Judge denies Eastman’s request to return phone seized by investigators

A federal judge on Friday rejected a motion by former President Trump’s lawyer John Eastman requesting that the Department of Justice (DOJ) return his phone, which it obtained from a search warrant in June.

Senior U.S. District Judge Robert Brack said in his ruling that Eastman failed to show either irreparable harm from not having possession of his phone or an “inadequate remedy at law.”

Brack previously rejected a Trump lawyer’s motion for a temporary restraining order preventing investigators from accessing his phone in July, ruling that he failed to demonstrate an “immediate, irreparable harm” that would result.

The FBI initially obtained Eastman’s phone while executing a search warrant on him in June. The DOJ obtained a new search warrant for Eastman’s phone in late July after his legal challenge began.

Eastman was mainly involved in Trump’s attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election, behind the argument that former Vice President Mike Pence had the power to refuse to count certain states’ voters during the certification of the vote.

Eastman’s name has repeatedly been mentioned during the public hearings of the House of Commons committee investigating the rebellion on 6 January 2021, which specifically highlighted his role at its third hearing in June.

Eastman argued that the court should order the DOJ to return his phone and keep a copy of “whatever information it could have lawfully sought.” He also said the government’s possession of his phone for more than two months is unreasonable.

But the DOJ argued that Eastman’s claim is without merit since he already purchased a replacement phone and never contacted the government to request the phone’s return. It also pointed out that Eastman previously said he doesn’t need a physical phone.

The government stated that if it received a request for the phone, it would look to reach a reasonable solution with its investigative needs.

Brack said in his ruling that Eastman’s motion is premature, but the court orders both parties to communicate about a “realistic timeline” for the physical phone to be returned.

Brack said Eastman may file an additional motion if the parties cannot agree on the issue.

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