Scott Perry: Trump ally ordered to share records with US Capitol riot probe

Rep. Scott Perry

By Madeline Halpert

BBC News, New York

A judge has ordered a Republican congressman to share more than 1,600 messages to federal prosecutors who are investigating Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election results.

US District Judge James Boasberg ordered Scott Perry to release 1,656 out of 2,055 records.

The BBC has contacted the Pennsylvania lawmaker for comment.

Mr Perry, whose phone was seized in 2022, has avoided sharing the records with investigators multiple times.

He previously faced scrutiny from the House of Representatives select committee that investigated the US Capitol riot on 6 January 2021.

The panel accused the staunch Trump ally of using his position in Congress to bolster efforts aimed at overturning the 2020 presidential election results.

Authorities obtained a warrant to take Mr Perry’s phone as part of their investigation. They required a second warrant to access his phone, however.

Mr Perry, who is the outgoing chairman of the deeply conservative House of Representatives Freedom Caucus, was able to delay the warrant by claiming that the constitutional “speech or debate” clause shielded his data from prosecutors.

The clause is designed to protect US lawmakers’ speech during legislative sessions. Mr Perry had argued the protections should apply because his phone was used in his role as a lawmaker.

Judge Boasberg disagreed, ruling that the 1,656 mobile phone, email and other messages were not related to his job in Congress and therefore had to be released.

In the 12-page order, Judge Boasberg reviewed the messages and divided them into three categories: communications involving members of the executive branch, messages involving congressional members and those with individuals outside the government.

The judge found that some 396 messages – from each category – were protected under the “speech or debate” clause.

Mr Perry must release “communications about non-legislative efforts to work with or influence members of the Executive Branch”, the judge ruled.

Mr Trump was indicted on felony charges in August in Washington DC for election subversion, one of four criminal cases he is facing. He has pleaded not guilty to all of the charges.

Earlier this year, the US attorney general named Jack Smith as the special counsel in charge of the Capitol riot inquiry as well as a separate classified documents case in Florida.

The panel said he introduced Mr Trump to Jeffrey Clark, a little-known environmental attorney whom the then-president reportedly considered installing as attorney general because he was supportive of his election fraud claims.

Mr Perry also defied a subpoena to testify before the House select committee.

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