Former President Donald J. Trump signed a document swearing under oath that information in a Georgia lawsuit he filed challenging the results of the 2020 election was true even though his own lawyers had told him it was false, a federal judge wrote on Wednesday.
The accusation came in a ruling by the judge, David O. Carter, ordering John Eastman, the conservative lawyer who strategized with the former president about overturning the election, to hand over 33 more emails to the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. Judge Carter, who serves with the Federal District Court for the Central District of California, determined that the emails contained possible evidence of criminal behavior.
“The emails show that President Trump knew that the specific numbers of voter fraud were wrong but continued to tout those numbers, both in court and to the public,” Judge Carter wrote. He added in a footnote that the suit contained language saying Mr. Trump was relying on information provided to him by others.
The committee has fought for months to get access to hundreds of Mr. Eastman’s emails, viewing him as the intellectual architect of plans to subvert the 2020 election, including Mr. Trump’s effort to pressure Vice President Mike Pence to block or delay congressional certification of the Electoral College results on Jan. 6, 2021. Repeatedly, the panel has argued that a “crime-fraud exception” pierces the typical attorney-client privilege that often protects communications between lawyers and clients.
The emails in question, which were dated between Nov. 3, 2020, and Jan. 20, 2021, came from Mr. Eastman’s account at Chapman University, where he once served as a law school dean.
Judge Carter wrote on Wednesday that the crime-fraud exception applied to a number of the emails related to Mr. Trump and Mr. Eastman’s “efforts to delay or disrupt the Jan. 6 vote” and “their knowing misrepresentation of voter fraud numbers in Georgia when seeking to overturn the election results in federal court.”
Judge Carter found four emails that “demonstrate an effort by President Trump and his attorneys to press false claims in federal court for the purpose of delaying the Jan. 6 vote.”
In one of them, Mr. Trump’s lawyers advised him that simply having a challenge to the election pending in front of the Supreme Court could be enough to delay the final tally of Electoral College votes from Georgia.
“This email,” Judge Carter wrote, “read in context with other documents in this review, make clear that President Trump filed certain lawsuits not to obtain legal relief, but to disrupt or delay the Jan. 6 congressional proceedings through the courts.”
Another email was related to the lawsuit Mr. Trump and his lawyers filed in Fulton County, Ga., in December 2020, contending that thousands of votes had been improperly counted and citing specific numbers of dead people, felons and unregistered voters who had cast ballots.
In one email ordered for release, Mr. Eastman made plain his view that Mr. Trump should not sign a document making specific claims about voter fraud in the county because his legal team had learned they were inaccurate.
“Although the president signed a verification for [the state court filing] back on Dec. 1, he has since been made aware that some of the allegations (and evidence proffered by the experts) has been inaccurate,” Mr. Eastman wrote. “For him to sign a new verification with that knowledge (and incorporation by reference) would not be accurate.”
But Mr. Trump did sign a new verification, on Dec. 31, 2020, after the suit was moved to federal court. The suit included a caveat that the voter fraud figures it used were to be relied upon “only to the extent” that “such information has been provided” to Mr. Trump’s legal team; the suit also stated that such data was subject to “amendment” or “adjustment.”
The episode was the latest example of how Mr. Trump was repeatedly told that his claims of widespread voter fraud were false and often pressed forward with them anyway. His attorney general at the time, William P. Barr, informed him at least three times that his accusations about fraud were unfounded, as did other top officials at the Justice Department, the White House Counsel’s Office and the Trump campaign.
Judge Carter’s ruling came as part of a federal lawsuit Mr. Eastman filed at the beginning of the year, seeking to bar the committee from obtaining his emails as part of its inquiry into Mr. Trump’s efforts to overturn the election.
In a previous ruling, issued in March, Judge Carter offered a sweeping analysis of how Mr. Trump and Mr. Eastman most likely committed felonies, including obstructing the work of Congress on Jan. 6 and conspiring to defraud the United States.
Mr. Eastman has also been a focus of the Justice Department’s investigation into Jan. 6 and the months leading up to it.
In June, federal agents seized Mr. Eastman’s phone as part of what appears to be a broad grand jury inquiry into Mr. Trump’s role in intersecting schemes to stay in power, including a plan to create fake slates of pro-Trump electors in states that were won by Joseph R. Biden Jr. A flurry of subpoenas issued by the grand jury, sitting in Washington, named Mr. Eastman and several other lawyers close to Mr. Trump as subjects of interest.