Federal investigators seized the cellphone of the Republican congressman Scott Perry on Tuesday, his office said, suggesting the justice department is examining the communications of a close ally of Donald Trump and person of interest to the House January 6 select committee.
The move by the FBI to take Perry’s phone came a day after federal agents executed a search warrant on Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence and seized boxes of documents, though it was not clear whether the two events were connected.
Perry, the prominent Republican from Pennsylvania who is also the chair of the ultra-conservative House Freedom Caucus and has been subpoenaed by the select committee, confirmed that his phone was taken by federal investigators in a statement earlier reported by Fox News.
“This morning, while traveling with my family, 3 FBI agents visited me and seized my cell phone. 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 in the statement.
“My phone contains info about my legislative and political activities, and personal/private discussions with my wife, family, constituents, and friends. None of this is the government’s business.”
The congressman – one of Trump’s most vociferous defenders on Capitol Hill – compared the seizure of his phone to the FBI’s search of Trump’s Palm Beach resort, claiming, without evidence, that the moves were politically motivated overreach by the Biden administration.
“As with President Trump last night, DoJ chose this unnecessary and aggressive action instead of simply contacting my attorneys. These kinds of banana republic tactics should concern every citizen,” Perry said of the court-approved warrant used by the FBI.
The circumstances surrounding the seizure of Perry’s phone could not immediately be established, and a spokesman for Perry did not respond to questions about the nature of the criminal investigation under which the FBI took his device.
But Perry has come under increased scrutiny in recent months over Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election results, with respect to his roles in objecting to the certification of Joe Biden’s election win and in seeking to remove top justice department officials.
The congressman has refused to testify to the select committee to answer questions about those issues, despite the subpoena. His lawyer, John Rowley – also representing Trump himself – has said Perry did “nothing improper” with respect to the Capitol attack.
Still, the seizure of his phone appears to suggest that Perry’s communications have become ensnared in a criminal investigation. According to the select committee, Perry is also among several House Republicans who sought a pre-emptive pardon from Trump after the January 6 insurrection.