Tue. Jun 25th, 2024

Judge orders Rep. Scott Perry to turn over nearly 1,700 cellphone records in Jan. 6 probe

By Jennifer Dec 20, 2023
Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., outside the Capitol on May 30.Bill ClarkRep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., outside the Capitol on May 30.Bill Clark / CQ-Roll Call via AP file

BY NBC NEWS

Washington, DCΒ  A federal judge decided on Tuesday that Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., must provide 1,659 documents to government investigators. The judge found that the communication records were not shielded by the Constitution’s speech or debate clause.

Breaking down Trump's disqualification from Colorado ballot
Breaking down Trump’s disqualification from Colorado ballot / CBS NEWS

The court order is the most recent development in an investigation about January 6 that has been dragged through the courts for some months, involving the Trump ally.

Prior to Jack Smith’s appointment as special counsel, the FBI confiscated Scott Perry’s phone in 2022 as part of a federal probe investigating attempts to tamper with the 2020 election’s certification. In order to access Perry’s data, investigators had to wait for a second warrant since Perry claimed speech or debate protection for 2,219 records.

Scott Perry had requested the return of the cellphone data, stating that he was “outraged” by the action.

Prior to this, a federal judge declared that most of the records were not protected and mandated that Perry make them available. The Republican from Pennsylvania appealed that ruling.

Rep. Scott Perry may shield phone records from Jan. 6 investigators, federal court rules
Rep. Scott Perry may shield phone records from Jan. 6 investigators, federal court rules | Courthouse News Service

The judge’s order was mostly maintained by the appeals court, but it decided that speech or debate protection could apply in some situations that the lower court had dismissed, necessitating a reexamination of the district court’s records.

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Chief Judge James Boasberg ruled on Tuesday, stating that the speech or debate clause protects 396 of Scott Perry’s documents. The judge ordered the turn-over of the remaining records, which included messages regarding purported election fraud and the vice president’s participation in validating the electoral vote count.

In the 12-page petition, Boasberg stated, “Having now analyzed each of the 2,055 documents still at issue, the Court will order Scott Perry to disclose 1,659 of them, but not the 396 others.”

Court strictly limits Jan. 6 investigators' access to Rep. Perry's phone
Court strictly limits Jan. 6 investigators’ access to Rep. Perry’s phone – The Washington Post

According to the court document, Scott Perry used his smartphone to communicate with people that the authorities thought would be pertinent to their investigation into the Capitol incident on January 6.

The congressman had previously claimed that the speech or debate provision of the Constitution shielded him from government surveillance of his communications; however, the most recent court filing largely refuted this claim. According to the filing on Tuesday, the clause is meant to safeguard a member’s speech during legislative sessions and has also been interpreted to protect speech outside of them.

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Regarding his purported conduct following the 2020 presidential election,Scott Perry has drawn criticism. Some of his text exchanges, in which he questioned former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows about a conspiracy theory pertaining to the 2020 election, were previously obtained by the House committee on January 6.

A request for comment regarding the judge’s order from Tuesday night was not immediately answered by a Scott Perry representative.

By Jennifer

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