Federal investigators obtained a new warrant to search the phone of a Trump-tied lawyer in the January 6 inquiry
- Prosecutors revealed a new search warrant allowing a review of John Eastman's cell phone.
- Federal agents seized the phone last month as Eastman, a pro-Trump lawyer, left a restaurant .
Federal prosecutors revealed Wednesday that the Justice Department has obtained a new search warrant to review the contents of a cell phone seized from John Eastman, a conservative lawyer who helped advise former President Donald Trump on how to overturn the 2020 election results.
In a court filing, prosecutors confirmed that it is still "in possession" of Eastman's phone, a month after seizing it as the Trump-connected lawyer was leaving a restaurant in New Mexico. Prosecutors said investigators later obtained a new warrant — dated July 12 — allowing a review of the iPhone, which the Justice Department's inspector general office has stored in Northern Virginia.
The Justice Department's two-page court filing came in response to a lawsuit Eastman filed in late June, just five days after he was stopped by federal agents, demanding the return of his iPhone. In the lawsuit, Eastman said he was frisked and his "phone—an iPhone Pro 12—was seized" before federal agents provided him with a copy of the search warrant.
Eastman argued that the warrant was "unconstitutionally overbroad" and raised the risk of "improper disclosure of privileged information." But in the court filing Wednesday, the Justice Department said the latest search warrant included a so-called "filter protocol" to sift out privileged material.
The search warrant marks just the latest indication that the Justice Department is stepping up its investigation into Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 election — and closing in on the former president's inner circle.
Federal prosecutors in recent days have directly asked witnesses about Trump's involvement in efforts to overturn his electoral defeat, according to people familiar with the matter and multiple news reports. On Friday, a federal grand jury heard testimony from Marc Short, a onetime top aide to former Vice President Mike Pence, in connection with the investigation into the January 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol and Trump's efforts to overturn the election.
Previously, in testimony to the House committee investigating January 6, Short and Pence's chief counsel, Greg Jacob, recounted how Trump and Eastman pressured the then-vice president to singlehandedly stall or block the certification of Biden's victory. Short and Jacob both attended an Oval Office meeting on January 4, 2021, where Trump had Eastman attempt to explain to Pence how he could take steps to prevent the peaceful transfer of power.
On the same day last month, agents seized Eastman's phone and federal investigators searched the home of Jeffrey Clark, a former Justice Department official who emerged as a key ally for Trump as he pressured top appointees to endorse his baseless claims of election fraud. The Justice Department has also has issued subpoenas in connection with its inquiry into a plan to create so-called fake electors to back Trump in key swing states where now-President Joe Biden prevailed.
In its recent string of public hearings, the House January 6 committee has detailed Eastman's role and played footage of him repeatedly invoking his 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination during a closed-door, recorded interview with the panel.
The committee has also repeatedly pointed to an April court ruling in which a federal judge found that Trump and Eastman likely committed crimes — including obstruction of an official proceeding — in their effort to overturn the election. Judge David Carter characterized the scheme as a "coup in search of a legal theory."
The Justice Department's court filing Wednesday was signed by Thomas Windom, a longtime prosecutor spearheading the investigation into efforts to keep Trump in power following his loss in 2020. Windom was spotted in the federal courthouse in Washington, DC, on Friday — the same day Short testified before the grand jury hearing testimony at that courthouse.
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