Attorney John Eastman revealed Monday that he has asserted attorney-client privilege on 37,000 pages of emails related to his work for then-President Donald Trump in the effort to overturn the results of the 2020 election.
The Jan. 6 select committee has objected to “every claim” over those pages, which now sends the gargantuan dispute to U.S. District Court Judge David Carter for a case-by-case review.
Eastman revealed the scope of the dispute in a status report to Carter, concluding a three-month review that Carter demanded he undertake. Since January, Eastman has been reviewing 1,000 to 1,500 pages per day.
Carter has already ruled that he believes Eastman and Trump “more likely than not” engaged in a criminal conspiracy to obstruct Congress, an effort he called “a coup in search of a legal theory.” He has described the select committee’s work as urgent, but he must now determine how to parse these 37,000 pages in time for the committee to employ them in its ongoing investigation of Trump’s effort to subvert the transfer of power.
The emails are all drawn from Chapman University, where Eastman was employed until shortly after Jan. 6. The committee subpoenaed Chapman to obtain the emails, but Eastman sued the school and the select committee to slow the process. Carter then ordered the review that Eastman undertook.
The select committee urged Carter to prioritize documents sent from Jan. 4 to Jan. 7, 2021, the key period of the panel’s review. That narrower review resulted in Carter’s bombshell ruling about likely criminality by Trump. But now Carter must turn to the broader review of Eastman’s emails stretching back to Nov. 3, 2020, the date of the presidential election.
The select committee has already raised doubts about whether Eastman was legitimately acting as Trump’s lawyer prior to Jan. 6. Eastman, under an order from Carter, produced a retainer agreement dated Dec. 6, 2020, but it was unsigned and it’s not clear when it was effectuated. But Carter also ruled that Eastman did, eventually, become Trump’s attorney, noting that he filed court papers on Trump’s behalf in late December and communicated with top White House aides and other officials while representing himself as Trump’s lawyer.
Of the 90,000 pages of emails subject to the select committee subpoena, about 30,000 were immediately ruled out as irrelevant mass emails. Eastman made no privilege claims over an additional 25,000 pages of records.
“Defendants made no objection to Dr. Eastman’s claims of privilege over 643 documents totaling 3,006 pages, but did object to every claim of attorney-client privilege and work-product protection that Dr. Eastman asserted with respect to his representation of former President Trump and/or his campaign committee,” Eastman’s attorney Charles Burnham wrote. “Those 3,264 documents, totaling 37,650 pages, have therefore been submitted for in camera inspection.”
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