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Jan. 6 panel says it has evidence Trump broke laws in trying to overturn the election

Former President Donald Trump speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference Saturday in Orlando, Fla.
John Raoux
Former President Donald Trump speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference Saturday in Orlando, Fla.

Updated March 2, 2022 at 10:58 PM ET

The Democratic-led House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol says the evidence it has leads to the conclusion that then-President Donald Trump broke the law in his effort to overturn the 2020 election.

The revelation was detailed in a court filing Wednesday evening. The filing was part of a court case tied to lawyer John Eastman, who has been fighting a subpoena issued by the panel to share additional documents.

Eastman was a key figure in efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election, sharing a memo detailing how then-Vice President Mike Pence could reject Joe Biden's win as he presided over the counting of the electoral votes.

Eastman, the select committee says, has tried to keep some records hidden from the investigation, citing privilege claims.

"The Select Committee's brief refutes on numerous grounds the privilege claims Dr. Eastman has made to try to keep hidden records critical to our investigation," committee Chair Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., and Vice Chair Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., said in a joint statement.

The panel says the evidence it has accumulated points to Trump and his allies illegally obstructing an official proceeding — Congress' counting of the Electoral College votes. The committee adds in the filing that it "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 details:

"The evidence supports an inference that President Trump, Plaintiff, and several others entered into an agreement to defraud the United States by interfering with the election certification process, disseminating false information about election fraud, and pressuring state officials to alter state election results and federal officials to assist in that effort."

Trump faces potential criminal charges in Georgia for his efforts to try to overturn the election results there.

Thompson and Cheney note that their legislative committee is not conducting a criminal investigation, though such allegations could ramp up pressure on the Department of Justice to pursue charges on its own.

Republicans have decried the committee as a partisan attack on Trump.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Claudia Grisales is a congressional reporter assigned to NPR's Washington Desk.