• Mon. Sep 25th, 2023


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Federal Agents Seized Phone of John Eastman, Key Figure in Jan. 6 Plan

Federal agents armed with a search warrant have seized the phone of John Eastman, a lawyer who advised former President Donald J. Trump on a key element of the effort to overturn the results of the 2020 election, according to a court filing by Mr. Eastman on Monday.

The filing, a motion to recover property from the government, said that F.B.I. agents in New Mexico, acting on behalf of the Department of Justice’s Office of the Inspector General, stopped Mr. Eastman as he was leaving a restaurant last Wednesday and seized his iPhone. A copy of the warrant included as an exhibit in Mr. Eastman’s filing said that the phone would be taken to the inspector general’s forensic lab in Northern Virginia.

The seizure of Mr. Eastman’s phone last week is the latest evidence that the Justice Department is intensifying its criminal investigation into the various strands of Mr. Trump’s efforts to remain in power after he was defeated in his bid for re-election.

Mr. Eastman, a California law professor, helped develop and promote a plan to justify having Vice President Mike Pence block or delay certification of the Electoral College results establishing Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory in the 2020 election. Mr. Trump and Mr. Eastman pressured Mr. Pence to put the plan into action when Mr. Pence presided over a joint session of Congress on Jan. 6, 2021.

Mr. Pence’s refusal to go along with the scheme helped fuel the violence that overwhelmed the Capitol that day, and became a bloody symbol of Mr. Trump’s efforts to subvert the outcome of the election.

Mr. Eastman was also instrumental in advising Mr. Trump to create purported slates of electors backing Mr. Trump in key swing states that had won by Mr. Biden.

The seizure of Mr. Eastman’s phone appears to have come on the same day that federal agents also seized the phone of Jeffrey Clark, a former Justice Department official who was central to Mr. Trump’s attempts to coerce the country’s top prosecutors into backing his false claims of fraud in the election.

Both Mr. Eastman and Mr. Clark have been central characters in public hearings this month by the House select committee on Jan. 6. But the search warrants for their phones indicate that the Justice Department is also now interested in communications the two men may have had pertaining to a broad criminal investigation into Mr. Trump’s various attempts to stay in power.