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Rep. Scott Perry Suddenly Drops His Lawsuit Against the Justice Department Seeking Return of Cell Phone Data Seized by FBI

Rep. Scott Perry

Scott Perry speaks during a news conference with members of the House Freedom Caucus outside the U.S. Capitol on Feb. 28, 2022 in Washington.

Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.) dropped a federal lawsuit that sought the return of cell phone data seized by the FBI pursuant to a court authorized warrant.

Months before the FBI seized and created forensic images of his phone, Perry became the first congressman name-dropped by the Jan. 6th Committee as having sought former President Donald Trump’s pardon. The committee’s vice chair, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), invoked Perry at the debut public hearing. Chair Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) previously subpoenaed Perry in connection with the unsuccessful plan to subvert the Justice Department by installing lawyer Jeff Clark as attorney general. Clark planned to embrace Trump’s election conspiracy theories through a plan that the former president’s White House lawyer called illegal.

“I said … fucking a-hole … congratulations: You’ve just admitted your first step or act you’d take as attorney general would be committing a felony,” ex-White House lawyer Eric Herschmann recounted telling Clark.

Herschmann added that Clark’s plan would have violated grand jury secrecy.

Perry denied asking Trump for a pardon over this or any other scheme.

Some two months after Cheney claimed he did, Perry sued the U.S. government in federal court, seeking the return of data that the FBI seized on Aug. 9, 2022. Perry said that he was on vacation with his family in New Jersey on that day, and a federal magistrate had authorized the warrant supporting the seizure a week earlier. It also allowed for the seizure of records and information associated with Perry’s cell phone that is in the “possession, custody, or control of AT&T.”

“In subsequent discussions with prosecutors from the United States Department of Justice, the undersigned counsel explained that the data from Rep. Perry’s phone includes information that is protected by the Speech and Debate Clause of the United States Constitution, the Attorney Client privilege, marital privilege, and which is otherwise personal and confidential,” Perry’s attorneys John S. Irving and John Rowley wrote in an emergency motion on Aug. 18, 2022.

The pair also represents Trump ally Peter Navarro.

“Counsel for Rep. Perry requested that the government not seek a second search warrant that would allow them to access the data from his phone and offered to review the information and cooperatively provide the government with whatever information they were seeking, so long as it did not infringe on the Speech and Debate Clause, the Attorney-Client Privilege, and other applicable privileges and protections,” the motion continues.

Predicting victory, Perry’s attorneys wrote: “It is improbable that the government can establish probable cause of a nexus between any, let alone every, file on Rep . Perry’s phone and whatever alleged criminal behavior it is investigating.”

Then, within days, Perry seemed to suddenly reverse course, filing a request to hold that motion in abeyance to resolve those issues in discussions with the government.

On Wednesday, and without explanation or fanfare, Perry’s attorneys filed a motion to dismiss their case without prejudice. That means they would be able to refile at a later date.

Perry’s press representative did not immediately respond to Law&Crime’s email requesting comment.

Read Perry’s motion to dismiss without prejudice here.

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Law&Crime's managing editor Adam Klasfeld has spent more than a decade on the legal beat. Previously a reporter for Courthouse News, he has appeared as a guest on NewsNation, NBC, MSNBC, CBS's "Inside Edition," BBC, NPR, PBS, Sky News, and other networks. His reporting on the trial of Ghislaine Maxwell was featured on the Starz and Channel 4 documentary "Who Is Ghislaine Maxwell?" He is the host of Law&Crime podcast "Objections: with Adam Klasfeld."