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Judge Says Trump Likely Committed Crimes In Plan to Block Vote Tally

A federal judge in California ruled that former President Trump and a lawyer who advised him on how to overturn the 2020 election most likely had committed felonies, including obstructing the work of Congress and conspiring to defraud the U.S., the New York Times reports. The judge’s observations in a civil case involving lawyer John Eastman marked a breakthrough for the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol. The committee is weighing making a criminal referral to the Justice Department. The judge’s ruling had no immediate, practical legal effect on Trump. It ratified the committee’s argument that Trump’s efforts to block Congress from certifying Joe Biden's Electoral College victory could rise to the level of a criminal conspiracy.

“The illegality of the plan was obvious,” wrote Judge David Carter of the Central District of California. “Our nation was founded on the peaceful transition of power, epitomized by George Washington laying down his sword to make way for democratic elections. Ignoring this history, President Trump vigorously campaigned for the vice president to single-handedly determine the results of the 2020 election.” DOJ has been conducting a major investigation of the Capitol assault but has given no public indication that it is considering a criminal case against Trump. A criminal referral from the House committee could increase pressure on Attorney General Merrick Garland to do so. This week, the panel has lined up testimony from four top Trump White House officials, including Jared Kushner, the former president’s son-in-law and adviser. The committee voted to recommend criminal contempt of Congress charges against Peter Navarro, a former Trump White House adviser, and Dan Scavino Jr., a former deputy chief of staff for their participation in efforts to overturn the 2020 election and their subsequent refusal to comply with the panel’s subpoenas.

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