Election Law

Lawyer flubs allowed Politico to access law professor's election-litigation emails

  • Print

Eastman and Giuliani Jan. 6 rally

John Eastman (left) joins lawyer Rudy Giuliani at a Washington, D.C., rally on Jan. 6, 2021, in support of then-President Donald Trump. They spoke before the attack on the U.S. Capitol. Photo by Jacquelyn Martin/The Associated Press.

How did Politico obtain a law professor’s election-litigation emails? It began when a lawyer failed to deactivate a Dropbox link that was created to share documents with the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, U.S. Capitol riot.

Not knowing that the link was still active, the general counsel for the U.S. House of Representatives included the link in attachments to a brief filed with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals at San Francisco, report Politico and the New Republic.

The link was created by lawyers for former Chapman University law professor John Eastman, whose emails were sought by the committee, explained House general counsel Douglas N. Letter in a Nov. 2 letter filed with the 9th Circuit.

“We were not aware that the links in Dr. Eastman’s email remained active and had no intention to provide this type of public access to the materials at this stage,” Letter said. “Providing public access to this material at this point was purely inadvertent on our part.”

As a result of the disclosure, Politico reported that lawyers representing former President Donald Trump thought that U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas was their best bet for obtaining a stay that would hold up the vote count in Georgia. That would possibly delay the congressional vote to certify the 2020 election results.

The eight emails obtained by Politico were sent and received by Eastman. They were sent to the committee as a result of a decision by U.S. District Judge David O. Carter of the Central District of California. He ruled in October that the eight emails could be disclosed, even though they contained attorney-client work product or confidential attorney-client communications.

Carter said the privileged emails could be turned over under the crime-fraud exception because they concerned efforts to disrupt the Jan. 6 vote and knowing misrepresentation of voter-fraud numbers.

Eastman’s lawyers had sent the Dropbox link to the Jan. 6 committee seven minutes before an Oct. 28 deadline after they were unable to obtain an emergency stay of Carter’s order. Now, Eastman is asking the 9th Circuit to order the return or destruction of the emails and to bar their review by the Jan. 6 committee.

See also:

ABAJournal.com: “If DOJ prosecutes Trump, what charges could it bring? Experts consider possibilities”

ABAJournal.com: “Trump and law prof likely ‘dishonestly conspired’ to block election vote count, judge says”

ABAJournal.com: “Law prof’s memo told Pence he could give Trump election win as ‘ultimate arbiter’ in elector count”

ABAJournal.com: “Prove it up: Scholars criticize law prof’s speech about secret folders and say it was unsupported”

ABAJournal.com: “Ex-law prof advised counting mail-in ballots at ‘prorated amount’ to swing Pennsylvania to Trump”

ABAJournal.com: “Former Chapman law prof who wrote ‘coup memo’ faces ethics probe, state bar confirms”

Give us feedback, share a story tip or update, or report an error.