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Rep. Perry's Phone Seizure Suggests Broader FBI Probe of 2020 Election

The FBI.’s seizure of Rep. Scott Perry’s phone this week was at least the third major action in recent months taken in connection with an escalating federal investigation into efforts by several close allies of former President Trump to overturn the 2020 election. The inquiry, begun last year by the Justice Department’s inspector general’s office, has already ensnared Jeffrey Clark, a former department official whom Trump wanted to install atop DOJ to help him press his baseless claims of election fraud, and John Eastman, an outside lawyer who advised Trump on proposals to overturn the vote result, the New York Times reports. In June, federal agents acting on search warrants from the inspector general’s office seized phones and other electronic devices from Clark and Eastman. That same tactic was used on Tuesday to seize the phone of Perry, a Pennsylvania Republican.

While the inspector general’s office had jurisdiction when Clark was a DOJ employee, the investigation is increasingly being run by prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney’s office in D.C. One of those prosecutors, Thomas Windom, is in charge of a broad investigation of a plan by Trump and his allies to create fake slates of electors to the Electoral College in states that were actually won by Joseph Biden. Prosecutors are seeking to determine whether a group of Trump’s lawyers and several of his allies in state legislatures and state Republican parties broke the law by creating pro-Trump slates of electors in states he did not win and later by using them to disrupt a joint session of Congress on Jan. 6, 2021, where the election results were certified. The Senate Judiciary Committee and the House Jan. 6 panel have documented how, in December 2020, Clark helped to draft a letter to Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia falsely claiming that the Justice Department had evidence that the vote results in the state might have been marred by fraud. The letter, which was never sent, advised Kemp to call a special session of his state’s General Assembly to create “a separate slate of electors supporting Donald J. Trump.”

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