What We Know About Phone Seizure of Trump Ally Scott Perry

GOP congressman's phone was taken by the FBI
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 11, 2022 11:16 AM CDT
Trump Ally's Phone Seizure Suggests DOJ Inquiry Is Heating Up
Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., questions Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Capitol Hill in Washington on April 28.   (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)

Three FBI agents took the rare step of seizing the cellphone of a sitting member of Congress on Tuesday. Republican Rep. Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, a five-term congressman and chair of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, has claimed the seizure is tied to the search of Trump's home in Florida, prompted by an investigation into the handling of presidential records, per Politico. But according to CNN and the Washington Post, it's instead tied to the Justice Department's criminal investigation into the effort to overturn President Biden's 2020 election victory. More:

  • Perry reportedly introduced Trump to Clark and pushed for the little-known official to replace Jeffrey Rosen as acting attorney general. Messages revealed through the House Select Committee's investigation show he repeatedly asked White House chief of staff Mark Meadows to contact Clark.
  • At the time, Clark was preparing an official letter urging Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp to call a special legislative session to create "a separate slate of electors supporting Donald J. Trump," per the Times. Rosen had been far less receptive to Trump's claims of election interference.

  • Perry, who voted against certifying Pennsylvania's election results on Jan. 6, also discussed strategies for keeping Trump in power during a Dec. 21, 2020, meeting with lawmakers in the House Freedom Caucus, per Politico. According to Cassidy Hutchinson, a former top aide to Meadows, Perry was among five Republican lawmakers who later sought pardons, though Perry has denied that.
  • He was a huge backer of Trump's claims. The congressman, who has a history "of promoting baseless conspiracies," backed the the wild claim that "an Italian defense contractor conspired with the CIA to use military satellites to change votes for Trump to ones for Biden," per the Post.

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  • Given the Constitution's "speech and debate" clause, which protects speech by members of Congress during the course of their legislative duties, seizing a phone "from a sitting member of Congress indicates the level of probable cause [the DOJ possesses] as to the false-elector scheme," Norman Eisen, co-counsel for the House Judiciary Committee during Trump's first impeachment, tells the Post.
  • But Perry lawyer John Irving said Wednesday that he'd been informed that Perry was considered a witness, rather than a target in the investigation. "Perry has directed us to cooperate with the Justice Department in order to ensure that it gets the information it is entitled to, but to also protect information that it is not entitled to," he added, per Politico.
(More Justice Department stories.)

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