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Trump Ally Perry Pauses Suit Amid Talks With US Over Seized Cellphone

Trump Ally Perry Pauses Suit Amid Talks With US Over Seized Cellphone
(Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

Wednesday, 24 August 2022 01:35 PM EDT

Republican U.S. Rep. Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, an ally of former President Donald Trump, on Wednesday asked a federal court to put on hold his lawsuit against the Justice Department seeking to block investigators from searching the contents of his cellphone, which was seized this month.

Perry, who has helped spread Trump's claims that the 2020 election was stolen from him through widespread voting fraud, was vacationing with his family in New Jersey on Aug. 9 when three FBI agents approached him with a search warrant to seize his phone.

He sued the Justice Department last week. But in a filing on Wednesday Perry's lawyers disclosed that the department had since reached out to negotiate over how the phone search would be conducted and asked to pause the lawsuit.

The Justice Department has not explained its reason for seizing the device, but it appears to have been linked to its investigation into the Jan. 6, 2021, U.S. Capitol attack.

Perry's actions are being investigated separately by the House of Representatives select committee looking into the Jan. 6 events.

The congressman was in contact with Trump White House officials in the weeks before the Capitol attack in which protesters sought to prevent Congress from certifying the election results. During a select committee hearing in June, lawmakers heard witness testimony that Perry sought a pardon from Trump before he left office. Perry has denied making such a request.

In his lawsuit, publicly disclosed late Tuesday after being filed in federal court in Washington on Aug. 18, Perry's attorneys said he asked the Justice Department not to seek a second warrant to search the cellphone's contents.

The cellphone, the lawyers said, contains information protected under what is called the U.S. Constitution's speech and debate clause, a provision that can shield legislative activities from legal liability, as well as material covered by protections for attorney-client interactions and spousal communications.

In support of their proposal, they cited a case in which the federal appeals court in Washington laid out a method for how search warrants can be carried out against members of Congress. That approach involves letting a lawmaker review the materials to weed out any that are protected, and show those records to the court for a final determination.

In their emergency motion, Perry's lawyers said prosecutors threatened to seek a second warrant to search the phone unless both parties could reach an agreement to review the contents simultaneously to weed out protected material.

An attorney for Perry previously told Reuters that the congressman was not a target of its probe.

© 2024 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.


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Republican U.S. Rep. Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, an ally of former President Donald Trump, on Wednesday asked a federal court to put on hold his lawsuit against the Justice Department seeking to block investigators from searching the contents of his cellphone, which was seized this...
scott perry, lawsuit, cellphone, seizure
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2022-35-24
Wednesday, 24 August 2022 01:35 PM
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