The US House of Representatives has moved to intervene in an ongoing legal battle between the Justice Department and Rep. Scott Perry over whether the department should be allowed to access the contents of the Pennsylvania Republican’s phone.
One person familiar with the situation said the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group – made up of House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries and others in leadership – voted unanimously to intervene. It was an effort to unseal the docket in Perry’s case, the person said, a move that’s viewed to be in the chamber’s best interest in order to preserve the Constitution’s Speech or Debate Clause, which protects the work of members of Congress.
“It was a unanimous vote, in terms of the bipartisan legal group, related to the institution of the House of Representatives,” Jeffries told reporters Monday.
CNN has previously reported on the sealed court battle between Perry’s attorneys and the Justice Department after seizing the congressman’s phone last year.
DOJ has tried to gain access to Perry’s text messages as part of a criminal investigation into 2020 election interference.
Perry texted then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows about advice from a “cyber forensic team” he was in touch with after the 2020 election.
Perry believed election security was compromised, contributing to Donald Trump’s loss of the presidency, and wanted to preserve voting machines after the election. That led the Pennsylvania lawmaker to be in touch with powerful Trump backers, including Meadows, Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark and others who pushed false claims of election fraud.
Perry previously said that the Justice Department told his attorneys he was not a target of the investigation.
He sued the Justice Department days after the search, then quickly asked the court to put the public-facing lawsuit on hold. The Justice Department approached Perry’s phone seizure and other phone seizures from Trump allies in two parts, according to sources familiar with the investigation and public filings. DOJ would image the phone through an initial warrant and then seek a second warrant through confidential court proceedings to access the data.
After Perry’s lawsuit, the dispute went under seal, with Perry’s lawyers and Justice Department investigators appearing in mid-October before Chief Judge Beryl Howell during a hearing that was closed to the public, CNN reported at the time.
Howell oversees federal grand jury proceedings in Washington, DC, and several of the prosecutors involved in those proceedings are now working with special counsel Jack Smith.
CNN’s Katelyn Polantz contributed to this report.