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House Jan. 6 committee seeks information from GOP Rep. Perry about communications with Trump White House officials

Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.) participates in a panel discussing the aviation industry in 2018 in Washington.
Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.) participates in a panel discussing the aviation industry in 2018 in Washington. (Kate Patterson/For The Washington Post)
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The House select committee investigating the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 sent a letter Monday to Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.) requesting that he provide information that could be crucial to the panel’s examination of efforts to overturn the election.

The letter from committee Chairman Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.) cites Perry’s efforts to install Jeffrey Clark, a former Justice Department official, in the role of acting attorney general as reason for seeking Perry’s voluntary cooperation with the committee.

Perry introduced Clark to President Donald Trump, according to a report released by the Senate Judiciary Committee in October. Clark went on to play a key role in Trump’s efforts to challenge the election results.

Thompson also cites evidence of Perry’s “multiple text and other communications with President Trump’s former Chief of Staff regarding Mr. Clark,” according to the letter.

The House select committee investigating the attempted insurrection at the Capitol on Jan. 6 faces an uphill battle with former Trump administration officials. (Video: Blair Guild/The Washington Post)

“We also have evidence indicating that in that time frame you sent communications to the former Chief of Staff using the encrypted Signal app,” writes Thompson.

Perry, who led the objection to certifying Pennsylvania’s electoral votes won by Joe Biden, has emerged in recent weeks as the leading conduit for House Republicans involved with Trump’s efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

The text message sent to former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, and first revealed by Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), vice chair of the select committee, asking him to “Please check your signal” was sent by Perry, according to two sources familiar with the documents provided by Meadows.

The sources spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe private communications.

“Are you kidding me?” Perry snapped last week after he was asked if he was one of the lawmakers with whom Meadows was texting about overturning Biden’s victory.

The letter to Perry is the first significant action the committee has taken with regard to obtaining information from a sitting member of Congress. A pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6 to try to stop the affirmation of Biden’s win over Trump, an attack that resulted in the deaths of five people and injuries to some 140 members of law enforcement.

Thompson, who also asked that Perry meet with the committee at the end of the month or at the beginning of next year, has previously said that the panel will not be reluctant to subpoena any member of Congress “whose testimony is germane to the mission of the select committee,” if they resist cooperating voluntarily.

Still, legal experts said there is little precedent for forcing lawmakers to testify as part of a congressional inquiry in the event that they resist a subpoena.

Investigators have collected evidence from former acting deputy attorney general Richard P. Donoghue, acting attorney general Jeffrey Rosen and others on the nature of the relationship between Perry and Clark, according to Thompson’s letter to Perry.

“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,” Thompson added.

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