A federal judge is ordering Republican Rep. Scott Perry of Pennsylvania to turn over more than 1,600 texts and emails to FBI agents investigating alleged efforts to keep President Donald Trump in office after his 2020 election loss.
The ruling, late Monday, came more than a year after Perry’s personal cellphone was seized by federal authorities.
The decision, by U.S. District Judge James Boasberg, is largely 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.
In the 12-page decision, Boasberg said that Perry can withhold 396 of the messages under the Constitution’s “speech or debate” clause that protects the work of members of Congress.
However, the other 1,659 records do not involve legislative acts and must be disclosed, Boasberg ruled. That includes alleged efforts to influence members of the executive branch, discussions about Vice President Mike Pence’s role in certifying the election, and information about alleged election fraud.
Perry’s lawyer, John Rowley, did not immediately respond to a query about whether he will appeal. In the past, Rowley has said that government officials have never described Perry to him as a target of their investigation.
Perry is chairman of the conservative Freedom Caucus. He 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.
In recent weeks, snippets and short summaries of Perry’s texts and emails were inadvertently unsealed — and then resealed — by the federal court.
Making Perry a figure of interest to federal prosecutors was his introduction of Trump to Jeffrey Clark, at the time the assistant attorney general of the Environment and Natural Resources Division and the acting head of the Civil Division.
Clark drafted a letter that he suggested sending to Georgia saying 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.
Clark is now described in the federal indictment of Trump as one of six unnamed and unindicted co-conspirators in an alleged effort to subvert the 2020 election.