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Rep. Scott Perry must turn over 1600 emails and texts in investigation

Republican Rep. Scott Perry ordered to turn over 1,600 texts and emails to FBI agents investigating efforts to keep Trump in office.

Republican Representative Scott Perry of Pennsylvania has been instructed to hand over more than 1,600 texts and emails to FBI agents who are investigating the efforts to keep President Donald Trump in office after his defeat in the 2020 election. This ruling comes over a year after Perry claimed that the FBI confiscated his personal cellphone one day after FBI agents raided former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago home.

Perry expressed outrage at the FBI's actions, stating that he was not surprised by the seizure of his phone by the FBI under the direction of Merrick Garland's Department of Justice. U.S. District Judge James Boasberg ruled that Perry, a top Trump ally, can withhold 396 of the messages under the constitution's speech and debate clause that protects the work of members of Congress. The 1,659 records being sought by prosecutors include efforts to influence members of the executive branch, discussions about Vice President Mike Pence's role in certifying the election, and providing information about alleged election fraud.

The decision is in line with an earlier finding by a federal judge that Perry appealed to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C. Perry's office has not yet provided a reaction to the ruling, and it remains to be seen if he will appeal in this case. Perry, who is the outgoing chairman of the Freedom Caucus, a hardline faction of conservatives, will be succeeded by Rep. Bob Good, R-Va., who was elected as the next chairman earlier this month.

Perry has not been charged with a crime and is the only sitting member of Congress whose cellphone was seized by the FBI in the 2020 election investigation. Perry's efforts to protect the contents of his cell phone have proceeded largely in secret, except in recent weeks when snippets and short summaries of his texts and emails were inadvertently unsealed and then resealed by the federal court. These messages revealed more about where Perry may fit in the web of Trump loyalists who were central to his bid to remain in power.

Perry's efforts to elevate Jeffrey Clark to Trump's acting attorney general in late 2020 made him a figure of interest to federal prosecutors. The messages suggest that Perry was a key ally for Clark, who positioned himself as someone who would reverse the Department of Justice's stance that it had found no evidence of widespread voting fraud. Clark had drafted a letter that he suggested sending to Georgia, stating that the Department of Justice had 'identified significant concerns that may have impacted the outcome of the election in multiple states, including the state of Georgia,' according to the August indictment in that state accusing Trump, Clark, and 17 others of trying illegally to keep him in power.

The confiscation of Perry's phone came just one day after FBI agents descended on Trump's Mar-a-Lago home in what Perry called in his statement an 'unnecessary and aggressive action.' At the time, Clark was the assistant attorney general of the Environment and Natural Resources Division and served as the acting head of the Civil Division.

The showdown over Clark brought the Justice Department to the brink of crisis, prosecutors have said, and Trump ultimately backed down after he was told that it would result in mass resignations at the Justice Department and his own White House counsel's office. Clark is now described in the federal indictment of Trump as one of six unnamed and unindicted co-conspirators in an effort to illegally subvert the 2020 election.

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