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Trump ‘may have engaged in criminal acts’

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The congressional committee investigating the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol says former President Donald Trump may have engaged in criminal conduct in his bid to overturn his election defeat.

“Video evidence and information available to the Committee establishes a good-faith belief that Mr Trump and others may have engaged in criminal and/or fraudulent acts,” the committee said in a court filing on Wednesday.

“The Select Committee also 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,” the filing said.

The document is one of the most detailed releases of findings yet from the committee, and indicates it may formally urge prosecutors to charge Mr Trump with criminal wrongdoing.

The court document was filed in federal court in Los Angeles as part of the US House of Representative Select Committee’s dispute with John Eastman, a lawyer who advised Mr Trump on a plan to invalidate election results in key battleground states.

Mr Eastman sued the committee in December, seeking to block a congressional subpoena requesting that he turn over thousands of emails.

The Select Committee’s members have said they will consider passing along evidence of criminal conduct by Mr Trump to the US Justice Department. Such a move, known as a criminal referral, would be largely symbolic but would increase political pressure on Attorney General Merrick Garland to charge the former president.

Representatives of Mr Eastman and Mr Trump did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Mr Trump has repeatedly called the Select Committee’s inquiry a politically motivated investigation.

The court filing included emails obtained by the Select Committee from the day of the January 6 attack, including one where a lawyer for then-Vice President Mike Pence said no judges would endorse Mr Eastman’s legal strategy for overturning Mr Trump’s election defeat.

“Thanks to your bullshit, we are now under siege,” the Pence lawyer, Greg Jacob, wrote to Mr Eastman.

“The ‘siege’ is because YOU and your boss did not do what was necessary to allow this to be aired in a public way so the American people can see for themselves what happened,” Mr Eastman replied.

The committee’s leaders said in a statement that “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.”

Attorney regulators in California said Tuesday they have been investigating Mr Eastman and whether he acted unethically in his work for Mr Trump. The investigation could lead to disciplinary action against Mr Eastman, such as suspension of his law license.

– AAP

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