Perry must be subpoenaed — and/or booted

York Dispatch editorial board
FILE - Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., takes a question from a reporter at a news conference held by the House Freedom Caucus on Capitol Hill in Washington, on Aug. 23, 2021. The committee investigating the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol insurrection has requested an interview with Perry. The Republican lawmaker is the first sitting member of Congress the panel has requested to speak with.  (AP Photo/Amanda Andrade-Rhoades, File)

The attempted insurrection on Jan. 6 “isn’t just the biggest political event of 2021,” writes The Washington Post’s politics reporter Amber Phillips. “It’s the biggest political event of the decade, and it probably belongs in the first paragraph of America’s entire history.”

And smack in the middle of it is Rep. Scott Perry.

The Carroll Township Republican was an early and energetic proponent of the Big Lie; the fiction that former President Donald Trump won reelection despite substantial popular vote and Electoral College defeats — even if that meant disenfranchising his own constituents.

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Perry sought to throw out Pennsylvania’s election results in favor of Electoral College delegates supportive of Trump and, hours after the riotous and deadly assault on the halls of Congress, objected to counting Pennsylvania’s electoral votes on the House floor.

Now, the House panel investigating the events of and leading up to Jan. 6 believes Perry may have been more deeply involved in the machinations intended to overthrow the 2020 presidential election. And it would like to talk to him about it.

Select Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., sent a letter to Perry last week seeking his voluntary cooperation in providing records and in-person testimony.

Problem is, Perry doesn’t do cooperation.

“I stand with immense respect for our Constitution, the Rule of Law, and the Americans I represent who know that this entity is illegitimate, and not duly constituted under the rules of the US House of Representatives,” he stated on Twitter.

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Where to begin? His refusal to honor the results of the 2020 election — indeed, his actively seeking to undermine them — doesn’t just disrespect the Constitution, it subverts it. As for the select committee, it was duly established by a vote of the full House. As with the 2020 election results, just because Perry doesn’t like it doesn’t make it illegitimate.

The committee should waste no time in subpoenaing Perry. It must then have the courage to go after Perry when he ignores the subpoena, which he will almost certainly do. Perry’s contempt for the norms of government is well known, and other members of the House need to make clear that they will no longer stand for his antics.

This is no time for the deference congressional lawmakers customarily afford one another. The consequences for refusing to cooperate with the probe should include everything up to and including dismissal from the House.

Frankly, a representative who refuses to acknowledge the legitimacy of his own institution is no longer worthy of serving in that body.

Perry continually shows contempt for the legislative branch of government and those who serve it, actively tried to have to the votes of his own state nullified, and flouts his oaths as a member of both Congress and the military to protect the Constitution from enemies foreign and domestic.

He decided years ago to put allegiance to Trump ahead of his constituents, his country and the ideals of democracy. He must now face the consequences for his decisions and actions.

And should the investigation determine that Perry materially sought to overturn a free and fair election — that is, to overthrow the United States government — the penalties must fit the crime.

Like his blow-hard political hero, Perry has long lived in a world of his own making, where House colleagues support terrorism, masks and vaccines don’t suppress the spread of viruses, natural disasters are exaggerated by the media and conspiracy theories eclipse actual events.

The House select committee must bring him swiftly and compellingly back to reality by issuing, and insisting on compliance with, congressional subpoenas.