Federal agents seized the cell phone of John Eastman, an attorney who advised former President Donald Trump in his bid to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election, Eastman said in a court filing on Monday.
Eastman filed a lawsuit asking the Justice Department to return his property and destroy any records it had obtained after FBI agents in New Mexico stopped him as he was leaving a restaurant last week. The investigators had a warrant and seized his iPhone, the filing says, and agents were able to access his email accounts.
The lawyer said in the filing the agents “forced” him to unlock the device.
“By its very breadth, the warrant intrudes on significant privacy interests, both of [Eastman] and of others whose communications with him are accessible on the seized cell phone,” his attorneys wrote in the filing, obtained by The Hill.
Eastman was a key figure in developing a plan that would have seen Vice President Mike Pence delay or block certification fo the 2020 Electoral College results, and his work has become a central focus of the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Pence refused to go along with the scheme.
Eastman also spoke at the Jan. 6 rally just before the Capitol attack, where Trump falsely claimed that widespread election fraud had cost him the White House. There is no evidence to support those allegations.
The seizure of Eastman’s phone came the same day federal authorities searched the home of Jeffery Clark, a former Justice Department official under Trump who encouraged the then-president’s efforts to remain in office despite his Electoral College loss to Joe Biden.
Clark had served in the Trump administration as assistant attorney general of the environment and natural resources division but became close to the White House after the 2020 election. At one point, Trump mulled putting Clark in charge of the Justice Department after William Barr resigned after refusing to go along with Trump’s false claims of widespread voter fraud.
The House select committee focused heavily on Eastman’s efforts to aid Trump during its third hearing this month. The body, citing an email he sent to Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani, also noted that Eastman sought to be on the president’s “pardon list.”