Agents Seize Phone of Lawyer Who Promoted Trump’s False Election Claims

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Federal agents last week seized the cellphone of John Eastman, a lawyer who pushed false claims that massive voter fraud tainted the 2020 election and urged President Trump and other Republicans to stop Joe Biden from becoming president.

Eastman’s attorney, Charles Burnham, filed papers in federal court in New Mexico on Monday asking a judge to order the cellphone returned to Eastman. He was seized pursuant to a search warrant as he left a restaurant last Wednesday, a day in which federal agents from across the country served subpoenas, executed search warrants and interviewed witnesses in a significant expansion of the criminal investigations surrounding January 6th.

That same day, federal agents conducted a search of the Northern Virginia home of Jeffrey Clark, a former Justice Department official whom Trump considered appointing to head the department because he was willing to promote a plan to invalidate election results. in some key states.

Both Clark and Eastman played crucial roles in Trump’s efforts in late 2020 and early 2021 to convince state lawmakers in about a half-dozen states to replace voters Biden had won with voters for Trump. In theory, such a replacement would have kept Trump in the White House.

With echoes of Watergate, Trump’s appointees describe the push to nullify the election and keep him in office

Court documents from Monday also suggest the Justice Department’s inspector general has become a major player in the criminal investigations surrounding Jan. 6, because Eastman says his phone was seized by FBI agents acting on behalf of the general Inspector. A spokeswoman for the inspector general declined to comment.

The inspector general is an independent entity tasked with rooting out waste, fraud, and abuse within the Department of Justice. IG’s investigations examine the conduct of current or former department officials, and the bureau’s role in this case suggests it may be reviewing the contents of Eastman’s phone as part of a criminal investigation into Clark or others who were once involved. They worked in the department.

In court documents requesting the return of his phone, Eastman argues that because he was never an employee of the Justice Department, it is “outside the jurisdiction of the OIG.”

Court documents say that when Eastman asked to see the warrant, the request was denied. They frisked him, took the iPhone from him and “forced him to provide biometrics to unlock” the phone, the filing says.

That claim may become a matter of dispute, since the court order for Eastman’s phone explicitly states that Eastman may be asked to voluntarily provide a password or biometrics, but cannot be compelled to provide that information.

The order also suggests that the inspector general’s office is prepared for a legal fight over the contents of the phone, because it contains a provision that the investigative team will not see its contents immediately.

In his own filing, Eastman notes that his phone contains “emails that have been the subject of an intense five-month privilege dispute between the plaintiff and the US House Select Committee to investigate the 6/6 attack.” January to the US Capitol.” The court filing also notes that a federal judge in California previously ruled that some of Eastman’s emails are “protected by First Amendment freedom of association, attorney-client privilege, and/or the work product doctrine.” “.

This is a developing story.

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