WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. Rep. Scott Perry said his cellphone was seized Tuesday morning by FBI agents carrying a search warrant.
The circumstances surrounding the seizure were not immediately known. Perry, though, has been a figure in the congressional investigation into President Donald Trump’s actions leading up to the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol insurrection.
Former senior Justice Department officials have testified that Perry, a Pennsylvania Republican, had “an important role” in Trump’s effort to try to install Jeffrey Clark — a top Justice official who was pushing Trump’s baseless claims of election fraud — as the acting attorney general.
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In a statement Tuesday, Perry said three agents visited him while he was traveling Tuesday with his family and “seized my cell phone.”
“This morning, while traveling with my family, 3 FBI agents visited me and seized my cell phone. They made no attempt to contact my lawyer, who would have made arrangements for them to have my phone if that was their wish. I’m outraged – though not surprised – that the FBI under the direction of Merrick Garland’s Department of Justice, would seize the phone of a sitting Member of Congress. My phone contains information about my legislative and political activities, and personal/private discussions with my wife, family, constituents, and friends. None of this is the government’s business. As with President Trump last night, DOJ chose this unnecessary and aggressive action instead of simply contacting my attorneys. These kinds of banana republic tactics should concern every Citizen – especially considering the decision before Congress this week to hire 87,000 new IRS agents to further persecute law-abiding Citizens.”Rep. Scott Perry
The lawmaker, representing Pennsylvania’s 10th District, was cited more than 50 times in a Senate Judiciary report released in October 2021 outlining how Trump’s effort to overturn his election defeat to Joe Biden brought the Justice Department to the brink of chaos and prompted top officials there and at the White House to threaten to resign.
“I have to believe that a search warrant that involves a United States Congressman went all the way to the top and to (Attorney General) Merrick Garland’s desk,” said Dickinson College President and former federal judge John Jones. “They believe that had they given advance notice something might have been destroyed or otherwise scrubbed.”
abc27 called Perry’s cellphone and was left with a message saying the voicemail box was full. It’s possible the FBI is listening to that voicemail box or scrubbing through text messages.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if in the coming weeks more things happen of this nature,” said Jones.
Perry has not been charged with any crimes regarding the January 6 riot and the Department of Justice has declined to comment.
The Senate report outlined a call Perry made to then-acting Deputy Attorney General Rich Donoghue in December 2020 to say the department wasn’t doing its job with respect to the elections. Perry encouraged Donoghue to elicit Clark’s help because he’s “the kind of guy who could really get in there and do something about this,” the report said.
Perry has said his “official communications” with Justice Department officials were consistent with the law.
The Justice Department’s inspector general conducted a search in June of Clark’s Virginia home.
The Justice Department found no evidence of widespread fraud in Pennsylvania or any other state, and senior Justice officials dismissed Perry’s claims.
The seizure of Scott’s cellphone was first reported by Fox News Channel.
The Associated Press contributed to this report