Federal agents armed with search warrants seized the phone of John Eastman, a lawyer who advised former President Donald J. Trump on key elements of the attempt to reverse the results of the 2020 election, according to a court file of Mr Eastman on Monday.
The seizure of Mr Eastman’s phone is the latest evidence that the Justice Department is stepping up its extensive criminal investigation into various aspects of Mr Trump’s efforts to stay in power after he was defeated for reelection.
In the past week alone, the grand jury division has issued subpoenas to several figures with a role in supporting Mr Trump’s efforts and has conducted at least one other search for a key figure.
Mr. Eastman’s filing of a motion to reclaim government property said FBI agents in New Mexico, acting on behalf of the Justice Department’s Inspector General, stopped Mr. Eastman when he was arrested last Wednesday. left a restaurant and confiscated his iPhone.
A copy of the warrant that is provided as evidence with the application of Mr. Eastman said the phone would be taken to the Department of Justice or the inspector general’s forensics lab in Northern Virginia.
According to the filing, the seizure of Mr. Eastman’s phone occurred the same day federal agents raided the home and seized the electronic devices belonging to Jeffrey Clark, a former Justice Department official who was central to the efforts of the Mr Trump to force department leaders to back his false claims of election fraud.
The Inspector General’s office, which has jurisdiction over investigations into Justice Department employees, has also issued the warrant for the search of Mr Clark’s home, a person familiar with the investigation said. The warrant indicated that prosecutors are investigating Mr. Clark on charges that include conspiracy to obstruct the certification of the presidential election, the person familiar with the investigation said.
A spokesman for the US law firm in Washington, which oversees the investigation, declined to comment on Mr Eastman’s file.
With Mr. Eastman and Mr. Clark, the department is gathering information on two attorneys who were in close contact with Mr Trump through a pro-Trump mob in the critical weeks before the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol.
The advice they gave to Mr. Trump included separate but seemingly intersecting proposals to provide him with a means of averting his defeat, with Mr. Clark focusing on using the Justice Department’s power on behalf of the United States. Mr Trump and Mr Eastman focused on disrupting congressional certification of the election results.
The search warrant issued by the Inspector General’s office on Mr. Eastman, may have been issued because of his connections to Mr. Clark, who were briefly mentioned at a hearing by the House select committee on Jan. 6 last week, a day after the robberies of the two men.
During the hearing, Representative Liz Cheney, a Wyoming Republican and the panel’s vice chair, said Ken Klukowski, a Justice Department attorney who interacted with Mr. Eastman, also helped Mr. Clark draft a letter. to Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, falsely claiming that the Justice Department had signaled “significant concerns” about the “outcome of the elections” in Georgia and several other states.
The letter further recommended that Mr. Kemp convene a special session of the state legislature to “create a separate list of voters who support Donald J. Trump.”
Mr. Klukowski, who served briefly under Mr. Clark in the Justice Department and previously worked in the White House budget office, “also worked with John Eastman,” Ms. Cheney said at the hearing. She further described Mr Eastman as “one of the key architects of President Trump’s plan to undo the election”.
The Inspector General’s office has the authority to investigate all public corruption crimes committed by Justice Department personnel, said Michael R. Bromwich, a former Department Inspector General during the Clinton administration.
“Those investigations could lead to people and places outside the Justice Department,” Bromwich said. “There must be a connection between Eastman and someone who worked in the department.”
Key Revelations from the January 6 Hearings
Mr. Eastman, a former California law professor, helped develop and promote a brutal plan to justify single-handedly certifying the Electoral College results, proving Joseph’s victory, by Vice President Mike Pence. R. Biden Jr. in the 2020 elections shows, blocks or postpones . In a series of meetings and phone calls, Mr. Trump and Mr. Eastman pressured Mr. Pence to put the plan into practice when Mr. Pence chaired a joint session of Congress on January 6, 2021.
Mr. Pence’s refusal to go along helped fuel the violence that overwhelmed the Capitol that day and became a bloody symbol of Mr. Trump’s efforts to undermine the outcome of the election. Earlier this year, a federal judge in California considering a civil suit over the release of Mr. Eastman’s emails to the House Select Committee concluded that Mr. Eastman and Mr. Trump most likely committed two crimes: obstruction of Congressional proceedings and a conspiracy to defraud the United States—for their joint role in the campaign of pressure against Mr. pennies.
Mr. Eastman was also instrumental in advising Mr. Trump to prepare alleged voter lists that support Mr. Trump in key Mr. Biden-winning states. These false pro-Trump voters were designed to give Mr. Pence a quasi-legal reason for delaying or blocking the Electoral College certification on Jan. 6, or even throwing the election to the House of Representatives.
Last week, a federal grand jury in Washington subpoenaed several people who prosecutors believe have information about the so-called bogus electoral plan. Among those who received subpoenas were top Republicans in key swing states who served as allegedly pro-Trump voters, including Kelli Ward, the chairman of the Arizona Republican Party, and David Shafer, the chairman of the Georgia Republican Party.
The subpoenas, some of which were obtained by DailyExpertNews, show prosecutors are seeking information about attorneys like Mr Eastman who were close to Mr Trump during the chaotic post-election period. The subpoenas are also seeking information on other attorneys such as Rudolph W. Giuliani, who oversaw Trump’s election challenges in general, and Kenneth Chesebro, who wrote legal memos detailing the viability of the bogus electoral plan.
In Mr. Eastman’s court papers filed in federal court in New Mexico, he says the search warrant did not specify what the underlying crime prosecutors were investigating by confiscating his phone.
On Monday night, Mr. Eastman appeared on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show and discussed the seizure of his phone, reiterating his complaint that the warrant never specified what violation of the law the prosecutors were investigating.
“There was no evidence of a crime related to this,” he said.
Adam Goldman reporting contributed.