Conservative lawyer John Eastman, who advised the Trump campaign on ways to overturn the 2020 election, is apparently of great interest to the Department of Justice.
On Monday, we learned Eastman had his phone seized by federal investigators in New Mexico last Wednesday. The discovery was made after Eastman filed a motion seeking to have a court return his phone and order officials to destroy what was retrieved from it. Clearly, he’s not happy about the encounter.
Just to refresh your memory: Eastman is alleged to have co-produced the plot to pressure then-Vice President Mike Pence into blocking the certification of the 2020 election results. He pleaded the Fifth more than 100 times during questioning by congressional investigators, and the committee has shared evidence showing he angled for a pardon from Trump.
Now, we add Eastman's name to the list of Trump officials who’ve publicly complained about law enforcement confronting them over their anti-democratic — and seemingly illegal — efforts. Eastman hasn’t been charged with a crime, but the seizure of his phone is likely related to his election-scheming with Trump.
Eastman — like former Trump adviser Peter Navarro and former Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark — joined white nationalist Fox News host Tucker Carlson for a softball interview Monday, during which he discussed his purportedly harrowing encounter with federal authorities. We even saw footage of the moment agents seized his phone.
Put this in the Smithsonian.
The actual interview with Eastman was full of outright lies and hyperbole. He told Carlson he filed a motion in court Monday because the Justice Department “illegally seized” his phone, and he compared the Biden administration to the British kingdom that ruled over American colonists.
Eastman’s claims are absurd. For one, the Supreme Court has affirmed investigators' broad latitude to seize cellphone data as long as they have a subpoena. And while he does have legal avenues to challenge the breadth of a subpoena, as he’s doing, there’s no reason to believe that will result in him getting all of his data back.
Earlier this month, in fact, a federal judge compelled Eastman to turn documents over to the Jan. 6 committee after he sued to withhold them. That judge, U.S. District Judge David O. Carter for the Central District of California, found that some of the documents were protected by attorney-client privilege, but more than 150 others were safe to share with the committee.
And at least one of those documents, Carter said, showed Eastman and the Trump campaign’s effort to “evade judicial review to overturn a democratic election.”
The House Jan. 6 committee is holding its sixth public hearing on Tuesday, June 28 at 1 p.m. ET. Get expert analysis in real-time on our liveblog at msnbc.com/jan6hearings.