A federal judge said Monday that former President Donald Trump was “likely” guilty of attempting to obstruct of Congress for planning to disrupt the certification of electors in Congress on Jan. 6.
“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,” Judge David Carter wrote, a finding that squares with what the House Jan. 6 committee concluded earlier this month. His reasoning came as he ordered former Trump lawyer and coup memo author John Eastman to hand over 101 emails that he had wanted to shield from the committee.
“The illegality of the plan was obvious,” Carter wrote. “Our nation was founded on the peaceful transition of power, epitomized by George Washington laying down his sword to make way for democratic elections. Ignoring this history, President Trump vigorously campaigned for the Vice President to single-handedly determine the results of the 2020 election … Every American — and certainly the President of the United States — knows that in a democracy, leaders are elected, not installed.”
Eastman authored a memo outlining how the vice president could toss out electors from several battleground states and accept alternate, pro-Trump electors, in effect re-electing Trump. Carter noted that Trump and Eastman “likely knew” that the plan was illegal. “President Trump continuing to push that plan despite being aware of its illegality constituted obstruction by ‘dishonest’ means,” Carter wrote.
Carter’s opinion that Trump committed a felony does necessarily turn the wheels of justice toward any closer to holding him accountable. He simply noted it in his ruling about Eastman’s emails. The Justice Department has been tight-lipped on any potential investigations, although Attorney General Merrick Garland said in January that the DOJ is “committed” to prosecuting Jan. 6 offenders “at any level,” regardless if they were present at the Capitol that day or not.
Carter certainly seems to believe Trump and Eastman were offenders. “Dr. Eastman and President Trump launched a campaign to overturn a democratic election, an action unprecedented in American history. Their campaign was not confined to the ivory tower—it was a coup in search of a legal theory,” he wrote. “The plan spurred violent attacks on the seat of our nation’s government, led to the deaths of several law enforcement officers, and deepened public distrust in our political process.”
This is a breaking news story and will be updated.