Photograph: Susan Walsh/AP
The United States Department of Justice was justified when seized the cell phone of John Eastman, Donald Trump’s former lawyer, a federal judge in New Mexico ruled Friday.
In its investigation into a plot by the former president and his lawyers to overturn the 2020 election using “false voters,” the Justice Department seized Eastman’s phone on June 22 as he was leaving a restaurant in New Mexico. Eastman, in turn, filed a judicial motion in an attempt to recover the phone from him, arguing that the justice department violated his constitutional rights.
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Federal District Court Judge Robert Brack said in a court document on Friday that the department had the right to seize his cellphone, saying the government had a “substantial interest in investigating the Jan. 6 attacks on Capitol Hill,” which Trump supporters staged the day Congress certified his defeat at the hands of Trump. by Joe Biden. . He noted that the justice department has said it will not search Eastman’s phone until he gets a second warrant to do so.
“The court relies heavily on the warrant’s assertion that the investigative team will not examine the contents of the phone until it requests a second warrant,” the ruling says. Brack gave the justice department until July 27 to update the court on whether he has requested a second arrest warrant.
from the justice department research in the plot to nullify the election, aided by witness testimony at recent committee hearings on the January 6 insurrection, zeroed in on Eastman as a key figure in Trump’s last-minute plan to stay in office. Oval.
Eastman told Trump that Mike Pence, in his role as vice president, could single-handedly interfere with the largely symbolic certification of the electoral college that showed Biden winning the presidential election. Eastman and Trump tried to convince the then vice president to delay the process, but Pence denied that he had the legal right to do so and refused to cooperate.
Pence’s legal advisers told the Jan. 6 committee that he had to avoid mounting pressure from Eastman to agree to the plan.
“There was no basis in the constitution or laws of the United States, whatsoever, for the theory advanced by Mr. Eastman. Absolutely. None,” Michael Luttig, a retired federal judge who served as an adviser to Pence in the weeks after the election. saying the January 6 committee last month.
In a civil case involving Eastman, a federal judge said in March that it appears that both Eastman and Trump committed multiple felonies as they “dishonestly conspired to obstruct the joint session of Congress on January 6, 2021.”