The Congressional inquiry investigating the January 6 U.S. Capitol uprising says it has evidence that former President Donald Trump and his campaign engaged in a ‘criminal conspiracy’ to prevent the certification of the 2020 election .
The claim is the most direct indication from the House Select Committee that it is determined that Trump and his inner circle unlawfully sought to void the election. The committee also said there is also evidence linking Trump and his allies to the rioters who stormed the US Capitol while Congress was certifying the election.
Committee lawyers made the statements Wednesday in a filing in an ongoing lawsuit of Trump adviser John Eastman, who is seeking to block investigative efforts to compel him to see documents.
“The evidence supports an inference that President Trump, [Eastman]and several others struck a deal to defraud the United States by interfering with the election certification process, spreading false information about voter fraud, and pressuring state officials to alter the results of state elections and on federal officials to assist in this effort,” the filing reads.
Charles Burnham, attorney for Eastman, said Newsweek in an email, he looks forward to responding to the committee’s claims “in due course.” Eastman is accused by the
Criminal Activities Committee for seeking to protect his client’s “confidences” even at great personal risk and expense, Burnham said.
But because the committee’s inquiry is a civil matter, Burnham said Eastman “will not enjoy the constitutional protections normally afforded to people accused by their government of criminal conduct.”
The filing further indicates that as Congress prepared to certify the election, Trump and Eastman tried to persuade then-Vice President Mike Pence to reject electoral votes from some disputed states or delay the procedure for allowing the legislatures to cast new votes.
Trump’s repeated claims that the election was “stolen,” despite no evidence of widespread fraud, were intended to persuade the public, state officials and members of Congress, while pressuring Pence, states depositors.
“The apparent goal of these efforts was to overturn the results of the 2020 edition
the presidential election and declare Donald Trump the winner,” the filing read. “In this manner, the conspiracy was intended to obstruct and interfere with the proper functioning of the government of the United States.”
The filing also points to Trump’s social media posts spreading false information about the election. In one instance, Trump released an edited video clip showing a Georgia official pulling suitcases under a table after election officials left. The Georgia Secretary of State’s office released the full video debunking Trump’s claims.
“In addition to the legal effort to delay certification, there is also evidence that the conspiracy extended to rioters engaged in violence on Capitol Hill,” the filing reads.
The filing refers to a civil lawsuit against Trump where the judge hearing the case “specifically found it plausible to believe that the president entered into a conspiracy with the rioters on January 6, 2021” to forcefully disrupt the certification of the election.
It’s unclear what the filing will mean for the investigation. So far, no member of the committee has said they will refer the case to the US Department of Justice for possible prosecution.
Newsweek has reached out to committee chairman Bennie Thompson and Trump’s representative for comment.