Federal court won’t return Trump attorney’s phone, cancels upcoming hearing on possession of it

John Eastman, a Trump campaign lawyer who has sought to overturn the 2020 election results, said that a search warrant led the FBI to seize his iPhone and search it outside a restaurant last week. Allegedly agents patted Eastman down and seized his iPhone Pro 12 before coercing him to unlock it using facial recognition software. A search warrant was only provided to Eastman after his phone was seized, Eastman claimed. According to Eastman’s court filing, the warrant authorizes the seizure of “any electronic or digital device” and “all information contained therein.”

A prominent speaker at this month’s House Select Committee hearings, Eastman filed a motion in US District Court for the return of his property on January 6, arguing that the warrant violated his Fourth Amendment rights because it was overly broad, non-specific, and lacking probable cause. But, a federal judge in New Mexico canceled the hearing related to Eastman’s attempts to regain access to his phone.

The fact that agents forced him to unlock the iPhone with Face ID, effectively forcing him to “testify,” he said, violated his Fifth Amendment rights. “By its very breadth, the warrant intrudes on significant privacy interests, both of [Eastman] and of others whose communications with him are accessible on the seized cell phone,” Eastman’s lawyers said in the motion. He now disputes whether there is a second warrant allowing investigators to search the contents of his phone.

“Because the Government has not produced the warrant … Eastman does not accept the proffer regarding the warrant’s existence and believes that this creates a contested issue of fact,” Robert Brack, U.S. District Judge detailed in a new filing. But Eastman’s arguments were dismissed by the judge, who said that the Trump lawyer “cannot make a good faith argument that an evidentiary issue on the existence of a warrant remains.”

As a key player in the attempts of Trump to cancel the 2020 election, Eastman wrote memos claiming Vice President Mike Pence may reject state voters and determine the next president himself. The role of Eastman was particularly highlighted by the House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021 riots at its third hearing this month, according to The Hill.

As per the court record, the DOJ confirmed that a second search warrant had been obtained to search the content of the phone. The court, Brack said, would rule on Eastman’s motion on the basis of written information from both sides, not a hearing. In addition to being excessively broad and lacking probable cause, Eastman had challenged the original warrant under the Fourth Amendment.

Concerning his phone, Eastman filed a lawsuit claiming that he wasn’t served with a search warrant until after it was taken. The court denied his attempts to halt the investigation and force the release of the phone. Eastman’s legal team claimed in its original complaint that his seized phone contained “emails that have been the subject of an intense five-month privilege dispute” with the House Select Committee probing the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

This story syndicated with licensed permission from Frank who writes about daily news and politics. Follow Frank on Facebook and Twitter

Notice: This article may contain commentary that reflects the author's opinion.

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