Jul 16, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Seizure of ex-Trump attorney's phone in Jan. 6 probe lawful: Judge

Trump attorney John Eastman
John Eastman speaks at a news conference on April 29, 2021. Photo: Andy Cross/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Federal investigators did not act unlawfully when they seized a phone from an attorney who aided former President Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 election, a U.S. district judge in New Mexico wrote in a new opinion Friday.

Driving the news: The investigators, who obtained a warrant, confiscated lawyer John Eastman’s phone in June as a part of a criminal inquiry into the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. Eastman's lawsuit sought to stop them from accessing its contents.

  • DOJ investigators indicated they would seek a second warrant before exploring what is on Eastman’s phone, Judge Robert Brack said in his opinion.

What they’re saying: "The Court is relying to a considerable extent on the assertion in the warrant that the investigative team will not examine the contents of the phone until it seeks a second warrant,” Brack stated.

  • Federal investigators must update the court on the matter before the end of July, he added.

Catch up quick: In June, the FBI seized Eastman’s phone, prompting him to file a legal challenge calling the seizure unlawful.

  • He asked the court to order the investigators to return his phone and destroy copies of any information they found on it.
  • At the time, Eastman's lawyer said FBI agents "forced" him to unlock his phone with his biometric data and used it to access his email accounts.

Background: Eastman pushed a theory that undergirded Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 election: that then-Vice President Mike Pence could single-handedly reject electors.

  • The Jan. 6 select committee revealed in June that Eastman sought a presidential pardon following the Capitol riot.

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