Jan. 6 Committee Requests to Interview a Sitting Member of Congress for First Time

The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol has requested its first interview with a current member of Congress, requesting to talk to Republican Rep. Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, the panel said Monday.

The Democratic chair of the panel, Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson, sent a letter to Perry that said they received evidence that gave them a reason to speak with him about his interactions with former President Donald Trump in the days leading up to Jan. 6.

Perry and other Republicans allegedly met with Trump to discuss ways they could stop the election results from being certified on Jan. 6. Perry also allegedly introduced Trump to then-assistant attorney general Jeffrey Clark and was part of the group who said Clark should be installed as acting attorney general to carry out their plan.

The request is the first time the committee has asked to interview a sitting member of Congress, as they said Perry was part of the internal pressure on the Justice Department to intervene in the election and stop or reverse the results.

The panel has also reportedly requested any records of communication between Perry and Trump or members of his legal team involved in the planning of Jan. 6.

Perry has said he, Trump and Clark met and discussed the concerns they had about the security and validity of the election. He has also publicly disputed and refused to accept President Joe Biden's victory in the election.

The panel previously voted to hold Clark in contempt following a deposition in which he refused to answer questions, and Thompson has said the committee is not pursuing the charges until they try to depose Clark again.

His lawyer has said Clark will continue to assert his Fifth Amendment rights to not incriminate himself once the second deposition takes place. It was rescheduled because Clark is dealing with a medical condition that has not been made public.

Scott Perry, House January 6 Committee Interview
Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., takes a question from a reporter at a news conference held by the House Freedom Caucus on Capitol Hill in Washington, on Aug. 23, 2021. The committee investigating the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol insurrection has requested an interview with Perry, the first sitting member of Congress the panel has requested to speak with. Amanda Andrade-Rhoades/Associated Press File

In Thompson's letter, he said the panel had received evidence from multiple witnesses, including then-acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen and then-acting Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue, that Perry had "an important role" in efforts to install Clark as acting attorney general.

An Associated Press request for comment left with Perry's office was not immediately returned.

The lawmaker representing Pennsylvania's 10th District was cited more than 50 times in a Senate Judiciary report released in October outlining how Trump's effort to overturn his 2020 election defeat brought the Justice Department to the brink of chaos and prompted top officials there and at the White House to threaten to resign.

The Justice Department found no evidence of widespread fraud in Pennsylvania or any other state, and senior Justice officials dismissed Perry's claims

The recent Senate report outlined a call Perry made to Donoghue last December to say the department wasn't doing its job with respect to the elections. Perry encouraged Donoghue to elicit Clark's help because he's "the kind of guy who could really get in there and do something about this," the report said.

Perry has previously said his "official communications" with Justice Department officials were consistent with the law.

The letter sent Monday night is the first time the panel has publicly released a request to a fellow member of Congress as it investigates Trump's communications with his Republican allies. But the panel notably did not subpoena Perry, as it has other witnesses close to Trump whom lawmakers believe have relevant information.

In his letter to Perry, Thompson added that the panel "has tremendous respect for the prerogatives of Congress and the privacy of its Members. At the same time, we have a solemn responsibility to investigate fully all of these facts and circumstances."

The panel has already interviewed around 300 people as it seeks to create a comprehensive record of the attack and the events leading up to it.

Trump at the time was pushing false claims of widespread voter fraud and lobbying Vice President Mike Pence and Republican members of Congress to try to overturn the count at the Jan. 6 congressional certification. Election officials across the country, along with the courts, had repeatedly dismissed Trump's claims.

An angry mob of Trump supporters were echoing his false claims as they brutally beat Capitol police and broke into the building that day, interrupting the certification of Biden's victory.

In his request for a meeting with Perry, Thompson wrote: "We would like to meet with you soon to discuss these topics, but we also want to accommodate your schedule."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Scott Perry, House January 6 Committee Interview
Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS) (C), chair of the select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack, speaks during a business meeting on Capitol Hill on Dec. 13, 2021 in Washington, DC. Thompson sent a letter to Pennsylvania Rep. Scott Perry Monday requesting documents and an interview, the first time the committee has requested to interview another sitting member of Congress. Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images