GOP Congressman Perry Asks Judge for Return of FBI-Seized Phone Data

(Bloomberg) -- Republican Representative Scott Perry asked to pause his request that a federal judge order the Justice Department to return his mobile phone data after he entered into further negotiations with the government over access to the information.

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Perry’s attorneys said in a filing Wednesday that they were in talks with the government about a process to prevent the disclosure of certain data that is privileged. The request came shortly after Perry’s motion for an order to return his “property.”

The Pennsylvania lawmaker earlier argued that he must determine which data is protected from disclosure rather than giving that power to members of the executive branch to “unlawfully” review the “protected materials,” according to a court filing in Washington.

Perry was seeking a restraining order that would prevent the government from searching data taken from his phone until the court has ruled his request for its return.

On Aug. 9, special agents from the FBI seized Perry’s phone after a Pennsylvania judge issued a warrant. The seizure came after the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riot held a hearing that showed Perry’s involvement in pushing the Trump administration to install Jeffrey Clark or someone else to lead DOJ who would pursue election fraud claims.

Perry’s attorney asked to review the data for information protected by certain privileges such as attorney client and those afforded to lawmakers. Perry alleged that prosecutors considered a different approach where both parties could review the data and sort out what would be protected.

Perry also claimed prosecutors said they would seek a second search warrant that would authorize them to review cell phone data if he refused to waive protections under the US Constitution’s Speech and Debate Clause, which prohibits questioning of members of Congress about legislative work. Perry declined to waive the protection.

A second search warrant hasn’t been issued yet, and Perry is unaware of any steps taken by the government to obtain his telephone records from AT&T, according to the filing.

Bill Miller, a spokesman for the US attorney’s office for the District of Columbia, declined to comment.

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