The FBI seized the phone of former President Donald Trump’s election lawyer John Eastman last week, according to a new court case of the conservative lawyer.
Eastman disclosed the search and seizure in federal court in a lawsuit he filed Monday in New Mexico, calling it improper.
The revelation highlights the aggressive actions taken by the Department of Justice in recent weeks as part of its ongoing criminal investigation.
Federal agents from the Department of Justice’s Office of Inspector General, which is coordinating the larger investigation by the FBI and US attorneys into January 6, 2021, raided the home of the former official last week. DOJ, Jeffrey Clark, a source familiar with CNN told. This search – in which the participation of the inspector general of the Department of Justice had not previously been reported – took place on the same day as that of Eastman.
The Inspector General investigates allegations of violations of law by Department of Justice employees and has the ability to conduct searches and seizures. After investigation, the Inspector General may refer possible criminal cases to prosecutors.
Eastman’s attorneys cited a reference in the warrant to the inspector general’s office potentially analyzing the contents of the phone, though it’s unclear to what extent the watchdog might be involved in his case.
Neither Eastman nor Clark have been charged with any crime.
Clark’s attorneys did not respond to requests for comment. A spokesperson for the DOJ Inspector General’s Office declined to comment on Monday.
Last Wednesday, about six federal investigators approached Eastman in New Mexico as he was leaving a restaurant after having dinner with his wife and a friend, according to court documents. He was searched and “forced to provide [facial] biometric data to open” the phone, according to Eastman’s court filing.
Officers were able to access Eastman’s email accounts on his iPhone 12 Pro, according to the documents.
Eastman is the latest person whose communications have been part of extensive Justice Department investigations related to the January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol.
Eastman claims officers “forced” him to unlock his phone.
In court, he asks a federal judge to force the Justice Department to return his property, destroy the records they obtained, and suspend investigators’ access to the phone.
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