Jan. 6 committee sends letter to GOP lawmaker Scott Perry asking him to interview

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The committee has yet to issue a summons for Perry’s testimony. Instead, the panel sends a letter formally requesting Perry’s cooperation. Perry, a member of the House Freedom Caucus, is the first lawmaker to receive such a letter from the committee.

The letter, released Monday, marks a milestone in the investigation and highlights how the panel is focusing on Trump’s closest allies on Capitol Hill.

“Right now, the select committee is asking for your voluntary cooperation,” wrote Democratic Representative Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, who chairs the committee.

In the letter, the committee says it wants to discuss Perry’s attempt to install former Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark as acting attorney general.

“We have received evidence from several witnesses that you have played an important role in efforts to install Mr. Clark as acting attorney general,” Thompson said in the letter.

Thompson adds that then Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen and then Acting Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue, both of whom were interviewed by the committee, “provided evidence regarding these issues. , and we received evidence that other people who worked with Mr. Clark were aware of these plans.

CNN has contacted Perry’s office for comment.

In its letter, the committee tells Perry that Clark, against whom the panel has initiated criminal contempt proceedings but has had a second chance to come and argue the Fifth Amendment, is aware that the committee is considering asking him questions about his interactions with Perry. .

The letter to Perry also says the committee is aware of “several texts and other communications” with former Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows, including evidence the couple communicated through the encrypted app called Signal.

Directly addressing Perry’s role in spreading misinformation about the 2020 presidential election, the committee writes in its letter that it knows the Pennsylvania lawmaker has contacted the White House on various matters, including “allegations that the Dominion’s voting machines had been corrupted “.

The committee proposes to schedule a meeting with Perry on December 28, December 29, January 3, January 4, or the week of January 10, when the House resumes its sitting. The committee also suggests that this meeting could take place in Perry’s home neighborhood if that accommodation works better. In addition to an interview, the committee also asks Perry to turn over all relevant documents and communications related to January 6.

Before this letter, a Senate report of the Democrats of the judicial commission characterized Perry as a key player in Trump’s attempts to pressure the Justice Department to support his bogus electoral fraud conspiracy theories, which Trump says would lead Congress to overturn his 2020 defeat against Joe Biden.
Perry put Trump in touch with Clark, who was open to his allegations of electoral fraud, while Trump sent Perry to try to convince senior Justice Department officials that the election was stolen, the Senate panel said. .

The Pennsylvania Republican is one of three people Senate Democrats singled out whose connection to Jan. 6 was “particularly notable” and warranted further investigation beyond the scope of their investigation.

The letter to Perry comes as the House select committee has made it clear that it will not spare Republican lawmakers from scrutiny as part of its full investigation, an extraordinary dynamic that may involve some members of the House. in a plot to overturn the elections which will almost certainly go further and stir up party divisions.

In its report to detain Meadows for criminal contempt, the House select committee revealed a text from an unknown lawmaker who applauded the then White House chief of staff for installing Clark in the Justice Department. During the business meeting on the Meadows report, committee vice-chair, Republican Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, took note of the interaction between Meadows and a congressman regarding Clark.

“As Mr. Meadows’ non-privileged texts reveal, he communicated on several occasions with a member of Congress – one of our current-serving colleagues – who was working with Mr. Clark,” Cheney said at the time. “Mr. Meadows has no reason to decline to testify regarding these communications.”

Perry’s office did not respond to multiple requests from CNN to confirm or deny that he was in contact with Meadows about Clark’s appointment.

Earlier this month, Thompson indicated that the subpoena of lawmakers’ files was still on the table.

“Absolutely,” said Thompson when asked if it was possible to subpoena his colleagues’ files. “I mean, it’s, you know, it’s an investigation. And we are methodically following the investigation. At this point, we’ll make the ultimate decision, if that’s the direction we want to go.”

Taking the initiative to involve their colleagues in the House in their investigation carries risks and the possibility of lengthy legal battles. If they regain a majority next fall, Republicans have already threatened to use the powers of Congress to launch politically motivated investigations in the same way Democrats have used the Jan.6 select committee.

But the committee seems ready to move in that direction.

Representative Scott Perry is seen at the Capitol Visitor Center in May.

As recently as last week, committee members posted text messages from unidentified lawmakers to Meadows and read them aloud on the House floor. The committee obtained the messages from the 6,000 documents Meadows handed over before ceasing to cooperate and used them as evidence to hold Meadows in criminal contempt of Congress, which is now in the hands of the Department of Justice.

Although the committee has yet to name the lawmaker whose texts it has received so far, Thompson told CNN, “there will be no surprises as to who they are.”

While committee members have yet to even name lawmakers who may be interested in their investigation, the deliberate release of text messages last week was a strong signal. In addition to examining the role Trump played through January 6, the investigation also deeply explores how some members of Congress helped set the stage for the riot – not only by helping to spread false allegations of fraud. election, but also by helping to develop a plan to overthrow the January 6 elections.

Among the latest batch of text messages it received from Meadows, the committee pointed to a handful that showed some lawmakers were encouraging it to continue its efforts to undermine the election results.

On January 5, for example, an “anonymous lawmaker” whom CNN confirmed to be Representative Jim Jordan, texted Meadows describing a legal theory that then Vice President Mike Pence had the power. obstruct certification. of the 2020 elections.

Other texts released by the committee show GOP lawmakers begging Meadows to encourage Trump to tell his supporters to leave the Capitol on January 6.

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“The president must stop this as soon as possible,” read a message from a Republican member, according to Cheney.

“Fix this now,” another GOP lawmaker sent to Meadows on Jan.6, Cheney said.

The caucus of GOP House members who continue to peddle lies about the 2020 election results or who have been active in strategizing to oppose certification of the electoral vote is not hard to identify. .

Perry is not the only GOP House member who has actively worked to undermine the election results. He is also not the only member who refuses to accept that the 2020 results are accurate.

At a recent House Rules Committee meeting, where the committee considered the criminal contempt referral of Trump’s ally, Steve Bannon, Jordan and Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz were repeatedly invited to they thought Biden won the election. They both said they recognize Biden as president, but declined to say he won.

Perry, Jordan and Gaetz are among a list of Republican members that the committee has asked carriers to keep this CNN’s communications records exclusively reported in August.

The committee did not disclose these names publicly, but that the list includes the names of representatives Lauren Boebert of Colorado, Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, Andy Biggs of Arizona, Paul Gosar also of Arizona, Mo Brooks of the ‘Alabama, Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina, Louie Gohmert of Texas and Jody Hice of Georgia.

Current minority parliamentary leader Kevin McCarthy, who has threatened telecommunications companies with retaliation if they comply with the committee’s request, is also on that list.

It is unclear whether the list reflects those with whom the committee requested talks on Monday and separately, what means the committee will use to force carriers to cooperate with their request.

This story was updated with additional developments on Monday.


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