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John Eastman Says He Dealt Directly With Trump Over Jan. 6 Plans

At the time, the judge, David O. Carter of Federal District Court for the Central District of California, ordered the release of more than 100 of Mr. Eastman’s emails; Mr. Eastman turned them over to the House committee as he continued to fight the release of others.

Among the documents that Mr. Eastman turned over was a draft memo written for Rudolph W. Giuliani, Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, that recommended that Vice President Mike Pence reject electors from contested states in his role overseeing the certification by Congress of the Electoral College results on Jan. 6.

In their filing, Mr. Eastman’s lawyers wrote that their client disagreed with Judge Carter’s conclusion that he had undermined democracy, arguing that Mr. Eastman truly believed the election was stolen. The filing cited the work of conservative media figures — including the new film “2000 Mules” by Dinesh D’Souza, which fact checkers have described as misleading — as evidence that widespread fraud occurred in the election.

“If, as seemed clear to Dr. Eastman and his client at the time, there was illegality and fraud in the election of sufficient magnitude to have altered the outcome of the election, then far from ‘undermining’ democracy, Dr. Eastman’s actions and advice must be seen for what they were — a legitimate attempt to prevent a stolen election,” Mr. Eastman’s lawyers wrote. “Perhaps Dr. Eastman was wrong about that. But even if he was, being wrong about factual claims is not and never has been criminal.”

They added, “Dr. Eastman’s position remains that his legal theories, controversial though they may have been, were not unlawful.”

In the filing, Mr. Eastman said he began working for Mr. Trump two months before the 2020 election at the invitation of Cleta Mitchell, a lawyer who the Jan. 6 committee said “promoted false claims of election fraud to members of Congress” and participated in a call in which Mr. Trump tried to pressure Georgia’s secretary of state to “‘find’ enough votes to reverse his loss there.”

Mr. Eastman, Ms. Mitchell and others began preparing to fight the election results well before Election Day, but the effort “kicked into high gear” on Nov. 7 — four days after the election — when Mr. Eastman met with Mr. Trump’s campaign team in Philadelphia to assist with the preparation of an election challenge, the filing said.

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