(WHTM) — The FBI seized the cellphone of Pennsylvania Congressman Scott Perry, who is now suing to stop them from looking at the information they have obtained. He calls the seizure “banana republic tactics,” but legal experts aren’t so sure.
In the 16-page suit, Perry argues that irreparable harm would be done if his phone is scrutinized by the FBI. He cites congressional privilege, attorney-client privilege, and marital privilege as reasons the seized data should be returned unexamined.
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Perry added, “federal agents should not be given carte blanche to root around in rep perry’s phone data looking for evidence that they hope might further their investigation.”
Perry’s frustration is palpable. He adds, “there’s absolutely nothing I can do about the overreach and abuse of power by the Biden administration.”
With an election in just over two months, Perry claims the investigation and phone seizure are political, not criminally, motivated. Perry says it is hard to argue otherwise.
“He can contend that it’s politically motivated but that’s just so much chatter in my view. he’s gonna have to come up with a good legal theory,” said John Jones, Dickinson College President and a former federal judge.
Jones says it is premature to ask a court to return seized material until it is clear what it is and why it was seized in the first place.
“I think it’s putting the proverbial cart before the horse. and it’s what’s called a collateral attack in a criminal proceeding and it’s generally something the courts won’t get involved in,” Jones said.
The end of the suit asks that if the FBI is given access that it be limited access in part because it “contains the most intimately personal information.”
New information in the lawsuit shows that Perry was vacationing in New Jersey with family when the FBI showed up took the phone to DC, analyzed it, and returned it the same day.
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Perry’s phone appeared to have been seized in connection with the DOJ’s probe into the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot following the seizure of the phones of two attorneys working closely with former President Trump to overturn the results of the 2020 election.
“Make no mistake, the seizure of my phone has nothing to do with January 6, 2021, and everything to do with November 8, 2022. This breathtaking abuse of power by President Biden and his enablers will never deter me from protecting Constitutional Rights for all Americans, and pushing back against these banana republic tactics from a failed and floundering administration,” Congressman Perry said in a statement shared with abc27’s Dennis Owens.
Perry introduced Trump to Jeffrey Clark, then an assistant attorney general at the DOJ. Trump at the time weighed installing Clark, who was willing to forward investigations into Trump’s baseless claims of election fraud, as attorney general.
The suit was filed in court last week, a little over a week after his phone was seized, but was not publicly docketed until Tuesday.
Since the lawsuit, Perry’s attorneys confirmed with abc27 that they think they have agreed on a process with the feds to examine some information on Perry’s phone, but say if things go awry they will push forward with the lawsuit.