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GOP Rep. Scott Perry drops lawsuit for the return of phone data seized by the FBI

Lawyers for Perry, a Trump ally who chairs the conservative House Freedom Caucus, did not explain their motion to dismiss the lawsuit.
Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., arrives at the Capitol Hill Club in Washington on April 27.
Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., arrives at the Capitol Hill Club in Washington on April 27.Bill Clark / CQ Roll Call via AP file

Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., a close ally of former President Donald Trump, has dropped his lawsuit against the Justice Department requesting the return of all cellphone data the FBI seized earlier this year.

Perry's lawyers filed a motion Wednesday to dismiss the case but did not explain the move in the filing. NBC News has asked Perry’s office and his lawyers for comment.

Perry, the chair of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, had asked a judge to order investigators to return his phone data and bar them from obtaining or reviewing additional phone records held by his cell provider, AT&T, in an emergency motion filed in Washington, D.C., federal court in August.

The filing said Perry’s phone was seized by federal agents who approached him while he was on vacation with his family in New Jersey in August. The agents had a search warrant for the device, and Perry got his phone back the same day after agents created an image of its data. After the seizure, Perry’s attorney, John Irving, said in a statement that the Justice Department had informed him that Perry “is not a target of its investigation.”

The warrant indicated the phone data would be taken to a Justice Department forensic lab in Northern Virginia, but because the initial warrant authorized only the seizure of the phone, investigators would need a second warrant from a judge before they could go through the data.

Perry argued the government lacked authority to search the data because the phone contained sensitive information protected by marital and attorney-client privilege, as well the speech or debate clause of the Constitution, which grants lawmakers legal protections for legislative acts.

In a motion in August, Perry asked the judge to postpone a decision in the case because his attorney was in talks with government lawyers about limiting the information agents would review. “Granting this request will allow the parties to further discuss the possibility of resolving the Emergency Motion by agreement,” the motion read.

It was unclear why Perry’s phone was seized. He has come under scrutiny by the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol. The panel has said it has evidence “from multiple witnesses” about Perry’s involvement in an effort to install former Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark as the acting attorney general during the final months of the Trump administration. Clark had pushed Trump’s baseless claims that the 2020 presidential election was stolen and wanted the Justice Department to step in to challenge the results.

Perry’s phone was seized after agents executed a search warrant at Clark’s home in June and seized the phone of John Eastman, a Trump lawyer who espoused false claims of widespread election fraud in the election.