It is unclear as of Wednesday morning what the FBI specifically sought on Perry’s phone.
Perry garnered considerable interest from the Jan. 6 committee over the course of its investigation and he was the first lawmaker the panel subpoenaed as it scrutinized Trump’s attempt to overturn the 2020 election results.
As a key ally to Trump when he was in the White House, Perry introduced the 45th president to Jeffrey Clark, a middling attorney at the Department of Justice. Extensive witness testimony and records amassed in the Jan. 6 committee’s probe as well as in the altogether separate Senate Judiciary Committee probe from last year have indicated Clark was directly involved in the scheme to appoint fake electors for Trump in battleground states.
This summer, the nation’s former acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen and his deputy, Richard Engel, recounted how Clark pushed for their ousters if they refused to go along with a plan to release a draft to battleground state legislatures making false claims of election fraud and proposing the appointment of Trump’s bunk electors.
Clark, Rosen testified under oath, threatened to replace him with Trump’s blessing if he would not go along with the plan to issue the memos.
The threat of mass resignations at the department led by Rosen ultimately staved off Clark’s ascension to become the nation’s top cop and what would have likely been Trump’s near-total capture of the Department of Justice.
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Like Perry, Clark has been in the sights of FBI agents of late: His home was searched in June. Another key figure in the push to overturn the 2020 election, John Eastman, saw his phone taken by federal agents in June as well. He’s recently sued the Department of Justice to get his phone back and has demanded that any information agents took off the device be deleted. Prosecutors at the Department of Justice refused, arguing in court this Monday that the department would not return the phone, nor would it delete anything that could cause “substantial detriment” to its criminal investigations.
As for Perry, he was first hit with a formal subpoena from the Jan. 6 probe this May, but he refused to comply. This was anticipated since months earlier when the committee asked him to cooperate voluntarily, he was adamantly against the idea, claiming the panel was “illegitimate and not duly constituted under the rules of the House of Representatives.”
The seizure of Perry’s device could be tied to the Justice Department’s own investigation of Jan. 6 and more specifically, its reported probe into Trump’s fake elector scheme.
Text messages and testimony aired out this summer by the Jan. 6 committee revealed how Perry often used Signal, an encrypted messaging app, to chat with Trump’s Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and had specifically requested on numerous occasions that Meadows move their discussions from plain text channels to encrypted ones.
In the days between the election and the insurrection, Perry urged Meadows to have the nation’s intelligence agencies research wild conspiracy theories about fraud in the 2020 election, including that China hacked U.S. voting machines.
Perry’s texts to Meadows also featured claims that Italy or Britain were involved in the machine rigging and that former CIA Director Gina Haspel was part of an effort to cover it up.
Meadows’ aide, Cassidy Hutchinson, testified under oath that Perry was often at meetings where the former president and his coterie of attorneys and inside allies discussed ways to advance the bogus elector bid. Hutchinson also disclosed that Perry sought a pardon for his role in trying to overturn the election.
Perry called Hutchinson’s testimony a “soulless lie,” but when he was pressed about why he wouldn’t go before the committee himself, he instead attacked the committee and said he would get “no due process” if he cooperated.
A representative for the Department of Justice did immediately not return a request for comment Wednesday.