WASHINGTON — The House Committee investigating the U.S. Capitol insurrection said Wednesday night that its evidence shows former President Donald Trump and his associates engaged in a “criminal conspiracy” to prevent Congress from certifying the results of the presidential election, spread false information about it and pressured state officials to overturn the results.
The committee made the claims in a filing in response to a lawsuit by Trump adviser John Eastman. Eastman, a lawyer who was consulting with Trump as he attempted to overturn the election, is trying to withhold documents from the committee as it investigates the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection. The committee argued there is a legal exception allowing the disclosure of communications regarding ongoing or future crimes.
The 221-page filing marks the committee’s most formal effort to link the former president to a federal crime, though the actual import of the filing is not clear since lawmakers do not have the power to bring charges on their own and can only make a referral to the Justice Department. The department has been investigating last year’s riot, but has not given any indication that it is considering seeking charges against Trump.
The brief filed Wednesday was in an effort by the committee to refute attorney-client privilege claims made by Eastman in order to withhold records from congressional investigators.
The filing also details excerpts from the committee’s interviews with several top Trump 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 sought to obstruct an official proceeding — in this case, the certification of the election results — by trying to strongarm Pence to delay the proceedings so there would be additional time to “manipulate” the results.
In a Jan. 6, 2021, email exchange between Eastman and Jacob, Eastman pushes for Pence to intervene in his ceremonial role of overseeing the certification of the electoral votes.
He added, “And thanks to your bulls—-, we are now under siege.”
In other transcripts released as part of the filing, former senior Justice Department official Richard Donoghue described trying to convince Trump that claims of election fraud were pure fiction. “I told the President myself that several times, in several conversations, that these allegations about ballots being smuggled in a suitcase and run through the machines several times, it was not true, that we had looked at it, we looked at the video, we interviewed the witnesses, and it was not true.”