe Biden, is attempting to block the House January 6th select committee from obtaining 11,000 of the 95,153 pages a federal judge ordered him to give the panel last month.

Mr Eastman, a conservative legal scholar, sued the House panel on 20 January to block enforcement of an 18 January subpoena which select committee chairman Bennie Thompson had issued to his former employer to compel production of “all documents and communications ... attributed to [Mr Eastman] that are related in any way to the 2020 election or the January 6, 2021 Joint Session of Congress”.

Five days later, a federal district judge denied his motion for an injunction blocking the subpoena, and the next day ordered him to begin reviewing documents and identify any over which he planned to assert claims of attorney-client privilege.

In a court filing early Monday, Mr Eastman said he’d reviewed 46,000 documents — nearly half of what he’d been ordered to review — and provided 8,000 to the select committee.

Of the 46,000, he said he was withholding 27,000 pages because they were mass emails — spam, newsletters, and the like — and was withholding another 11,000 documents under attorney-client or attorney work-product privileges.

Mr Eastman and lawyers for the House committee are set to appear in court on Monday to update the judge on their progress.

House of Representatives Counsel Douglas Letter is likely to tell the judge he is dissatisfied with Mr Eastman’s compliance with the court’s order, as a Friday court filing revealed Mr Eastman’s privilege log — a document detailing what he is purporting to withhold and under what privilege — is rife with vague labels such as “legal arguments” or “proposal to consider”.

“The Select Committee’s urgent need for resolution of the privilege issues is heightened by the fact that Plaintiff has broadly claimed privileges over a vast swath of documents—many of which appear to be critical to the Select Committee’s investigation,” Letter wrote.