Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.), an ally of former President Donald Trump and chair of the ultraconservative Freedom Caucus, said Tuesday that three FBI agents "seized my cellphone" earlier in the day after having made "made no attempt to contact my lawyer, who would have made arrangements for them to have my phone if that was their wish." Perry did not disclose what the FBI is searching for on his phone — he would have received a copy of the search warrant — but he is linked to several investigations focused on efforts to keep Trump in office after he lost his re-election bid.
Perry is one of at least 11 congressional Republicans involved in discussions with Trump's White House about overturning the election, according to former Justice Department officials, the House Jan. 6 committee, and an October 2021 Senate Judiciary report. He also introduced Trump to Jeffrey Clark, a former assistant U.S. attorney general, and reportedly pushed for Trump to name Clark acting attorney general so the Justice Department would go along with various rejected schemes to overturn President Biden's electoral victory.
The Justice Department is investigating efforts by Trump allies to overturn the 2020 election, but the Justice Department inspector general is also conducting an investigation of the department's role in the events leading up to Jan. 6, an inquiry that led to an FBI search of Clark's home in June and the contemporaneous seizure of conservative lawyer John Eastman's cellphone. Eastman promoted novel legal theories to justify replacing President Biden's electors with pro-Trump "alternates."
The Justice Department's internet in Perry "may also intersect with the probe of Trump's handling of White House records," Politico reports, noting that Perry and Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows exchanged encrypted messaging apps about the 2020 election and, according to Jan. 6 committee testimony, Meadows burned certain papers after a White House meeting with Perry.
"I'm outraged — though not surprised — that the FBI under the direction of Merrick Garland's DOJ, would seize the phone of a sitting Member of Congress," Perry said, calling the confiscation of his phone "banana republic tactics.