Judge: Trump allegedly engaged in 'conspiracy to defraud' US, knew fraud claim was wrong

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A California federal judge has found evidence that former President Donald Trump allegedly engaged in "a conspiracy to defraud the United States," ordering the transfer of four emails from Trump attorney John Eastman to the House committee investigating the Capitol attacks.

In an 18-page order Wednesday, U.S. District Judge David Carter said the emails were used to press false claims of voter fraud in Georgia even though "President Trump knew that the specific numbers of voter fraud were wrong" and that Trump "continued to tout those numbers, both in court and to the public."

"The Court finds that these emails are sufficiently related to and in furtherance of a conspiracy to defraud the United States," the judge concluded as part of a continuing review of Eastman's communications and the lawyer's efforts to resist disclosure to the House committee.

More: Judge calls 'illegality' of Trump plan to overturn election 'obvious,' in ruling for Jan. 6 committee

Chapman School of Law professor John Eastman testifies on Capitol Hill in 2017. Eastman was also a former lawyer for former President Donald Trump.
Chapman School of Law professor John Eastman testifies on Capitol Hill in 2017. Eastman was also a former lawyer for former President Donald Trump.

Eastman has sought to shield the disclosure of the communications, saying they represent attorney-client contact. But the judge concluded that no such privilege exists when they offer possible evidence of a crime, known as the "crime-fraud exception."

Trump responded a day later by calling the judge, appointed by President Bill Clinton, a "partisan hack."

"Also, he shouldn’t be making statements about me until he understands the facts, which he doesn’t!" Trump said Thursday in a Truth Social posting.

The House committee declined comment.

It is the second time this year the judge has described damning evidence involving Trump.

In March, Carter ruled that Trump "corruptly attempted to obstruct" the Jan. 6, 2021 certification of President Joe Biden's election.

“The illegality of the plan was obvious,” Carter said in the earlier ruling that emerged from the same review of Eastman's communications.

In the Wednesday ruling, Carter referred to false claims Trump and his attorneys made in December 2020, asserting that Fulton County, Georgia authorities improperly counted the votes of 10,315 dead people, 2,560 felons, and 2,423 unregistered voters.

More: Trump pushed fraud claims publicly after his staff dismissed claims

More: Judge orders Rudy Giuliani to testify before Georgia grand jury investigating Donald Trump

"President Trump and his attorneys ultimately filed the complaint with the same inaccurate numbers without rectifying, clarifying, or otherwise changing them," Carter wrote. "President Trump, moreover, signed a verification swearing under oath that the incorporated, inaccurate numbers 'are true and correct' or 'believed to be true and correct' to the best of his knowledge and belief."

Legal analysts said the judge's ruling represents additional evidence that Trump and his aides engaged in a criminal conspiracy to obstruct the Electoral College vote.

"The tower of provable crimes by Trump keeps growing taller," said Laurence Tribe, law professor emeritus at Harvard Law School.

Bradley P. Moss, a national security lawyer, said Trump is criminally liable because "he swore under oath information he submitted to the court was accurate when he knew it was not."

Trump's efforts to subvert the 2020 election are part of multiple inquiries by Congress, the Justice Department and in Georgia where Atlanta-area District Attorney Fani Willis is leading a wide-ranging criminal investigation.

Last year, Willis disclosed that the investigation included possible election fraud, false statements, conspiracy, oath of office violations, racketeering and violence associated with threats to the election process.

A major focus of the inquiry has been Trump's Jan. 2, 2021, telephone call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in which the former president urged the state official to tilt the 2020 statewide vote in his favor.

"So look, all I want to do is this: I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have. Because we won the state," Trump told Raffensperger, according to audio of that call.


This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Judge: Donald Trump allegedly engaged in 'conspiracy to defraud' US