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The House committee investigating the insurrection at the Capitol on January 6, 2021, has accused former president Donald Trump of being involved 'a criminal conspiracy' to overturn the presidential election.
The panel made the allegations in a legal brief filed on Wednesday, March 2, as part of its investigation, which has included interviews with more than 550 witnesses.
John Eastman, a Trump-allied lawyer, forms a large focus of the filing, though it reportedly marks the most direct line the committee has attempted to establish between Trump, his allies and potential criminal activity during the last election.
In the brief, as cited by NBC News, the panel wrote: 'The Select Committee ... has a good-faith basis for concluding that the President and members of his Campaign engaged in a criminal conspiracy to defraud the United States.'
Eastman has previously been found to have written memos arguing that then-Vice President Mike Pence could overturn the election after Joe Biden was announced as the successful candidate, and while the committee previously subpoenaed Eastman to turn over documents, the lawyer invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and refused to turn over documents, claiming they are protected by attorney-client privilege.
The panel has argued for a court review of the documents, saying there is evidence to support a belief that a review 'may reveal that the President and members of his Campaign engaged in common law fraud in connection with their efforts to overturn the 2020 election results'.
Commenting on the disputed documents in a statement on Wednesday, the committee’s chair and vice chair, Reps. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss. and Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., said: 'The facts we’ve gathered strongly suggest that Dr. Eastman’s emails may show that he helped Donald Trump advance a corrupt scheme to obstruct the counting of electoral college ballots and a conspiracy to impede the transfer of power.'
Trump and Eastman have not been charged with any crime, though NBC reports the filing lists conspiracy to defraud the United States; obstruction of an official proceeding; and common law fraud, and claims Trump and Eastman endeavoured to have Pence manipulate voting results by reject electors or delaying Congress in counting electoral votes.
The panel has said the court should reject Eastman's claims of attorney-client privilege and enforce an exception for when a client is involved in criminal activities, though Eastman’s lawyers have said Eastman has a responsibility to protect client confidences.
They commented: 'The Select Committee has responded to Dr. Eastman’s efforts to discharge this responsibility by accusing him of criminal activity.'
More than 780 people have been charged in relation to the events at the Capitol, which took place following a speech from Trump.
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