U.S. House Representative Scott Perry (R-10) acknowledged his effort to prevent DOJ investigators from access to materials on his phone earlier today in an interview.
POLITICO is reporting that the York County rep is arguing that his months-long stance as one based on the Constitution provision that prevents the Executive Branch from prying into the actions of members of Congress.
“The Constitution provides for the provision that keeps the Executive Branch from coercing the legislative branch,” Perry said. “Anything that erodes that should be concerning to any citizen.”
The outlet revealed last week that U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell had ruled against Perry’s actions to block DOJ access in December. An appeals court panel had put that ruling on hold last month with the embattled GOP representative saying “The judges on the circuit got it right.”
Perry pointed to the appeals court ruling when asked if he felt the House should be doing more to defend him and the prerogatives of the institution. The House last week moved to intervene in Perry’s case, though officials have limited insight into the secret proceedings and potential impacts on other members.
FBI agents seized Perry’s phone with a court-approved warrant in August but still lack a necessary second level of judicial permission to begin combing through the records. Perry has claimed his communications are barred from outside review because of constitutional protections afforded to members of Congress that were designed to let lawmakers better fulfill their official responsibilities.
Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy has supported Perry in his argument that the Department of Justice has no right to his communications because they are covered by the Speech and Debate clause of the Constitution.
The clause serves to secure the independence of the federal legislature by providing Members of Congress and their aides with immunity from criminal prosecutions or civil suits that stem from acts taken within the legislative sphere. As succinctly described by the U.S. Supreme Court, the Clause’s immunity from liability applies even though their conduct, if performed in other than legislative contexts, would in itself be unconstitutional or otherwise contrary to criminal or civil statutes. This general immunity principle forms the core of the protections afforded by the Clause.
Perry is a crucial figure in the ongoing investigation into former President Donald Trump’s attempts to overturn his loss to Joe Biden. House and Senate probes have described Perry as an important ally to Trump in the chaotic weeks between the 2020 election and Jan. 6, 2021, when a mob of pro-Trump rioters stormed the Capitol in a bid to disrupt the transfer of power.
The case is scheduled for sealed oral arguments on Feb. 23.