The federal judge overseeing ex-Trump legal adviser John Eastman’s battle against the House Jan. 6 Committee on Monday ordered the lawyer to back up the attorney-client privilege claims he’s made as he seeks to shield his communications with ex-President Donald Trump and others from the committee.
Judge David Carter of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California noted in his order that the Jan. 6 Committee had objected to Eastman’s privilege claims for 130 records (which adds up to 568 pages) of his communications dating Jan. 4 to Jan. 7 of last year. Committee lawyers have argued that Eastman hasn’t proven the existence of the official legal service that he claims prevents him from turning over the communications — he hasn’t proven that the attorney-client relationship exists.
“The Select Committee has repeatedly noted the significance of communications immediately before and after the January 6 attack on the Capitol,” Carter wrote. “Given the investigation’s urgency, the Court finds it appropriate to expedite its privilege review of the January 4-7, 2021 documents.”
The judge ordered Eastman to file a brief supporting his privilege claims for each document in question, plus evidence of “all attorney-client and agent relationships” he had asserted in his privilege log.
“Dr. Eastman shall also provide evidence documenting any attorney-client relationships that existed with his clients,” Carter wrote.
The judge gave Eastman a deadline of Feb. 22. The House committee will then have until March 2 to file its opposition, according to the order.
Carter scheduled the next hearing for March 9.
The order is the latest development in the House committee’s efforts to dig into Eastman’s involvement in then-President Donald Trump’s crusade to steal the 2020 election, which culminated in the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection. Eastman had drawn up an outlandish plot in which Vice President Mike Pence tosses out Joe Biden’s electors during Congress’ certification of the election results and replaces them with fake Trump electors.
Read Carter’s order below: