News outlets to federal judge: Unseal the warrant for Scott Perry's phone

Aimee Ambrose
York Dispatch

A federal judge should lift the seal on records outlining why the FBI seized U.S. Rep. Scott Perry’s mobile phone last month, a new court filing argues.

The motion, filed Thursday by three newspapers including The York Dispatch, seeks to uncover arguments made as part of federal investigators' efforts to obtain a warrant for data from the sitting congressman's phone. It joins an emergency suit the York County Republican filed last month to get his phone back from investigators.

FBI agents served a warrant to seize Perry’s phone data Aug. 9 as he vacationed with his family in New Jersey. The move came a day after agents searched former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida for classified documents taken from the White House when Trump left office in 2021.

Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., speaks during a news conference with members of the House Freedom Caucus outside the U.S. Capitol on Feb. 28, 2022, in Washington, D.C. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images/TNS)

Perry alleged in his suit that the seizure, which came amid a Justice Department investigation into efforts to overturn the 2020 election, was part of a politically motivated attempt to affect his chances at reelection in November.

A spokesperson for Perry did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday.

Attorneys for the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press filed the new motion on behalf of The York Dispatch, the York Daily Record and The Patriot-News. The filing calls for a federal court to unseal judicial records in the case, including the actual warrant, warrant application, associated affidavits and other related documents.

More:Ambulance shot in York County, police say: Can you ID the suspect's car?

More:More questions emerge around York City's $4M plan for Dentsply site

More:York City mulls removal of decades-old cap on police staffing

Attorneys for the news outlets argued that searching a congressional representative’s property raises concerns about the separation of powers as well as potential infringements of the Fourth Amendment’s constitutional protections against unreasonable searches and seizures.

"When investigators take a step as dramatic as seizing property from a member of Congress, the public deserves to understand the basis for it,” Grayson Clary, an attorney with the Reporters Committee, said in an email. “That's why we've asked the court to unseal the records that would provide that transparency.”

>> Please consider subscribing to support local journalism. 

The new motion argues that the Justice Department has sometimes included “special procedures” in warrant applications for searches involving congresspersons to limit infringing on legislative activities.

Perry’s lawsuit reportedly asked a federal court to block government agents from searching his phone.

Two weeks after the seizure, he told The York Dispatch he hadn’t heard from the FBI since the confrontation.

Staff reporter Matt Enright contributed to this report.

— Reach Aimee Ambrose at aambrose@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @aimee_TYD.