2023-01-30 22:03:37

Secret hold restricts DOJ's bid to access phone of Trump ally Rep. Scott Perry

By Kyle Cheney

A federal appeals court panel has put a secret hold on the Justice Departments effort to access the phone of Rep. Scott Perry as part of a broader probe of efforts by Donald Trump and his allies to subvert the 2020 election.

In a sealed order issued earlier this month, the three-judge panel temporarily blocked a lower-court ruling that granted prosecutors access to Perrys communications. The Dec. 28 ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Beryl Howell was the product of a secret, monthslong legal battle by prosecutors who have been fighting the Pennsylvania Republicans attorneys on the matter since August.

The existence of the legal fight a setback for DOJ reported here for the first time is itself intended to be shielded from public scrutiny, part of the strict secrecy that governs ongoing grand jury matters. The long-running clash was described to POLITICO by two people familiar with the proceedings, who spoke candidly on the condition of anonymity.

The fight has intensified in recent weeks and drawn the House, newly led by Speaker Kevin McCarthy, into the fray. On Friday, the chamber moved to intervene in the back-and-forth over letting DOJ access the phone of Perry, the House Freedom Caucus chair, reflecting the cases potential to result in precedent-setting rulings about the extent to which lawmakers can be shielded from scrutiny in criminal investigations.

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