It was late last year when the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack announced that it wanted to hear answers from a specific Republican lawmaker: Pennsylvania’s Scott Perry. He wasted little time in announcing that he would refuse to assist in the investigation.
It was at that point that many Americans probably asked, “Who?”
There’s no shortage of high-profile members in the House GOP conference, but Perry isn’t necessarily one of them. Unlike some of his Republican brethren who never miss an opportunity to appear in the media, Perry likely couldn’t be picked out of a lineup by much of the public.
But as new information comes to light about GOP efforts to overturn the 2020 election, Perry’s name keeps coming up for a reason. The latest court filing from the bipartisan committee, for example, that Perry, the chair of the right-wing House Freedom Caucus, was directly involved with White House talks as Donald Trump and his team explored how to claim power they hadn’t earned.
Indeed, according to testimony from a White House aide, Perry endorsed a plan “to direct thousands of angry marchers” to the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.
The same former aide from the Trump White House said that Perry was present when lawyers warned that a fake-electors scheme was not “legally sound,” though many Republicans proceeded with the scheme anyway.
But of particular interest are some of the conspiracy theories the Pennsylvania congressman shared with the White House in the wake of Trump’s defeat. CNN reported yesterday on newly released text messages:
The texts, which were among those selectively provided by Donald Trump’s former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows to the House select committee, show Rep. Scott Perry pushing to have the nation’s top intelligence official investigate baseless conspiracy theories and working to replace the US acting attorney general with an acolyte willing to do Trump’s bidding.
Five days after the election was called for Joe Biden, Perry sent a message to Meadows that read, “From an Intel friend: DNI needs to task NSA to immediately seize and begin looking for international comms related to Dominion.” As CNN’s report explained, Perry appeared to encourage the then-White House chief of staff to get the Director of National Intelligence to order the National Security Agency to investigate debunked claims that Dominion voting machines were hacked by China.
The same day, the Republican lawmaker again reached out to Meadows, claiming that our British allies orchestrated a secret plot to manipulate U.S. voting machines and that Gina Haspel, the Trump-appointed director of the CIA, was helping cover it up.
Remember, we’re not just talking about some random person, peddling ridiculous ideas via social media. Rather, these messages were written by a five-term member of Congress, who was communicating at the time with the man responsible for overseeing the White House.
For those familiar with Perry’s record, this may not come as a surprise: The congressman has spent years promoting weird conspiracy theories with little connection to reality.
But the ideas the Pennsylvania Republican shared with Meadows appear to be utterly bonkers. It makes me wonder how big a role he'll have on Capitol Hill next year if voters elect a GOP majority.
Indeed, as Rachel explained on the show last night, if the Republican majority — if it exists — is modest, the Freedom Caucus will have considerable influence over what can pass in the House. And right now, the Freedom Caucus is led by Perry, who believes some deeply weird stuff and who endorsed dispatching an angry mob on the seat of our government on Jan. 6.