In a ruling ordering John Eastman, who is alleged to have helped architect the scheme that would have seen Donald Trump's vice president throw out the certified electors from a handful of Biden-won states so as to overturn the November 2020 presidential elections, to turn over evidence to the House select committee investigating the coup, a federal judge determined that Donald Trump himself likely sought to criminally obstruct Congress on that day.
"Because President Trump likely knew that the plan to disrupt the electoral count was wrongful, his mindset exceeds the threshold for acting 'corruptly,'" writes U.S. District Court Judge David Carter.
"Based on the evidence, the Court finds it more likely than not that President Trump corruptly attempted to obstruct the Joint Session of Congress on January 6, 2021."
The ruling also underlines the extraordinary importance of the Jan. 6 investigations: "If Dr. Eastman and President Trump’s plan had worked, it would have permanently ended the peaceful transition of power, undermining American democracy and the Constitution. If the country does not commit to investigating and pursuing accountability for those responsible, the Court fears January 6 will repeat itself."
The ruling forces Eastman to turn over documents he was refusing to provide to the House committee investigating Jan. 6, but has no immediate impact on Donald Trump himself. The Justice Department has access to every fact cited in Carter's ruling and more, but has so far refrained from announcing any charge against Trump, the man at the heart of the coup attempt.