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Federal Judge Finds Trump Likely Committed Felony in Effort to Overturn 2020 Election in Unprecedented Ruling
Doug Mills-Pool/Getty Images

The House select committee investigating the deadly failed insurrection against the United States Capitol has faced repeated stonewalling from a number of former President Donald Trump's allies, including lawyer John Eastman, whose infamous memo laid out a plan for Trump to retake the White House despite losing the 2020 election.

In a civil filing earlier this month, the committee laid out the crimes it has reason to believe Trump committed—a response to a lawsuit brought by Eastman seeking to block the committee from accessing 101 emails from Eastman regarding the plot to subvert the election.

Now, U.S. District Court Judge David Carter has ordered that Eastman release the emails to the committee, and he made a stunning declaration in the ruling.

Carter wrote:

“Based on the evidence, the Court finds it more likely than not that President Trump corruptly attempted to obstruct the Joint Session of Congress on January 6, 2021."

Eastman was instrumental in pressuring then-Vice President Mike Pence to execute the "Green Bay Sweep"—the moniker Eastman gave to the scheme. Citing phony slates of pro-Trump "electors" in multiple states that sent forged documents to the National Archives (which evidence suggests were orchestrated by the Trump campaign), Eastman argued that Pence could declare dueling slates of electors in swing states Trump lost. These electors would be thrown out, nullifying millions of votes, and new electors would be appointed by the states' Republican-controlled legislatures, who would've been expected to appoint pro-Trump ones.

Judging by emails already accessed by the House committee, Eastman knew the plan was in violation of the law, urging Pence in an email to consider "one more relatively minor violation" of the Electoral Count Act.

According to Politico, Judge Carter's ruling potentially marks the first time a judge has said in a ruling that a President likely committed crimes. Carter said the illegality of Eastman's plan was "obvious."

Though this latest ruling doesn't directly result in any criminal penalties for Trump, some are hoping it ultimately results in a criminal probe by the Justice Department that results in charges.

Others were more pessimistic.

The Justice Department has yet to confirm if it's investigating Trump's role in inciting the insurrection, but it's looking more and more likely that the House committee will issue a criminal referral against Trump, urging the Department to conduct a criminal investigation.