In another major escalation of the Department of Justice’s criminal inquiry into the effort to overturn the 2020 election in the last days of Donald Trump’s presidency, federal agents have seized the phone of John Eastman, the attorney who sketched out how Republicans could stop the election certification on January 6, 2021.
According to a court filing by Eastman on Monday, FBI agents working on behalf of the Department of Justice’s Office of the Inspector General seized his iPhone 12 Pro as he was leaving a restaurant in New Mexico last Wednesday. The filing, a motion to recover property from the government, indicates that agents were able to get access to the email accounts on his phone, as Eastman claims agents “forced” him to unlock it. According to the warrant Eastman included in the motion, the phone was taken to the inspector general’s forensic lab in northern Virginia.
The seizure of Eastman’s phone took place the same day Feds subpoenaed the Georgia Republican Party chairman, a Georgia GOP official, a Trump campaign official in Arizona, and a Trump campaign official in Michigan over plans to gin up fake electors to skew the Electoral College count in Trump’s favor. It also took place the same day federal agents searched the home of Jeffrey Clark, a DOJ official during the Trump administration who helped create the plan to fabricate the fake electors.
Clark and Eastman have been frequently mentioned in the televised House hearings on the plot to stop the election certification on January 6; the same-day seizures suggest the DOJ criminal inquiry may be interested in any communications between the two. During the hearings this past month, House select-committee members have tried to show the influence Eastman had over Trump while revealing how many others in the administration thought his plan was nuts. One White House attorney, Eric Herschmann, advised Eastman on January 6 to “get a great fucking criminal defense lawyer.” Instead of that route, Eastman “decided” in an email days later that he “should be on the pardon list, if that is still in the works.”