The FBI’s seizure of Rep. Scott Perry’s (R-PA) phone on Tuesday was reportedly in connection with a federal investigation into attempts by several allies of former President Trump to subvert the 2020 election results, two people familiar with the matter told the New York Times.
On Tuesday, Perry told Fox News that three FBI agents approached him with a warrant for his phone while he was traveling with his family. Perry said the agents handed him a warrant and requested that he turn over his phone. Perry claimed the FBI made “no attempt to contact my lawyer, who would have made arrangements for them to have my phone if that was their wish.”
Investigators reportedly returned Perry’s phone back to him on Wednesday, one of his lawyers, John Irving, told the Times.
Irving reportedly said prosecutors told Perry that he is a witness, not a subject of, their inquiry.
“The Justice Department informed us that Representative Perry is not a target of its investigation,” Irving said in a written statement to the Times. “Representative 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.”
The seizure of Perry’s phone followed the seizure of phones and other electronic devices from Trump cronies Jeffrey Clark and John Eastman, both of whom were key players Trump’s fruitless attempt to overturn the election results, in June. Clark, a former DOJ official, attempted to weaponize the department as a tool to disrupt the certification of Joe Biden’s electoral victory on behalf of Trump. Eastman, a conservative lawyer, was part of a pressure campaign for then-Vice President Mike Pence to toss out the results of the 2020 election.
The Times noted that it is unclear how, or if, the inquiry into Perry, Clark and Eastman is connected with the broader investigation. Prosecutors are investigating a scheme by Trump’s allies and his lawyers to submit a fake slate of electors who would falsely declare that Trump won in battleground states that he lost.
In recent months, the Jan. 6 Select Committee has laid out evidence showing the roles Clark, Eastman and Perry played in the unsuccessful effort to steal a second term for Trump.
Perry was a key player in pushing Trump to tap Clark as his acting attorney general amid pushback from other top DOJ officials. During a public hearing, the Jan. 6 Select Committee revealed text messages showing Perry repeatedly urging then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows to get in touch with Clark.
The committee subpoenaed Perry in May, but the GOP congressman has refused to comply. Clark and Eastman were also subpoenaed by the panel, and have repeatedly invoked their Fifth Amendment rights.