YORK COUNTY

What could the future hold for US Rep. Scott Perry?

Matt Enright
York Dispatch

Republican U.S. Rep. Scott Perry's name appears repeatedly in the interim report released this week by the U.S. House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.

On Monday, investigators recommended an ethics probe into the York County congressman — in addition to criminal charges against former President Donald Trump.

But how much trouble could Perry actually be facing?

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"It's hard to believe that if it gets referred to a House committee, they take any action against him," said G. Terry Madonna, who has decades of experience polling voters and covering elections at Franklin & Marshall College and Millersville University.

There's a simple reason for that.

Come January, Republicans will hold a slim majority in the U.S. House, and few Republicans — beyond outgoing Jan. 6 committee members Liz Cheney, of Wyoming, and Adam Kinzinger, of Illinois — have shown much appetite for investigating their own.

 “If left unpunished, such behavior undermines Congress’s longstanding power to investigate in support of its lawmaking authority and suggests that members of Congress may disregard legal obligations that apply to ordinary citizens," the committee's introductory report reads.

U.S. Congressman Scott Perry speaks during the York County Republicans watch party at Wisehaven Event Center in Windsor Township, Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022. Dawn J. Sagert/The York Dispatch

Perry, meanwhile, remained defiant throughout the process, including the denial of the subpoena. When the Department of Justice seized his cellphone in August, he quickly sued.

"More games from a petulant and soon-to-be defunct kangaroo court desperate for revenge and struggling to get out from under the weight of its own irrelevancy," Perry spokesman Jay Ostrich said of the committee's referral, in a written statement.

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The Jan. 6 committee's 154-page report alleges that Perry had "material facts" regarding Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 election. It recommended that the House Ethics Committee step in following Perry's refusal to comply with an earlier subpoena.

"Perry was working with [Department of Justice official Jeffrey] Clark and with President Trump and Chief of Staff Mark Meadows with this goal: to enlist Clark to reverse the Department of Justice’s findings regarding the election and help overturn the election outcome," the report reads.

Clark, who worked in environmental affairs with the Justice Department and had no involvement with elections, was nevertheless positioned by Perry and others as someone who would be able to subvert the election results in Trump's favor, according to House investigators.

FILE - Jeffrey Clark, then-Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division, speaks during a news conference at the Justice Department in Washington, on Sept. 14, 2020. Federal agents have searched the Virginia home of the Trump-era Justice Department official who championed efforts by President Donald Trump to overturn the results of the 2020 election.  (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, Pool, File)

That included several text messages between Dec. 26 and Dec. 28 from Perry to Meadows, the former White House chief of staff, pressing for Clark to be elevated in the Department of Justice.

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"Representative Perry was present for conversations in which the White House Counsel’s Office informed him and others that President Trump’s efforts to submit fake electoral votes were not legally sound," the report alleges. "In the days before Jan. 6, Representative Perry advocated for President Trump to speak at the Capitol during the joint session, speaking to Mark Meadows on at least one occasion about it. He was also a participant in the Jan. 2, 2021, call in which Rep. [Jim] Jordan, President Trump and others discussed issuing social media posts to encourage Trump supporters to march to the Capitol on January 6th."

Madonna said the full report would provide clarity about whether Perry has been referred to the Justice Department for criminal proceedings. The committee referred Trump to the department Monday.

"We'll have to wait and see," Madonna said.

The full report is expected to be released this week, according to NBCNews.

According to the Jan. 6 committee's latest report, acting Attorney General Jeff Rosen first learned about Clark's involvement through a phone call on Christmas Eve with Trump, who mentioned that he'd been in contact with Clark — a violation of both Justice Department and White House policies designed to prevent political pressure on the department.

Jeffrey Rosen, former acting Attorney General, left, and Richard Donoghue, former acting Deputy Attorney General, arrive as the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol continues to reveal its findings of a year-long investigation, at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, June 23, 2022. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

When confronted, Clark didn't "immediately volunteer" that he had met with Trump, and when he did, he said that he'd been in a meeting with Trump and other people, according to the report. As Clark put it, he had had a meeting with Perry and "to his surprise" somehow wound up in a meeting at the Oval Office.

Less than five days later, Clark would violate that policy again, according to the report, reportedly meeting with both Trump and Perry.

"Around the same time, Representative Perry called Acting Deputy Attorney General [Richard] Donoghue, criticized the FBI, and suggested that the Department hadn’t been doing its job. Perry told Donoghue that Clark “would do something about this,'" the report reads.

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Clark then drafted a letter to the Georgia Legislature pushing state officials there to convene a special legislative session to reconsider the election results, intended to be one of several letters sent to swing states that had voted for President Joe Biden.

"'[W]e simply do not currently have a basis to make such a statement. Despite dramatic claims to the contrary, we have not seen the type of fraud that calls into question the reported (and certified) results of the election,'" Donoghue replied in an email to Clark, according to the report.

The introductory material also includes a letter from Perry's attorney, John Rowley III, denying the Select Committee's subpoena of the representative.

Meanwhile, a public records case involving The York Dispatch, York Daily Record and PennLive over judicial records in the Perry investigation was heard by a U.S. District Court judge Tuesday. No final decision has yet been made over the effort to unseal documents in the case, including the Justice Department's warrant for Perry's cellphone.

— Reach Matt Enright via email at menright@yorkdispatch.com or via Twitter at @Matthew_Enright.