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Pennsylvania Rep. Scott Perry could face Ethics Committee for refusing Jan. 6 subpoena

  • Robby Brod
FILE PHOTO: In this Oct. 8, 2019 file photo, Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa. from Pennsylvania's 10th U.S. Congressional District, appears before reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington.

 Andrew Harnik / AP Photo

FILE PHOTO: In this Oct. 8, 2019 file photo, Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa. from Pennsylvania's 10th U.S. Congressional District, appears before reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington.

As Donald Trump learned that he might face criminal charges for his efforts to overturn the presidential election of 2020, midstate congressman Scott Perry learned that he might face sanctions from the House Ethics Committee for his role in that scheme.

Perry’s name is mentioned 22 times across 16 pages in a report released Monday by the House Jan. 6 Select Committee.

The panel showed how Perry helped Assistant Attorney General Jeff Clark meet with Trump despite policies which forbid that. The committee did not recommend criminal charges for Perry, but did say that his refusal to honor a subpoena to testify before the panel violates House rules.

The committee recommended the House Ethics Committee sanction Perry and three other Republican members of Congress who refused subpoenas to testify.

They include House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California, Jim Jordan of Ohio, and Andy Biggs of Arizona.

Perry’s office did not return a request for comment. He represents all of Dauphin and parts of Cumberland and York counties

Select Committee member Jamie Raskin, a Democrat from Maryland, said the members were called to testify “based on the volume of information” they possessed about Trump’s plan to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

“We understand the gravity of each and every referral we are making today. Just as we understand the magnitude of the crime against democracy that we describe in our report,” Raskin said. “But we have gone where the facts and the law lead us, and inescapably, they lead us here.”

The full report details the recommendations, claiming Perry and other members of Congress violated the rules of the House by failing to testify.

“Their willful noncompliance violates multiple standards of conduct and subjects them to discipline,” the report reads. “If left unpunished, such behavior undermines Congress’s longstanding power to investigate in support of its lawmaking authority and suggests that Members of Congress may disregard legal obligations that apply to ordinary citizens.”

The House January 6th Select Committee recommended House Ethics Committee sanctions for U.S. Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.) for his refusal of a subpoena to testify. (House Jan. 6 Select Committee)

It’s not yet known if the House Ethics Committee plans to act on the recommendations. Its leadership is expected to change when Republicans take control of the House in January. 

Republican strategist Sam Chen doesn’t expect the select committee’s recommendations to change much.

“Generally, they recommend anything from a censure – which is just a slap on the wrist – to committee reassignment, all the way up to expulsion [from Congress],” he said. “But now that’s going to be a much more difficult vote to get in the Republican House than just a censure. So I think that’s going to be the challenge moving forward.”

Chen worked as campaign manager for Pennsylvania Republican Rep. Charlie Dent, who chaired the House Ethics Committee from 2015-2017.

He said the Jan. 6 Committee’s recommendations, and any potential action from the House Ethics Committee, would only embolden the pro-Trump House Freedom Caucus, which Rep. Scott Perry leads.

“The Freedom Caucus very much takes the approach of ‘the louder, the better,’ and so this is not something that I think is going to deter them,” he said. “Even if convictions come down, removals, things like that, you’re going to see them use it as fuel for the fire.”

Perry’s relationship with Justice Department lawyer Jeffrey Clark was cited during the hearing. Trump planned to install Clark as attorney general in 2020 to act on his debunked election fraud claims.

Adam Kinzinger, a Republican from Illinois, says Perry introduced Trump to Clark after DOJ officials refused to act on the president’s baseless claims of election fraud.

“On several occasions, Clark met with [President Trump], apparently, along with Representative Scott Perry, without authorization, promising to take the actions that Barr, Rosen and Donaghue had refused to take,” Kinzinger said.

Soon after the meeting, Clark drafted a letter with the help of a White House-appointed aide installed at the DOJ.

“Mr. Clark intended to send the letter to officials in numerous states, informing them, falsely, of course, that the department had identified significant concerns about the election results in their state and encouraging their state legislatures to come into special session to consider appointing Trump [electors] rather than binding electors,” the report wrote.

It remains to be seen how DOJ and the House Ethics Committee decide to handle the Jan. 6 Committee’s recommendations.

Regardless, Chen hopes the decisions are made without considering party politics.

“I think we have to cool the jets a little bit about the political side of it, of what we want to see or don’t want to see as politically minded people, and allow these respective groups to do their jobs based on the standards that they have to uphold,” Chen said.

The Jan. 6 Committee recommended criminal charges for Trump and others, and hinted that the DOJ might want to charge more people than the panel recommends.

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