A poster boy for partisan investigations

York Dispatch

The overarching Republican response to investigations of the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol has long been summed up by their defensive mantra: “Investigate the investigators.”

Rep. Scott Perry plans to take that stance a step further: The investigated is going to investigate the investigators.

That’s the scenario now that Perry, head of the conservative House Leadership Caucus, has been gifted a seat on the Oversight and Accountability Committee in exchange for his eventual and grudging support of new Speaker Kevin McCarthy.

FILE - In this Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2019 file photo, Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., appears before reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington. The premier congressional races in Pennsylvania feature two Republican House members from opposite sides of the party's ideological spectrum trying to hang on for another term after recording narrow wins two years ago.(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

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As a member of the House’s chief investigative committee, Perry will now be in the unique position of taking part in oversight of federal agencies, including those looking into his role in the Jan. 6 insurrection.

Yes, this is akin to having allowed Osama bin Laden to examine the FBI investigation of the 9/11 attacks.

No, Perry doesn’t care.

“Why should I be limited, why should anybody be limited, just because someone has made an accusation?” he asked, preposterously, on ABC’s “This Week” last month.

Not just “someone,” congressman; federal investigators. And not just any “accusations.” The York-area Republican is accused of playing a central role in ongoing efforts by former President Donald Trump to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election — results Perry refused to affirm in the hours after the Jan. 6 attack.

It’s a neat trick: characterizing a serious and specific allegation as a benign and harmless disagreement. You say sedition, I say accusation.

Perry resorted to the same defense, if one can call it that, later in the same interview. When asked by host George Stephanopoulos how he could act as an impartial investigator given his role as a subject of the investigation, Perry again downplayed the depth of the allegations.

“Should everybody in Congress that disagrees with somebody be barred from doing the oversight and investigative powers that Congress has?” he asked, grossly misstating the argument.

If nothing else, it’s refreshing to hear Perry defend the House’s “oversight and investigative powers.” He has long failed to acknowledge those very powers and responsibilities, ignoring subpoenas and refusing to cooperate with numerous probes into his actions before, during and after Jan. 6. And he remains in a heated battle with the FBI over the contents of his cellphone, which the agency seized last summer.

Perry’s role was such that the bipartisan House committee that investigated the Jan. 6 attacks under the previous Congress referred him to the House Ethics Committee. That committee, however, has been conveniently neutered by the new Republican majority.

The refusal of Perry to recuse himself, the declared intentions to target the Biden family and the formation of a so-called Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government (not that they’ve come to any hasty conclusions), give up House GOP game. Republicans will employ government means for partisan ends by conducting questionable probes intended to discredit their foes, protect their allies and cast doubt on legitimate findings conducted by fair and thorough-going investigations.

It’s a sad abuse of power and the fact that such little effort is being made to hide their intentions demonstrates the lack of conscience on the part of the new House leadership.

And the poster boy for these shabby and politically motivated maneuvers is very likely to be none other than Scott Perry.