One day after the Federal Bureau of Investigation searched former President Donald Trump’s Palm Beach home on Monday, agents seized the cellphone belonging to U.S. Representative Scott Perry (R-PA-10), eliciting outrage on his side of the political aisle.
The FBI has refused to comment on the investigation, leaving it presently uncertain what messages or other data the bureau seeks to obtain from the lawmaker’s device. Perry, who represents Harrisburg, York, and surrounding communities, has been at odds with Congress’s Democratic majority and Joe Biden’s White House over investigations related to the January 6, 2021 riot and Capitol Building breach. The U.S. House select committee probing the event issued a subpoena to the congressman with which he declined to comply.
The panel’s command of Perry to testify suggested the legislator “was directly involved with efforts to corrupt the Department of Justice and install Jeffrey Clark as acting Attorney General.” Clark took a hard line in favor of Trump’s position that Biden’s election was illegitimate.
Perry said the phone FBI agents nabbed contains information on his legislative and campaign work as well as personal discussions with his friends and relatives, matters which he said the government has no legitimate cause to examine. He furthermore characterized the bureau’s action as reminiscent of a “banana republic” wherein political figures face unfair treatment by their more powerful adversaries.
“This morning, while traveling with my family, 3 FBI agents visited me and seized my cell phone,” Perry said in his initial statement on the matter. “They made no attempt to contact my lawyer, who would have made arrangements for them to have my phone if that was their wish. I’m outraged — though not surprised — that the FBI under the direction of [Attorney General] Merrick Garland’s [Department of Justice], would seize the phone of a sitting Member of Congress.”
Several of Perry’s congressional colleagues seconded his outrage.
“The Biden regime is out of control,” Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY-04) posted on Twitter on Wednesday.
Congressman Jim Jordan (R-OH-04), the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, has repeatedly blasted Garland for ordering the search of the ex-president’s residence and called on the attorney general to explain why he made that move. He also tweeted in defense of Perry and praised his Pennsylvania colleague’s military record, which included service in the Iraq War in the 2000s.
“They were out to get Trump before he was president,” Jordan wrote. “They were out to get him when he was president. They’re out to get him after he left the White House. And now they’re out to get @RepScottPerry, a general who honorably served our country for years.”
Perry’s fellow Keystone Stater, Rep. Guy Reschenthaler (R-PA-14) likewise praised his colleague’s Army service and opined that “the FBI didn’t need to seize his cellphone, especially in front of his family” and that the agency “did it for sport.”
Economist John Lott of the Crime Prevention Research Center weighed in with his own disapproval, lamenting that Trump and Perry appear to be receiving more aggressive treatment than former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who, like Trump, faced reported accusations of improperly taking classified federal files.
“When Hillary Clinton stored lots of secret & even top secret files on her personal private server how did the FBI treat it?” Lott wrote. “She illegally stored thousands of files. Were there raids on her home? BTW, what is the FBI doing confiscating the private cell of Rep Scott Perry[?]”
Democrats didn’t accord Perry the same sympathy. Pennsylvania’s State House Democratic Caucus stated “people deserve to know the truth about the role this elected PA Republican played in trying to overturn the 2020 election and end American Democracy.” One of their members, State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta (D-Philadelphia) was even more pointed, calling Perry “an embarrassment to Pennsylvania [who] should resign.”
– – –