Speed Reads

The plot thickens again

Trump Jan. 6 adviser John Eastman says the FBI seized his phone and he wants it back

Last Wednesday, on the same day federal agents searched the Virginia home of former Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark, FBI agents armed with a search warrant took the phone of former law professor John Eastman as he was leaving a restaurant, presumably in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Eastman said in a court filing Monday. Eastman and Clark played integral roles in parallel efforts to keep former President Donald Trump in power after he lost the 2020 election using invalid Electoral College ballots.

In Monday's filing, Eastman's lawyer Charles Burnham asked a judge to make the FBI give Eastman back his iPhone, arguing that the FBI served its warrant on behalf of the Justice Department's Office of the Inspector General and Eastman, who didn't work for the Justice Department, is "outside of the OIG's jurisdiction." Eastman also said the warrant never specified any crimes he may be tied to. 

The DOJ inspector general's office has the authority to investigate any public corruption crimes committed by department officials, and "those investigations can lead to people and places outside the Justice Department," Michael Bromwich, a former DOJ inspector general, tells The New York Times. "There must be a connection between Eastman and someone who worked at the department." 

In this case, the Justice Department inspector general could be investigating Eastman due to his connections to Clark or Ken Klukowski, a Justice Department lawyer who helped Clark write an unsent letter urging Georgia's governor to convene a special legislative session to create "a separate slate of electors supporting Donald J. Trump," citing false "significant concerns" about the validity of the election. 

Klukowski "worked with John Eastman," House Jan. 6 committee vice chair Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) said at a public hearing in which she described Eastman as "one of the primary architects of President Trump's scheme to overturn the election." The committee showed video of Eastman repeatedly invoking his Fifth Amendment right to avoid self-incrimination and shared an email in which he told Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani: "I've decided I should be on the pardon list."

Also last Wednesday, a federal grand jury issued subpoenas to a raft of people who served as false Trump electors or may have information about the fake elector scheme. "The subpoenas," the Times reports, "show that prosecutors are seeking information about lawyers" close to Trump "during the chaotic postelection period," like Eastman, Giuliani, and Wisconsin lawyer Kenneth Chesebro.