Dec 20, 2021 - Politics & Policy

GOP Rep. Perry denies Jan. 6 panel's request for info

Man gestures while speaking at a podium that reads House Freedom Caucus in front of the U.S. Capitol building.

Rep. Scott Perry is joined by other members of the House Freedom Caucus at an August news conference in Washington, D.C. Photo: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

The House Jan. 6 select committee on Monday sent a letter to Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.) requesting information on his communications with the Trump administration in the run-up to the Capitol riot.

Driving the news: In a statement to Axios that mirrored tweets from Perry, the lawmaker said he declined the panel's request, calling the select committee "illegitimate, and not duly constituted under the rules of the US House of Representatives."

  • Perry’s refusal to provide information forces the nine House members that comprise the panel to decide whether to subpoena one of their colleagues for the first time.

Background: The letter marked the first known time the select committee has requested information directly from a sitting member of Congress.

  • Perry, the incoming chair of the right-wing House Freedom Caucus, filed the objection to Pennsylvania's electoral college votes on Jan. 6 along with Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.).

What they're saying: "We have received evidence from multiple witnesses that you had an important role in the efforts to install [Jeffrey Clark] as acting Attorney General," Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) wrote to Perry.

  • Thompson also cited "multiple text and other communications with President Trump’s former Chief of Staff regarding Mr. Clark," including messages on the encrypted communications app Signal.
  • Clark, a former top official at the Department of Justice, was a key player in a Senate report about former President Donald Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 election.

Between the lines: The request stopped short of a subpoena, the method the panel has used to extract testimony and documents from former Trump administration officials, Jan. 6 rally organizers and others.

  • "The Select Committee has tremendous respect for the prerogatives of Congress and the privacy of its Members," Thompson wrote, stressing that they are seeking "voluntary cooperation" from Perry.
  • Clark was subpoenaed by the committee for information on his alleged role in efforts to overturn the 2020 election but pled the Fifth Amendment in a deposition earlier this month after nearly being referred for contempt of Congress.
  • "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 wrote in his letter.
  • Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), one of the panel’s two Republican members, said Sunday the committee hasn’t ruled out subpoenas for members of Congress.

What's next: The panel may opt to subpoena Perry, which will could lead to a protracted legal battle.

  • In addition to turning over documents, Thompson asked Perry to participate in an interview in late December or early January, even offering to meet with him in his district.

Editor's note: This post has been updated to include news that Perry declined the Jan. 6 select committee's request.

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