U.S. gets warrant to search phone of Trump's election attorney John Eastman

FILE PHOTO: U.S. House holds public hearing on Jan. 6, 2021, assault on Capitol
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By Kanishka Singh

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Justice Department said on Wednesday it got a warrant to search the phone of former President Donald Trump's election attorney, John Eastman, who spoke at a rally before the Jan. 6, 2021 assault on the U.S. Capitol.

Federal agents in June seized Eastman's phone based on a warrant authorizing them to take the device. They needed a second warrant to search the phone's contents.

In a filing with U.S. District Court in New Mexico, Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Windom said the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on July 12 issued a search warrant authorizing review of the phone's contents and manual screen capture.

He said federal agents in northern Virginia had the phone and screenshots of some of its contents.

Eastman has been under intense scrutiny in the probes into the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol by Trump supporters after the former president falsely claimed that he had won the 2020 election. Eastman spoke at the rally where Trump gave a fiery speech alleging election fraud and urging supporters to march on the Capitol.

Eastman also wrote a memo outlining how, in his view, then-Vice President Mike Pence could thwart formal congressional certification of Trump's re-election loss. Pence ultimately declined to follow Eastman's advice.

Wednesday's filing was made in New Mexico because Eastman had previously filed a suit there asking a judge to order the Justice Department to return the phone, destroy records and block investigators from accessing the phone.

The judge denied that request but ordered the government to update the court by Wednesday on the location of the phone and status of a second search warrant.

A representative for Eastman was not immediately available for comment.

(Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Washington; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)