U.S. Rep. Scott Perry, a Republican from the Harrisburg area, acknowledged Monday that he introduced former President Donald Trump to a Department of Justice attorney sympathetic to the president’s false election claims, who later joined Trump in a plot to pressure Georgia officials to overturn the results in that state.
Perry issued a statement confirming his role in linking a Philadelphia-born attorney, Jeffrey Clark, to Trump, in a move reported by the New York Times over the weekend.
“Throughout the past four years, I worked with Assistant Attorney General Clark on various legislative matters. When President Trump asked if I would make an introduction, I obliged,” Perry said in a statement first reported by the Harrisburg public radio station WITF. “My conversations with the President or the Assistant Attorney General, as they have been with all with whom I’ve engaged following the election, were a reiteration of the many concerns about the integrity of our elections, and that those allegations should at least be investigated to ease the minds of the voters that they had, indeed, participated in a free and fair election.”
Clark and Trump, according to the Times, hatched a plan to have Clark installed as attorney general, so he could use the nation’s top law enforcement office to pressure Georgia officials to reverse the election results, which were recounted twice and each time affirmed that President Joe Biden had won the state.
When other top officials at the Department of Justice heard about the plot, they threatened to resign en masse, heading off the effort, according to the Times.
Clark has told the Times that its portrayal is inaccurate, but has declined to specify how. He didn’t respond to a message seeking comment Monday. The Justice Department’s inspector general said Monday that it would investigate whether “any former or current D.O.J. official engaged in an improper attempt to have D.O.J. seek to alter the outcome of the 2020 presidential election.”
Perry, a member of the hard-right Freedom Caucus which spent months amplifying Trump’s false claims of a stolen election, was one of the House leaders in the GOP push to block Pennsylvania’s Electoral College votes from being counted. He later claimed the state’s procedures were unconstitutional and that as a result, all of the state’s nearly 7 million votes should be thrown out. Numerous courts have rejected such arguments.
Perry’s push included taking to the House floor hours after the Jan. 6 attack at the Capitol, itself fueled by a false belief in voter fraud, to proclaim that Pennsylvania’s election was unconstitutional. In a speech, Perry decried ”lawlessness” by Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar, though courts have shot down challenges to her actions.
It’s not clear how much Perry knew about the plan between Trump and Clark to try to change the Georgia results. But Pennsylvania Democrats have demanded “accountability,” without specifying what that would entail.
Perry’s office declined an interview request Monday.
“Rep. Perry’s attempt to compromise our justice system is a disgrace. For months, he’s spread lies and placed his political ambitions above the will of voters and the democracy he swore to protect,” Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, tweeted Monday. “Pennsylvanians deserve better from their leaders. He must be held accountable.”
And U.S. Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon, a Delaware County Democrat, said Perry’s “efforts to politicize the DOJ were a disgraceful continuation of efforts to undermine our elections and perpetuate the lies which fueled the mob attack on our Capitol.”
“His support for overturning the 2020 election should disqualify him from serving in public office” she said on Twitter.
Clark, who lived in Tacony, is a 1985 graduate of Father Judge High School, where he was a member of the National Honor Society, active in several clubs, and worked on the school newspaper and yearbook, according to the school’s 1985 yearbook.
He received an undergraduate degree in 1989 from Harvard University, a master’s in urban affairs and public policy in 1992 from the University of Delaware and a law degree in 1995 from Georgetown University, according to his LinkedIn page. His political and professional career has been centered in Washington, including a combined 18 years as an associate and then partner at the law firm Kirkland & Ellis, interrupted for four years by his first service in the Department of Justice as a deputy assistant attorney general from 2001 to 2005.