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Perry questioned Pa.'s electors; now calls for calm during chaos

Logan Hullinger
York Dispatch
Incumbent congressman Scott Perry talks to the media while waiting in line with his wife Christy, and their daughters Mattea, 9, and Ryenn, 11, right, at the polls at Monaghan Presbyterian Church in Dillsburg Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020. Perry is defending his seat against Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale. Bill Kalina photo

Congressman Scott Perry on Wednesday urged calm after protesters breached the U.S. Capitol, forcing its closure and evacuation.

The Carroll Township Republican and his colleagues had just begun hearing objections to states' Electoral College votes in support of President-elect Joe Biden. It was part of a bid from Trump's congressional supporters, including Perry, to overturn Biden's victory. 

However, pro-Trump protesters breached the Capitol and stormed the House and Senate chambers, according to The Associated Press, while lawmakers and journalists were evacuated. 

More:LIVE VIDEO: Trump supporters storm US Capitol, clash with police

More:Perry, Smucker plan to object to Electoral College certification

"Today in DC should have been about meaningful debate, peaceful protest and the Rule of Law — not chaos and talks of coups," Perry tweeted. "I unequivocally condemn any violence and criminal acts taking place, and pray for a restoration of peace."

A significant portion of those responding to Perry's condemnation accused the Freedom Caucus member as well as the president of being complicit in the violence.

Perry last week had already indicated he would vote against Biden electors, and he has a history of repeating the same baseless falsehoods about the November election.

Perry's spokesperson Laura Detter declined to comment when asked later Wednesday whether Perry regretted contributing to those talking points, given the breach of the Capitol.

Perry was, however, safe, she said as of 4 p.m.

Earlier Wednesday, Trump had called Vice President Mike Pence, who was also evacuated, a "coward" for not moving to block Biden's electors, setting the tone for the calamitous demonstration. It was the culmination of a months-long crusade by Trump to overturn his loss to Biden, a crusade fueled by conspiracy theories and political threats. 

Prior to the storming of Capitol Hill, Trump rallied his supporters outside the White House and reiterated baseless conspiracy theories about election fraud and illegal voting practices in swing states, including in Pennsylvania.

“I’m calling on Congress and state legislatures to pass sweeping election reforms, and you better do it before we have no country left,” Trump said. “Today is not the end, it is just the beginning.”

After the violence erupted, Trump in a tweet asked his supporters to remain peaceful. 

Perry has been one of the president's most adamant supporters within Pennsylvania's congressional delegation, including his support for Trump's effort to override voters in Congress.

Rep. Lloyd Smucker, R-Lancaster, also indicated last week he would support blocking Biden electors.

"I am horrified by the violence and destruction at the Capitol," Smucker tweeted, adding he and his staff were safe. "This is not who we are as a country. Please go home now."

Smucker spokesperson Eric Reath did not immediately respond to follow-up questions.

Perry, though, has gone further than his Lancaster colleague in opposing election results.

For example, he was among 126 House Republicans to sign on to an amicus brief supporting a petition last month that would have disenfranchised nearly 150,000 voters in his own district.

The petition, filed by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, would have nullified election results in Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan and Wisconsin.

Smucker did not sign on to the brief.

The U.S. Supreme Court promptly rejected the measure because of a lack of standing. It was one of dozens of legal challenges to election results that was shot down.

— Logan Hullinger can be reached at lhullinger@yorkdispatch.com or via Twitter at @LoganHullYD.