YORK COUNTY

York County lawmakers highlighted in Jan. 6 investigators' report

Matt Enright
York Dispatch

Several York County lawmakers are scrutinized in the House Select Committee's report on the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.

U.S. Rep. Scott Perry, R-Carroll Township, head of conservative group House Freedom Caucus and one of former President Donald Trump's staunchest allies, is mentioned several times, though much of the material was already aired during hearings and in a previous executive summary.

Perry, who was reelected in November, had been instrumental in introducing U.S. Department of Justice official Jeffrey Clark to Trump, with Perry asserting that Clark would be able to help shift votes toward the former president, according to investigators. He also coordinated with Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, on "Stop the Steal" messaging and advocated for Clark in a phone call with former Acting Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue. 

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According to Donoghue's notes, Perry told him that Trump had asked Perry to call him and that Perry didn't think the Department of Justice had been doing its job on the election.

"Perry also brought up Jeff Clark. He said he liked him and thought that Clark 'would do something about this,' meaning the election fraud allegations," the 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

While the committee has released several transcripts of testimony by witnesses, Donoghue's has not yet been released.

John Eastman, Trump's lawyer who was referred for criminal charges alongside Trump, invoked the Fifth Amendment in response to nearly every question asked of him by the House Select Committee investigators, according to a transcript of his testimony. That included questions about his interactions with Perry.

Perry refused to comply with a subpoena issued by the House Select Committee, for which the House Select Committee referred him to the House Ethics Committee. He did not respond to a request for comment.

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State Sen. Doug Mastriano, R-Franklin County, is also mentioned in the report, which highlights him as a key participant in the attempts to overturn the election in Pennsylvania. That included false election fraud information tweeted by Mastriano.

The report also outlines a November 2020 meeting requested by Mastriano with several state legislators where Trump called in and made it clear that the election should be overturned in his favor.

$1.3 million was spent by a handful of groups working to defeat Doug Mastriano, a state senator from Franklin County.

"Jenna Ellis told them that although Pennsylvania law dictates that electors are chosen by popular vote, '[y]ou can take that power back at any time,'" the report reads.

Ellis would later become a legal adviser to Mastriano's unsuccessful campaign for Pennsylvania governor; during that campaign, she would question governor-elect Josh Shapiro's faith, saying he was "at best a secular Jew." 

In a transcript of Ellis' testimony, she invokes the Fifth Amendment several times regarding her contact with Mastriano. That includes questions about a text chain involving Mastriano on Nov. 27, 2020, to discuss "internal legal strategy" for possible litigation.

"Any success with reaching out to friendly clerks to get ballot images and/or access to the Dominion Systems," Mastriano would write in that email, according to the transcript of Ellis' testimony.

"We made good headway convincing (hopefully) two counties with Dominion machines in Pennsylvania," Mastriano would write in a separate email dated Dec. 27, 2020.

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He would go on to attempt to convince multiple Pennsylvania counties, including York, to conduct election audits against the advice of the Pennsylvania Department of State.

In addition to those emails, Mastriano would also send letters to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that he described as being signed by colleagues in the Pennsylvania Legislature. The letters asked that the certification of electoral votes be disputed until an investigation was completed.

Mastriano did not respond to a request for comment.

State Rep. Seth Grove, R-Dover Township, is also mentioned in the report as part of an email chain regarding "Connections for Today!" That email chain was between Grove, lawyers John Eastman and Cleta Marshall and Lisa Nelson, according to the report. Grove is cited in a footnote regarding a memo drafted by Eastman called "The Constitutional Authority of State Legislatures to Choose Electors."

Rep Seth Grove, seen here with Margo Davidson, plans to call a series of hearings to review rules and procedures for how legislators file expenses.

"In her email, Mitchell asked Eastman to write a memo justifying an idea that State legislators 'reclaim' the power to pick electors and asked, rhetorically, 'Am I crazy,'" the report reads. "Dr. Eastman wrote the memo, entitled 'The Constitutional Authority of State Legislatures to Choose Electors,' and sent it along for sharing 'widely.'"

It is not known what the email chain contains or if Grove, who served as chair of the House State Government Committee, was an active participant or merely copied on the email. The Jan. 6 committee has not released any documents regarding the email chain, and Grove did not respond to a request for comment Friday.

In his testimony, Eastman was asked about two memos, though neither is specifically identified as "The Constitutional Authority of State Legislatures to Choose Electors." The memos reportedly regard the supposed ability of former Vice President Mike Pence to reject electors from seven states and cause the decision to be made by the U.S. House of Representatives.

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