Judge: Trump knew voting fraud claims in legal documents were false

WASHINGTON (AP) – Former President Donald Trump signed legal documents challenging the results of the 2020 election, including claims of voter fraud he knew were false, a federal judge said in a ruling Wednesday.

U.S. District Court Judge David Carter, in an 18-page opinion, ordered that four emails between Trump and attorney John Eastman be released to a House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. He said the emails could not be withheld because they contained evidence of potential crimes.

Although the judge’s conclusion has no practical connection to the Justice Department’s separate investigation into efforts to overturn the election, any evidence that Trump signed documents he knew to be false could, at the very least, be significant information for criminal prosecutors trying to resolve the far-disparate culpability efforts to overturn the results.

The judge specifically cited claims by Trump’s lawyers that Fulton County, Georgia improperly counted more than 10,000 votes from dead people, felons and unregistered voters. Those false allegations were part of a filing by Trump’s legal team in Georgia state court on December 4, 2021.

Later that month, Eastman warned in a message that Trump was aware that “some of the allegations (and evidence offered by experts)” in the Georgia dossier were “inaccurate.”

Still, even after the message from Eastman, Trump and his team filed another legal complaint that had “the same incorrect numbers,” the judge wrote. Trump confirmed under oath that the complaint was true to the best of his knowledge.

“The emails show that President Trump knew certain voter fraud numbers were wrong, but continued to use those numbers, both in court and in public,” Carter wrote. He said the emails were “sufficiently related to and in furtherance of a conspiracy to defraud the United States.”

Representatives for Trump and Eastman did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The ruling is the latest development in a months-long legal battle between Eastman — a conservative attorney and chief architect of Trump’s latest efforts to stay in office — and congressional investigators.

Eastman sought to withhold documents from the committee under a claim of attorney-client privilege. The committee argued that there is a legal exception that allows disclosure of communications related to ongoing or future crimes. And Carter largely agreed, ordering the release of hundreds of House committee emails starting in the spring.

In a stunning ruling in March, the judge said it was “more likely than not” that Trump committed crimes in his bid to stop the 2020 election from being confirmed.

Carter said in his ruling Wednesday that messages he reviewed from Eastman and other attorneys showed that the “primary goal” of some of their litigation was to delay or obstruct the confirmation of President Joe Biden’s election victory.

The totality of the evidence clearly shows that “Trump filed certain claims not to obtain legal relief, but to disrupt or delay the Jan. 6 congressional proceeding through the courts,” the judge wrote.

The emails from Eastman are part of a House committee investigation into a multi-pronged plan by Trump and his allies to overturn the 2020 election and the ensuing violence at the Capitol.

The judge ordered Eastman to submit the documents to the committee by the afternoon of October 28.


Associated Press writer Eric Tucker contributed in Washington.

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