Judge: Trump Lawyer Must Vet 1,500 Pages of Records Daily for Jan. 6 Panel In this March 16, 2017 file photo, Chapman School of Law professor John Eastman testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)
By Charlie McCarthy | Thursday, 27 January 2022 09:32 AM
A federal judge Wednesday night ruled that former President Donald Trump's lawyer must review at least 1,500 pages of records per business day and immediately transfer any unprivileged documents to the House Jan. 6 committee.
Judge David Carter, of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, ordered attorney John Eastman to begin producing pages to congressional investigators beginning Friday, Politico reported.
Any documents Eastman deems privileged must be given to Carter. If the committee challenges the lawyer's claim, the judge will review the records to determine whether the assertion was valid before holding a hearing to adjudicate the privilege disputes.
"Dr. Eastman shall use an electronic discovery program to facilitate efficient production and privilege log creation,” the judge wrote, adding that the panel would cover costs for the program.
Carter earlier rejected Eastman's attempt to block the committee’s subpoena for 19,000 pages of emails held by his former employer, Chapman University. Eastman has claimed that many of the emails relate to his legal clients and therefore be subject to potential attorney-client privilege.
The Wednesday night ruling showed that Carter is taking a more hands-on approach than any federal judge so far to assist the Jan. 6 select committee’s effort to access specific documents from a reluctant witness.
Politico said Carter repeatedly has expressed support for Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s partisan panel – comprised of Democrats and two anti-Trump Republicans – that is investigating events surrounding the attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
Carter has ruled in the committee’s favor on three successive days.
The judge's latest ruling came after House counsel Doug Letter had accused Eastman of refusing to act quickly after Carter ruled Tuesday that the Trump ally should quickly begin reviewing and providing documents to the committee.
"The Select Committee is concerned about the pace of Plaintiff’s review," Letter wrote in an update to the court Wednesday afternoon, Politico reported. "This Court ordered Plaintiff to begin work on production and creating a privilege log on Tuesday, January 25, by 12:00 pm Pacific, yet it appears that Plaintiff has not even begun reviewing the documents at issue."
Eastman's attorneys, Charles Burnham and Anthony Caso, countered that their client received a cluster of documents from Chapman University on Tuesday, and he had been in flight and unable to immediately download them.
The lawyers said Eastman was also unable to immediately access the documents "due to the size of the file" and was unable to begin reviewing any materials until 10 p.m. Tuesday, Politico reported.
"Plaintiff strongly disputes any suggestion from the congressional defendants that he has undertaken this privilege review with anything other than the greatest dispatch," Burnham wrote, Politico said.
Carter has asked both sides to provide an update on Friday.