Court Reveals Details In DOJ Probe Of Rep. Scott Perry

UNITED STATES - JULY 20: Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., leaves the Capitol Hill Club in Washington on Wednesday, July 20, 2022. (Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)
Start your day with TPM.
Sign up for the Morning Memo newsletter

Federal prosecutors obtained more than 130,000 email messages in a Jan. 6-related investigation that appears to be focusing on Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA), newly released court filings show. In particular, prosecutors were focused on Perry’s communications with three lawyers — two of them officials at the Justice Department — who took part in efforts to try to use DOJ to help reverse the outcome of the 2020 election, according to the filing.

Prosecutors searched email accounts belonging to Jeffrey Clark, the former assistant attorney general for natural resources who tried and failed to become acting attorney general in the last days of the Trump administration. Also searched were email accounts belonging to Ken Klukowski, a Clark deputy, and John Eastman, the right-wing attorney who helped lead Trump’s legal effort to reverse the 2020 election result.

Chief D.C. District Judge Beryl Howell for the District of Columbia ordered the filings released, shedding light on how the DOJ has sought to obtain communications in its investigation of the attempt to subvert the 2020 election. Howell ordered the records released at the request of the DOJ.

The court orders show that DOJ earlier this year executed search warrants on the trio’s email accounts. A DOJ filter team was set up to review potentially privileged information in the 130,000 records obtained by the search warrants. But, according to a telling footnote, the filter team focused its initial efforts on any emails to or from Perry’s email address.

“The filter team has prioritized and expedited review of any email exchanges involving [email protected], which is presumptively used by U.S. Congressman Scott Perry of Pennsylvania,” the judge wrote.

The filter team’s review of the Scott Perry email exchanges found 37 emails that were not privileged, and Howell ruled in June that they could be turned over to the investigative team.

The newly unsealed order also show Howell finding in September that 331 records belonging to Clark were not protected by attorney-client privilege and could be turned over to the investigative team.

Collectively the two orders provide new insights into the Jan. 6 investigations by the Justice Department. It’s been known that federal investigators have focused on Perry and Clark , but the filings provide a new level of detail into the probes.

The disputes captured in the newly released order are mostly over whether any privileges apply to the emails seized under warrant. As such, they don’t provide much new substantive information on the investigations.

The Clark records appear to largely concern a draft outline of an autobiography that the former DOJ attorney was working on.

Howell included choice quotes from the draft in her order, remarking that it appeared to consist of “autosaved, iterative versions” of an outline composed entirely on “the Notes app.”

The outline purportedly follows Clark from, as he described it, “a young deplorable in Philadelphia,” to the pinnacle of his career: winter 2020, when he showed Trump a letter that, if appointed AG, he would send to Georgia advising it that the DOJ had determined fraud rendered the election in the state inconclusive.

“Good letter,” Trump replied to Clark, per the autobiography cited in the order.

Clark, Howell suggested, tried unsuccessfully to shield his drafts as privileged, to keep them away from the prying eyes of federal investigators.

All drafts, she wrote, contained a line noting that “[n]one of this outline reveals privileged information.”

After the Senate released a report documenting Clark’s involvement in the DOJ hijack effort, Clark purportedly updated the outline to include a mention of some information which had been “disclosed in testimony from other officials they never should have given.”

Clark added a line to the most recent two drafts before investigators obtained them saying “However this is attorney work product.”

The opinion reveals a level of disdain from Howell towards Clark’s arguments that’s rare in the annals of federal judicial writing. At one point, Howell dismissed Clark’s argument for privilege as “throwing spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks.”

Howell offered a brief summary of some of the communications that were taken. One email, circulated between Clark, Perry, and unnamed others, purportedly included an excerpt from an essay by renowned Czech dissident Vaclav Havel, as well as an annotated Roger Stone interview.

Perry, a little-known member of the House, took a leading role in the effort to keep Trump in office contra the election results.

Per texts from Mark Meadows’ phone published by TPM, Perry sought to involve the country’s intelligence community in the effort, and also pushed for top government officials to investigate “ItalyGate,” the theory that an Italian defense contractor was responsible for Trump’s loss.

He also, Senate investigators found last year, introduced Clark to Trump. Records revealed in Howell’s order show that investigators obtained correspondence between Clark and Perry that began before the 2020 election.

From there, texts and other reporting shows, Perry lobbied for Clark to become acting attorney general in a last-ditch effort to keep Trump in office that would have seen federal law enforcement wade into the outcome of an election that had already been decided.

Read the filings here:

Latest Muckraker
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Associate Editor:
Investigations Desk:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front End Developer:
Senior Designer: