Trump ally says FBI seized his phone

Washington, Aug 10 (IANS): US Representative Scott Perry said that FBI agents had seized his phone, making the Pennsylvania Republican the latest ally of former President Donald Trump to find himself drawn into a widening Department of Justice (DOJ) probe.

In a statement, Perry said he was travelling with his family Tuesday morning when he was approached by three FBI agents with a warrant for the contents of his phone, reports dpa news agency.

He called their actions "outrageous" and complained that they had not first contacted his lawyer, saying he would have willingly cooperated if given the chance.

"I'm outraged, though not surprised, that the FBI under the direction of Merrick Garland's DOJ, would seize the phone of a sitting Member of Congress," Perry said in a statement.

"My phone contains info about my legislative and political activities, and personal/private discussions with my wife, family, constituents, and friends. None of this is the government's business."

The basis for the search, which was first reported by Fox News, was not immediately clear.

Perry was one of the leading figures in Pennsylvania pushing to undermine the state's election results, and on January 6, 2021, led the charge on the House floor to throw out the state's electoral votes, and the will of its voters.

In between, he was in frequent contact with top Trump administration officials at the DOJ, urging them to investigate debunked conspiracy theories about widespread election fraud, evidence presented by the congressional committee investigating the attack on the Capitol has shown.

He has been asked to testify before the committee, but has thus far refused to do so, saying the body has no legal authority.

The search warrant served on Perry came a day after the FBI raided Mar-a-Lago, Trump's Florida estate.

Perry echoed Trump's complaints about that brush with the bureau, calling both FBI actions "banana republic tactics".

In recent weeks, the DOJ has widened its investigation into the events surrounding Trump's efforts to maintain power and overturn the 2020 election, a series of events in which Perry has been shown to have played a central role.

Agents have interviewed several of the pro-Trump electors from Pennsylvania and other states in recent weeks.

In June, agents searched the homes of Jeffrey Clark, a Philadelphia-born DOJ lawyer whom Trump had sought to install as attorney general to advance his baseless election fraud claims.

They have also seized the phone of John Eastman, the attorney behind a Trump plan to send alternate slates of electors from battleground states to the January 6, 2021, certification of the vote in Congress.



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