U.S. House Jan. 6 committee: A look at the roles played by PA’S Perry, Mastriano

     

An image of a mock gallows on the grounds of the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, is shown during a House committee hearing. AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

 An image of a mock gallows on the grounds of the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, is shown during a House committee hearing (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite/The Conversation).

BY: MARLEY PARISH –

Pennsylvania Capitol-Star

JANUARY 6, 2023 

After interviewing more than 1,000 witnesses, reviewing millions of materials, and holding 10 public hearings, a U.S. House committee released its final 854-page report detailing the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol and how former President Donald Trump influenced efforts to overturn the 2020 election.

Thousands of supporters, fueled by misinformation about the election results, traveled to Washington, D.C. for a “Save America Rally” hosted by Trump that ended with a deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol and hundreds facing arrest for their actions on Jan. 6.

Two Pennsylvania Republicans — U.S. Rep. Scott Perry and Sen. Doug Mastriano — played a role in casting doubt on the results that elected now-President Joe Biden and helped further efforts to overturn the 2020 election results, the U.S. House committee outlined in its final report released last month.

Here’s a look at what the committee said about the role played by Perry, R-10th District, and Mastriano, R-Franklin, in the days leading up to the U.S. Capitol attack:

‘A key congressional ally’

Perry, a Trump ally and early supporter of the “Stop the Steal” campaign, refused to testify before the House committee, dismissing it as “illegitimate,” a decision that resulted in lawmakers on the bipartisan panel referring him — and four other Republicans — for ethics charges last month.

Despite his lack of participation in the committee’s investigation into Jan. 6, he played a key role in the findings outlined in its final report, which identifies him as a “key congressional [ally]” in Trump’s efforts to overturn the election results.

Perry was one of 27 Republican lawmakers who signed a Dec. 9, 2020, letter asking Trump to appoint a special counsel to “investigate irregularities” in the 2020 election. He also attended a Dec. 21 meeting at the White House, alongside 10 other Republican lawmakers, to strategize objections to the electoral results on Jan. 6.

The House report also further outlines previously detailed efforts by Perry to push for the appointment of Jeffrey Clark, an environmental lawyer, as acting attorney general to block election certification and spread election disinformation.

Perry introduced Clark to Trump, which violated Justice Department and White House policies. He also texted Mark Meadows, Trump’s former chief of staff, from Dec. 26, 2020, to Dec. 28, pressing him to call Clark.

“Eleven days to 1/6 and 25 days to inauguration,” Perry wrote in a text. “We gotta get going.”

Perry also called acting U.S. Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue to suggest that the Justice Department wasn’t doing anything to address election allegations, identifying Clark as someone who “would do something about this.”

On. Dec. 27, Perry emailed Donoghue and alleged that Pennsylvania election officials counted 205,000 more votes than were cast. However, the claim — also made by Trump and other supporters — was false.

Cassidy Hutchinson, a former Trump White House aide, testified last year that Perry was among a handful of Republicans who sought a presidential pardon after the Jan. 6 attack. Perry has denied the claim.

Close contact with Trump

Mastriano, a vocal Trump supporter and failed gubernatorial candidate in Pennsylvania, received a subpoena from the House panel last year and appeared to testify. However, the committee said he “logged out before answering any substantive questions” or taking an oath.

It’s no surprise that Mastriano was an asset to Trump’s attempt to cast doubt on the 2020 election results. But the final committee report details just how much the Republican senator was in contact with the former president and his staff before Jan. 6.

The report details the unofficial hearing Mastriano organized after the 2020 election in Gettysburg to discuss unsubstantiated claims of fraud. Trump was expected to attend but instead called in. The former president called Mastriano on Nov. 30, interrupting a radio interview, and telling listeners: “Doug is the absolute hero.”

On Dec. 5, Mastriano emailed Trump’s executive assistant with a Supreme Court brief to support a lawsuit filed by U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly, R-16th District, to throw out mail-in ballots. 

On Dec. 14, Trump’s executive assistant sent Mastriano an email “from POTUS” that included talking points promoting election conspiracy theories related to voting machines. One week later, Mastriano emailed the president again, attaching a “killer letter” that detailed the Nov. 25 Gettysburg hearing and claiming “rampant election fraud in Pennsylvania.”

Mastriano, along with a group of lawmakers, traveled to the White House on Dec. 23. He then sent emails that suggested he spoke with the former president on Dec. 27, 28, and 30.  

The House committee said Trump spoke to Mastriano on Jan. 5, telling the White House operator that Mastriano “will be calling in for the vice president.” The report states that Mastriano also sent two more emails for Trump with letters to former Vice President Mike Pence and U.S. House and Senate Republican leaders.

Mastriano funded a bus trip to the “Save America Rally” and has denied engaging in the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol. However, video footage shows he was closer to the violence than he initially claimed.

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