The FBI subpoenaed several Pa. GOP lawmakers and we still don’t know why
The FBI and the Pennsylvania legislature remain tight-lipped about subpoenas that agency handed out to several Republican lawmakers last week. Neither has revealed who got a subpoena or why.
PennLive has reported requests for materials were handed out in the House and Senate, and that the requests are likely related to a probe over the potential role of U.S. Rep. Scott Perry (R, PA-10) in attempts to overturn the country’s 2020 presidential vote.
The Washington Post reported the Justice Department is particularly interested in a scheme to appoint slates of illegitimate Republican electors. The January 6th committee made that plot a centerpiece of its June 21 public hearing.
But no official has confirmed any details of last week’s requests. Four Harrisburg-based staffers for Republican Reps. Mike Jones (R-York) and Dawn Keefer (R-York) told WITF the FBI did not approach them. Keefer’s district office in York said agents did not visit there either. Jones’ district office did not respond to requests for comment.
Some district offices, including that of Rep. Dave Zimmerman (R-Lancaster), said they were sticking with House Republican Jason Gottesman’s statement when asked about the incident.
“We do not comment concerning potential or existing ongoing investigations,” Gottesman said last Wednesday.
Carrie Adamowski, the FBI Public Affairs Officer for its Philadelphia Division, said the Bureau would “decline comment” when asked about whether investigators had served subpoenas on lawmakers last week.
Dickinson College President John E. Jones III, who served as a federal judge in Pennsylvania’s Middle District for almost two decades, said there may be a reason details are under wraps.
“It [a subpoena] could be misleading to the public and cast them [lawmakers] in a bad light that’s undeserved under the circumstances,” Jones said.
Jones explained subpoenas are governed by Rule 45 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which allow subpoena recipients to redact or keep certain information, like personal records, under seal.
“That happens all the time in investigations so it doesn’t fall into the hands of third parties or those who might misuse the information.”
It may be a while before the public knows anything more about the subpoenas. Jones said investigators are likely giving GOP lawmakers time to collect information that they’ll retrieve later. The lawmakers can then try to limit the material they hand over if they feel the FBI’s requests are too broad or burdensome.
Even after clearing those hurdles, investigators will likely need more time to determine if they can use any of the information.
“There could be months and months elapsing before anything happens, if it happens,” Jones said. “The government builds its case one building block at a time, and as is frequently said by prosecutors, they follow the facts wherever they may lead.”
Jones added any state lawmaker that received a subpoena is free to talk about it at any time, since there’s no federal “prohibition” against disclosing its details.