Blocked: Court stops Jack Smith's effort to access phone records of GOP Rep. Scott Perry

An appeals court limited the special counsel’s move to access Rep. Scott Perry’s phone following the 2020 election

By Sophia Tesfaye

Senior Politics Editor

Published September 5, 2023 4:35PM (EDT)

Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa. (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)
Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa. (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

Special counsel Jack Smith's team of investigators has been seeking access to more than 2,200 records of communication between Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., and the Trump White House and others, but a federal appeals court severely limited their mission with a Tuesday ruling

A three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed part of a lower court's decision that would have allowed Smith's prosecutors to access much of the content they sought from Perry's cell phone, seized by the FBI under a 2022 search warrant. Federal investigators were quickly blocked from accessing its contents after Perry filed a motion to keep his communications private citing privileges as a federal lawmaker. 

The 29-page decision remained under seal as of Tuesday afternoon, so there are no details available about the court's reasoning.

Perry filed a civil complaint against the DOJ, seeking to prevent the agency from searching his phone but dropped the lawsuit in October. Smith's team, meanwhile, can appeal Tuesday's decision to the Supreme Court. 

According to Perry's lawyer, John Rowley, Perry's phone includes messages about the joint session to certify Electoral College votes on Jan. 6, 2021, and a Democratic-backed election bill passed in March of that year. 


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