WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. Rep. Scott Perry said his cellphone was seized Tuesday morning by FBI agents carrying a search warrant.
The circumstances surrounding the seizure were not immediately known. Perry, though, has been a figure in the congressional investigation into President Donald Trump's actions leading up to the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol insurrection.
Former senior Justice Department officials have testified that Perry, a Pennsylvania Republican, had "an important role" in Trump's effort to try to install Jeffrey Clark — a top Justice official who was pushing Trump's baseless claims of election fraud — as the acting attorney general.
In a statement Tuesday, Perry said three agents visited him while he was traveling Tuesday with his family and "seized my cell phone." He called the action "banana republic tactics."
"They made no attempt to contact my lawyer, who would have made arrangements for them to have my phone if that was their wish," Perry said. "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."
The lawmaker, representing Pennsylvania's 10th District, was cited more than 50 times in a Senate Judiciary report released in October 2021 outlining how Trump's effort to overturn his election defeat to Joe Biden brought the Justice Department to the brink of chaos and prompted top officials there and at the White House to threaten to resign.
Perry, who has continuously disputed the validity of Biden's victory in Pennsylvania, has said he obliged Trump's request for an introduction to Clark, then an assistant attorney general whom Perry knew from unrelated legislative matters. The three men went on to discuss their shared concerns about the election, Perry has said.
The Justice Department found no evidence of widespread fraud in Pennsylvania or any other state, and senior Justice officials dismissed Perry's claims.
The Senate report outlined a call Perry made to then-acting Deputy Attorney General Rich Donoghue in December 2020 to say the department wasn't doing its job with respect to the elections. Perry encouraged Donoghue to elicit Clark's help because he's "the kind of guy who could really get in there and do something about this," the report said.
Perry has said his "official communications" with Justice Department officials were consistent with the law.
The Justice Department's inspector general conducted a search in June of Clark's Virginia home.
Perry slammed the Justice Department's decision to serve him with a warrant as an "unnecessary and aggressive action."
"My phone contains info about my legislative and political activities, and personal/private discussions with my wife, family, constituents, and friends," Perry said. None of this is the government's business."
The seizure of Scott's cellphone was first reported by Fox News Channel.