Former Trump lawyer John Eastman has phone seized by FBI

Law enforcement officials made moves across the US as part of probes into efforts by Mr Trump's allies to overturn the November 2020 election

Lawyer John Eastman says FBI agents took his phone as he left a restaurant on Wednesday evening. AP
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A lawyer who supported former US president Donald Trump’s efforts to undo the 2020 election results has said FBI agents seized his mobile phone last week.

John Eastman, who has repeatedly been cited in House hearings into the January 6, 2021 assault on the Capitol, said in a court filing on Monday that agents took his phone as he left a restaurant on Wednesday evening.

Law enforcement officials made similar moves across the US as part of investigations into efforts by Mr Trump's allies to overturn the November 2020 election.

On January 6 last year, Trump loyalists stormed the Capitol building to stop the certification of the election results.

Mr Eastman said the agents who approached him identified themselves as FBI agents, but appeared to be serving a warrant on behalf of the Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General. He said the office has no jurisdiction to investigate him since he has never worked for the department.

He said the seized phone contained emails that have been the subject of a months-long dispute between him and the House panel.

“That litigation has received extensive media attention, so it is hard to imagine that the Department of Justice, which apparently submitted the application for the warrant at issue here, was not aware of it,” wrote his lawyers, Charles Burnham and Joseph Gribble.

The action was disclosed in a filing in federal court in New Mexico in which Mr Eastman challenges the legitimacy of the warrant, calling it overly broad, and asks that a court force the federal government to return his phone. He says the warrant does not specify any particular crime for which evidence from the phone might be relevant.

The filing does not specify where exactly agents seized his phone, though the warrant was signed by a federal magistrate judge in New Mexico and footage of the seizure aired by Fox News on Monday night describes it as having occurred in the city of Santa Fe.

Lawyers for Mr Eastman did not immediately return an email seeking comment.

Federal agents investigating the run-up to the January 6 riot last week served multiple subpoenas related to a scheme by Mr Trump allies to put forward alternate, or fake, slates of electors in hopes of invalidating the election won by Democrat Joe Biden.

Agents also searched the Virginia home of Jeffrey Clark, a Trump Justice Department official who encouraged Trump’s challenges of the election results.

A spokeswoman for the inspector general’s office declined to comment.

Mr Eastman, who last year resigned his position as a law professor at Chapman University, has been a central figure in the continuing hearings by the House committee investigating the riot at the Capitol, though he has not been among the witnesses to testify.

Updated: June 28, 2022, 12:28 PM