This week, Scott Perry said that the FBI had confiscated his cell phone, and he publicly connected this action to the search of Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate. There is no proof that the two are related, and more information indicates that they are two different investigations.
The Republican from Pennsylvania was dealt with in a manner rarely seen by the FBI, which is usually reluctant to take action against an active member of Congress. The seizure comes after months of mounting proof of Perry’s central role in Trump’s plot to overturn the 2020 election, at the same time that investigators are becoming more proactive in their pursuit of those who have worked within the Trump administration to use the Justice Department to obstruct the peaceful transfer of power. There is no indication that the FBI’s efforts to retrieve potentially improperly stored presidential records from Trump’s private estate are related to his current predicament.
In a statement released later on Wednesday, Perry’s attorney John Irving stated his client had been told by the Justice Department that Rep. Perry was “not a target of its inquiry.”
“Representative Perry has directed us to cooperate with the Justice Department to ensure that it gets the information it is entitled to,” Irving said. “But we must also protect information that it is not entitled to,” he added, citing communications protected by the Speech and Debate Clause of the United States Constitution and communications with counsel as examples.
The inspector general of the Justice Department is leading the investigation into election subversion; his office has thus far declined to comment. In June, FBI agents working on behalf of the inspector general confiscated attorney John Eastman’s phone because of his involvement in the investigation. The Perry campaign’s official spokesperson did not immediately reply to a request for comment. According to CNN, Perry’s phone was taken as part of an inquiry by the inspector general.
Perry’s involvement stood out among the scores of Republican politicians who have been mentioned in the Jan. 6 select committee’s probe as supporting or amplifying Trump’s attempt to cling to power, thus it’s highly likely that this was the reason behind the seizure of his cell phone. Listed below are the many pieces of evidence that congressional investigators have revealed so far about Perry’s role.
Jeffrey Clark’s Rise to Success
According to testimony presented to the Senate Judiciary Committee and a select committee investigating the matter on January 6, Perry advocated for Jeffrey Clark, a relatively unknown officer in the Justice Department at the time, to take over as director of the department after the 2020 election. Clark was prepping a formal DOJ letter requesting states to reconvene their legislatures and consider rejecting the certified election results, as Trump’s supporters perceived him as more sympathetic to probes of spurious claims of voter fraud.
According to their inquiries, Perry was instrumental in introducing Clark to Trump and his associates. At a meeting, Perry reportedly told lawmakers, “something to the effect of ‘I believe Jeff Clark is wonderful, and I think he’s the kind of man who could get in there and do something about this stuff,'” as reported by Acting Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue. Further, this followed the president’s mention of Mr. Clark on an earlier afternoon call that day.
The select committee’s release of visitor records revealed that Perry took Clark to the White House on December 22, 2020, and helped introduce him to Trump.
The select panel also released text messages in which Perry urged White House top of staff Mark Meadows to promote Clark.
While the clock continues to tick, I wanted to check in with you, Mark. There are now only 11 days till 1/6 and 25 days until the inauguration. We had to leave right now! In a message dated December 26, 2020, Perry suggested that Mark gets in touch with Jeff.
Several top officials in the White House and Justice Department threatened to resign en masse if Trump went through with firing the DOJ leadership and replacing them with Clark in the days leading up to January 6.
Messages in the clear with Meadows
Perry asked Meadows, “Did you call Jeff Clark?” in a text exchange on December 26, 2020. Perry claimed to have sent the message to Meadows over the encrypted messaging program Signal. There’s no word on whether either guy saved their Signal conversations, but the National Archives has admitted that Meadows might not have “fully” archived all of his phone and email logs.
Former top aide Cassidy Hutchinson testified before the select panel on January 6 that she overheard Meadows burning files in his office after meeting with Perry at the White House, however, the contents of those papers remain unknown.
Trump’s January 6th strategic planning
Perry also attended a White House meeting on Dec. 21, 2020, with members of the pro-Trump House Freedom Caucus, which Perry chairs, to plot ways to prevent or delay certification of Joe Biden’s election on Jan. 6. In particular, they highlighted the role that then-Vice President Mike Pence played in overseeing the tally of electoral votes.
According to Hutchinson, White House lawyers were there and “pushed back” on proposals proposed by Perry and other Trump friends for Pence to reject Biden’s electors on January 6 to force state legislatures to pick their pro-Trump electors. Hutchinson stated that White House officials did not consider the idea to be “legally solid.”
Plans to bring Trump to the Capitol on January 6 Hutchinson’s testimony also showed that Meadows and Perry had discussed bringing Trump to the Capitol on January 6.
According to Hutchinson’s testimony before Congress, “I remember hearing a few different concepts talked with — between Mark [Meadows] and Scott Perry, Mark and Rudy Giuliani.” I have no idea which of our discussions made it to the president. The reason he went to the Capitol that day is a mystery to me.
Hutchinson echoed Perry’s backing for a proposal to call on Trump supporters to march on the Capitol, telling the select committee as much.
To be excused According to Hutchinson, Perry was among a small group of Republican congressmen who brought up the topic of pardons to Trump following the January 6 uprising. At the end of the day, none of them were granted clemency.
Hutchinson told lawmakers that he had spoken with her directly and that “Mr. Perry begged for a pardon, too.”
Despite Perry’s denials, Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Alabama) has admitted asking for a pardon for himself and other congressmen and has provided an email from him to the White House outlining his concerns about electoral votes and asking for pardon.
For the time being, the President feels it is preferable to let it play out, as Brooks said to the press in June.