The FBI is looking very interested in the Republican effort to set up a slate of fake electors in Pennsylvania. Earlier in the week, the FBI seized a phone from Rep. Scott Perry, whose name has come up repeatedly during the Jan. 6 committee hearings. Perry’s lawyer subsequently released a statement saying the congressman is a witness, not a target of the investigation. But the FBI wasn’t done with Pennsylvania Republicans. Several state lawmakers also got visits from the agency this week, sources told PennLive.
Republicans in both the Pennsylvania state House and state Senate got visits and in some cases subpoenas, according to the sources. The subpoenas were for information relating to the fake elector scheme, in which Trump supporters tried to set up alternate slates of electors in states Trump had lost to give congressional Republicans another tool to use to object to the certification of President Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential election win.
PennLive’s multiple sources were anonymous, while official spokespeople for state Republican leaders deflected.
“I am unaware of any FBI presence in the Capitol or Leader Benninghoff’s office yesterday. To the extent House members or staff may have been contacted by the FBI, we would not comment on a potential or ongoing investigation,” said a spokesman for House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff. Similarly, a spokesman for Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman said, “Federal subpoenas typically request confidentiality from the witnesses being subpoenaed in order to avoid impediment to the ongoing investigation, so it would be inappropriate to comment on whether members have received subpoenas or not. If subpoenaed as witnesses, our members will certainly comply with requests for documents or information not covered by an applicable privilege.”
Dodge, dodge, dodge.
Perry’s phone was seized only after he refused to comply with a subpoena from the Jan. 6 committee. Though the FBI investigation in which it was seized is a separate matter from the committee investigation, it may have tipped them off that in his case, a subpoena wasn’t going to cut it. The seizure of Perry’s phone followed similar moves against John Eastman, an architect of the fake elector plan, and Jeffrey Clark, the former Justice Department official who Trump threatened to insert into the role of acting attorney general to help him overturn the election. Perry had introduced Trump to Clark.
Pennsylvania is just one of seven states where Trump allies set up or tried to set up slates of fake electors, so it’s an interesting question whether Republicans in the other states will be getting or have gotten FBI visits or whether Pennsylvania is special and in what ways. Also, if Perry isn’t the target of the investigation that led the FBI to track him down while he was traveling with his family in order to take his phone, then who is?
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