Trump appointed judge denies Mike Lindell’s bid to get his phone back from the FBI

‘Premature disclosure of these materials would significantly undermine the Government’s ongoing criminal investigation,’ judge says

Gustaf Kilander
Friday 04 November 2022 17:05 GMT
Related video: MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell says he’s handing out pillows to those affected by Hurricane Ian

A Trump-appointed judge has denied Mike Lindell’s bid to get his phone back from the FBI.

The MyPillow CEO’s device was seized by federal law enforcement in September.

The Department of Justice was justified in taking Mr Lindell’s phone, US District Court Judge Eric Tostrud ruled on Thursday, Politico reported.

The phone was seized in connection to a probe into a breach of voting systems in Colorado following the election in 2020.

Mr Lindell has long been a supporter of former President Donald Trump’s lies that the 2020 election was rigged as well as the attempts to overturn the results.

Mr Lindell hasn’t been charged with any crimes.

The St Paul, Minnesota judge also rejected Mr Lindell’s attempt to get ahold of the affidavit that motivated the seizure of his phone.

The judge said the 80-page affidavit was “extensive”, and that it includes information on secret informants and witnesses.

He added that information concerning “recorded communications” was also included in the document.

The judge said if details were revealed, it could interfere with the investigation, Politico noted.

“Premature disclosure of these materials would significantly undermine the Government’s ongoing criminal investigation, giving Plaintiffs (and potentially, other targets of the investigation) a window into the Government’s investigation that could compromise the investigation as a whole,” Judge Tostrud said in an order measuring 36 pages, adding that there wasn’t a practical ability to hand over a redacted affidavit to Mr Lindell.

Mr Lindell revealed that his phone had been seized not long after the law enforcement action. He said agents had approached at the drive-through of a Hardee’s in Mankato, Minnesota.

He has claimed that the seizure went against his constitutional rights and that he should be allowed to see the FBI’s justification and restrain the government from using it to advance the investigation.

But Judge Tostrud countered that Mr Lindell hadn’t provided sufficient reason for those actions.

The judge said Mr Lindell would be able to challenge the seizure and the justification for the warrant if he ends up being indicted.

“Against Plaintiffs’ unsupported allegations of constitutional violations and conclusory assertions of harm, the Government has a significant interest in effective law enforcement and prompt resolution of criminal matters,” Judge Tostrud wrote in his ruling. “These interests would be harmed significantly, and criminal investigations and proceedings would be delayed, if litigants were allowed to use civil litigation to collaterally attack ongoing criminal investigations and proceedings.”

The judge also appeared to push back against a ruling connected to the FBI’s Mar-a-Lago records seizure.

He quoted from a ruling by an appeals court that rolled back parts of US District Court Judge Aileen Cannon’s decision to temporarily block investigators from accessing records at Mr Trump’s private Florida club in August.

He wrote that there “is ‘a sound and well-established principle that a court should not exercise its equitable powers to interfere with or enjoin an ongoing criminal investigation when the defendant will have the opportunity to challenge any defects in the prosecution in the trial court or on direct appeal’”.

Judge Tostrud emphasised that challenges can be made after the issuing of an indictment.

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