Federal agents seized the phone of John Eastman, a lawyer advising former President Donald Trump in his bid to overturn the 2020 presidential election, Eastman said in a court filing on Monday.
Eastman filed a lawsuit seeking the Justice Department to return his property and destroy any records obtained after FBI agents in New Mexico stopped him as he was leaving a restaurant last week. Investigators had a search warrant and seized his iPhone, the documents said, and they were able to gain access to his email account.
Agents “forced” him to unlock the device, lawyers said in the filing.
“In its breadth, the search warrant violated the significant privacy interests of [Eastman] and others because their communications with him were available through seized cell phones,” his lawyers wrote in the filing.
Eastman was a key figure in developing a plan that would allow Vice President Mike Pence to delay or block certification of the 2020 Electoral College results, whose work has become part of the investigation into the U.S. Capitol Jan. 6, 2021 A central focus of the insurgent House select committee. Pence refused to cooperate with the plan.
On the same day that Eastman’s phone was seized, federal authorities searched the home of Jeffrey Clark, a former Justice Department official under Trump who lost the Electoral College to Joe Biden. But he encouraged the then-president to work hard to stay in office.
Clark served as assistant attorney general for the environment and natural resources in the Trump administration, but was close to the White House after the 2020 election. Trump mulled over putting Clark in charge of the Justice Department after William Barr resigned for refusing to cooperate with Trump’s false claims about widespread voter fraud.
The House select committee focused on Eastman’s efforts to assist Trump at its third hearing this month. Citing an email he sent to Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani, the agency also noted that Eastman sought to be on the president’s “pardon list.”