A US judge ruled on Monday that former president Donald Trump “more likely than not” committed a felony by attempting to obstruct Congress when he tried to subvert the 2020 election on January 6, 2021.
US District Judge David Carter in Los Angeles said in his ruling that the congressional committee investigating the attack on the Capitol by Trump supporters could obtain emails written by the former president's lawyer, John Eastman.
“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 judge said in a written decision.
Mr Carter said Mr Trump's alleged plan to overturn his November 2020 election defeat to Joe Biden amounted to a "coup."
Mr Eastman had been trying to withhold documents from the committee on the basis of an attorney-client privilege claim between him and the former president.
The committee responded this month, arguing that there is a legal exception allowing the disclosure of communications regarding ongoing or future crimes.
The March 3 filing from the House of Representatives committee investigating the Capitol attack was their most formal effort to link the former president to a federal crime.
Congress does not have the power to bring criminal charges on its own and can only make a referral to the Justice Department. The department has been investigating last year’s riot, but it has not given any indication that it is considering seeking charges against Mr Trump.
The committee argued in the court documents that Mr Trump and his associates engaged in a “criminal conspiracy” to prevent Congress from certifying Democrat Joe Biden’s victory in the Electoral College.
Mr Trump and those working with him then spread false information about the outcome of the presidential election and pressured state officials to overturn the results, potentially violating multiple federal laws, the panel said.
News agencies contributed to this report