The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol has asked Rep. Scott PerryScott Gordon PerryHouse has the power to subpoena its members — but does it have the will? Jan. 6 committee asks Ivanka Trump to sit for interview GOP's McCarthy has little incentive to work with Jan. 6 panel MORE (R-Pa.) to meet with the panel and turn over information, a remarkable request that stops short of subpoenaing a sitting lawmaker.
The move follows prior reports that found Perry, the incoming chairman of the far-right Freedom Caucus, to be a central figure in former President TrumpDonald TrumpDeputy AG: DOJ investigating fake Trump electors Former Boston Red Sox star David Ortiz elected to Baseball Hall of Fame Overnight Health Care — Senators unveil pandemic prep overhaul MORE’s efforts to pressure the Department of Justice to act on his baseless claims of election fraud. That includes introducing the president to Jeffrey Clark, a midlevel Justice Department employee that Trump once weighed installing as attorney general.
Perry’s role in Trump’s pressure campaign at the Justice Department came to light following a Senate Judiciary Committee investigation into Trump’s plans to boot acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen, putting Clark in a better position to forward voting investigations in states where Trump lost. But the upheaval was stalled when several high-level Justice Department figures threatened to resign at a Jan. 3 White House meeting.
Perry also contacted top DOJ officials, including sending “a series of documents summarizing numerous Pennsylvania election fraud claims” on Dec. 27.
The lawmaker also led efforts to contest certification of Pennsylvania’s election results shortly after midnight once the Capitol was reopened following the attack.
The letter asks for Perry’s “voluntary cooperation” and that he turn over all his communications with Trump, the Trump legal team, and anything related to Jan. 6 or its planning.
“We have received evidence from multiple witnesses that you had an important role in the efforts to install Mr. Clark as acting Attorney General. Acting Attorney General Rosen and acting Deputy Attorney General Donoghue have provided evidence regarding these issues, and we have received evidence that others who worked with Mr. Clark were aware of these plans,” Rep. Bennie ThompsonBennie Gordon ThompsonAlex Jones says he invoked Fifth Amendment 'almost 100 times' before Jan. 6 panel Democrats ask for information on specialized Border Patrol teams The Hill's Morning Report - US warns Kremlin, weighs more troops to Europe MORE (D-Miss.), the chairman of the panel, wrote in a letter to Perry.
“We are also aware that you had multiple text and other communications with President Trump’s former Chief of Staff regarding Mr. Clark — and we also have evidence indicating that in that time frame you sent communications to the former Chief of Staff using the encrypted Signal app," Thompson wrote.
"Mr. Clark has informed us that he plans to invoke his 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination in anticipation of a deposition to be conducted by the Committee," Thompson added. "When Mr. Clark decided to invoke his 5th Amendment rights, he understood that we planned to pose questions addressing his interactions with you, among a host of other topics."
The Jan. 6 committee, created by Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiHouse leaders unveil bill to boost chip industry, science competitiveness with China Pelosi says she will run for reelection in 2022 Hoyer says 'significant' version of Build Back Better will pass this year MORE (D-Calif.), has referenced members of Congress in its investigation.
This month, the special panel made public the contents of text messages sent on Jan. 6 by a handful of House legislators, including Rep. Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanAre the legal walls closing in on Donald Trump? Biden: A good coach knows when to change up the team House has the power to subpoena its members — but does it have the will? MORE (R-Ohio), to Mark MeadowsMark MeadowsAre the legal walls closing in on Donald Trump? Jan. 6 probe roils Cheney race in Wyoming House has the power to subpoena its members — but does it have the will? MORE, who served as Trump’s White House chief of staff. Some Democrats not serving on the committee have publicly stated that they saw GOP lawmakers giving tours to Trump supporters in the days leading up to the attack, even though tours were banned due to the pandemic.
But Monday’s letter to Perry marked the first time the committee directly engaged with a sitting U.S. lawmaker. Last month, Perry was elected to be the next chairman of the Freedom Caucus, a band of conservative rabble rousers previously led by both Jordan and Meadows that became closely aligned with Trump during his presidency. Perry, a retired brigadier general in the Pennsylvania Army National Guard, is a veteran of the Iraq war.
“The Select Committee has tremendous respect for the prerogatives of Congress and the privacy of its Members. At the same time, we have a solemn responsibility to investigate fully all of these facts and circumstances,” Thompson wrote.
Perry’s office did not immediately respond to request for comment.
Trump repeatedly met resistance in his efforts to get the Justice Department to investigate his unproven allegations of voter fraud, with officials repeatedly failing to act on claims and conspiracies forwarded by Meadows.
The request to Perry shows the extent the committee has zeroed in on Trump’s actions at DOJ, which culminated with a Jan. 3 White House meeting in which the president was faced with resignations from DOJ officials and censure from his own staff. Then-White House Attorney Pat Cipollone called Clark’s plan to send letters to Georgia and other states suggesting a delay in their certification of votes a “murder-suicide pact.”
The committee has already sat with Rosen and Donoghue, who gave voluntary interviews. Clark, meanwhile, after a threat of contempt of Congress, is set to meet with the committee in order to plead the Fifth, a nod to the potential for criminal activity in the Justice Department efforts.
Perry reached out to Donoghue at Trump’s request, just hours after the former president asked for Donoghue’s number so that he might share it with lawmakers.
According to the Senate Judiciary report, Perry told Donoghue “that DOJ hadn’t done its job with respect to the elections” and claimed there were some 205,000 more votes than voters in the state and that 4,000 voters voted more than once.
“Perry added something to the effect of, ‘I think Jeff Clark is great. I like that guy a lot. He’s the kind of guy who could really get in there and do something about this,’” the report states.
Scott Wong contributed to this article, which was updated at 7:06 p.m.