Senate report shows Perry, Mastriano personally leaned on Justice Department to further discredited election claims
A report released Thursday by the U.S. Senate panel investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol singled out two Midstate Republicans — U.S. Rep Scott Perry and state Sen. Doug Mastriano — as key playmakers in pushing for federal attorneys to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.
The report from the Democratic-majority Senate Judiciary Committee, commissioned despite Republican objections, points specifically to Perry and Mastriano as individuals whom President Donald Trump believed could help him invalidate the election, based on unfounded claims of corruption.
Both legislators went directly to U.S. Department of Justice officials with claims that would reinforce Trump’s strategy to stay in office, according to testimony and records collected in the report.
“These ties warrant further investigation to better place Trump’s efforts to enlist DOJ in his efforts to overturn the presidential election in context with the Jan. 6 insurrection,” the report recommended.
Much of the narrative around Perry and Mastriano centers on Richard Donoghue, the then-second-in command at the justice department next to acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen.
Perry said he obliged Trump’s request for an introduction to the former assistant attorney general, Jeffrey Clark, who Perry knew from unrelated legislative matters, and the three men went on to discuss their shared concerns about the election.
Earlier this year, Donoghue’s hand-written notes on a Dec. 27, 2020, call with Trump were released, in which Trump pressured the justice department to intercede in the election.
Donoghue wrote that Trump told him to “just say the election was corrupt + leave the rest to me and the R Congressmen,” and specifically cited Perry, Mastriano, and Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, Perry’s close ally in the House Freedom Caucus, as being willing to promote the argument, according to Donoghue’s notes.
The report released Thursday, which cited testimony and communications records from Donoghue, found that Perry and Mastriano both specifically followed up with Donoghue in an attempt to convince the Justice Department to endorse their unfounded voter fraud allegations.
These allegations, according to Donoghue’s notes, were centered on the claim that Pennsylvania’s vote total exceeded the number of voters who voted — a claim started by a group of state legislators based on a download of the incomplete state voter file, and which was debunked by The Sentinel hours after it surfaced.
Emails included in the Senate report show that Perry forwarded those materials from the state legislators to Donoghue. The report also includes Donoghue’s notes regarding a call with Perry, in which Donoghue wrote that Perry “thinks DOJ hasn’t done its job on election.”
On Dec. 29, 2020, Mastriano also sent a letter to Donoghue, included in the report, arguing that the election results in Pennsylvania “cannot be determined” due to a long list of what Mastriano alleged were anomalies in the results. Many of those claims had already been adjudicated and found to be lacking by state and federal judges; others appeared to be basic misunderstandings of how elections are conducted.
The letter included most of the same text as a letter sent to members of Congress by Mastriano and signed by roughly two dozen other Pennsylvania legislators, in which they asked for GOP leadership to dispute Pennsylvania’s election results.
State and federal lawmakers continue an attempt to dispute the Jan. 6 certification of the Electoral College vote, as the state’s top-ranking elected Republican advises against it.
“The vote to object was on January 6 so I hardly think that it’s appropriate to blame any of the objectors for the events that occurred essentially simultaneously with that objection,” Perry said.
The new report also confirms a previous report in the New York Times that Trump had sought to replace Rosen with Jeffrey Clark, a justice department attorney who was sympathetic to Trump’s efforts, and whom Perry had introduced to Trump. Donoghue’s notes on his call with Perry also state that Perry “likes Jeff Clark a lot.”
Clark subsequently proposed a plan whereby the Justice Department would send letters to state legislatures encouraging them to consider appointing new Electoral College delegates because of “irregularities” in their voting, according to records included in the report. Donoghue and Rosen declined to advance the proposal, with Donoghue writing that it would be “utterly without precedent” and “could have tremendous Constitutional, political, and social ramifications for the country,” according to emails included in the report.
The Senate report shows that Perry followed up further with Donoghue about Clark, saying he was “the kind of guy who could really get in there and do something about this,” referring to the election results.
Senate Republicans put out their own memo on the matter, defending Trump and arguing that his actions “had no impact on the Justice Department’s election activities,” but not addressing Perry or Mastriano. Perry has previously defended his actions following the New York Times report, saying that Trump asked him for an introduction to Clark.
In the early hours of Jan. 7, after rioters had been cleared from the Capitol, Perry led Republicans in formally objecting to Pennsylvania’s Electoral College tally.
Corman said Mastriano issued letters to Pa. counties without getting approval from the Republican caucus and “scared off” the counties.
Mastriano was also at the Capitol during that time, having chartered a bus, according to his campaign finance records, to the pro-Trump protest that eventually devolved into a siege of Congress. Mastriano said he left when things turned violent, although videos uncovered online show him walking across the Capitol lawn after police barriers had already been broken down.
In a statement on Friday, Mastriano decried the findings as “hyper partisan,” and reiterated that he “followed the directions of Capitol Police” on Jan. 6.
“The repetitive allegations in this ‘report’ are part of an ongoing, desperate attempt to distract from what progressive policies are doing to our country,” Mastriano said.
Perry is also a person of interest in the Jan. 6 inquiry in the House of Representatives, being one of several legislators whose phone records and online activity House investigators asked telecommunications providers to preserve as part of the investigation. Perry and several others subsequently sent letters to those providers objecting to the records request and writing that “we will pursue all legal remedies” against the telecom companies if they comply with the House inquiry.
As of press time, Perry had not responded to a request for comment on the report.
Perry’s 10th Congressional District covers eastern Cumberland County, including Carlisle, as well as northern York County and Dauphin County. Mastriano’s state Senate district primarily covers Franklin and Adams counties with a small portion of Cumberland County near Shippensburg.
Thursday’s report is an interim document, Senate staff wrote. The committee is waiting on additional records from the Trump White House to be processed by the National Archives and Records Administration.
Friends, this isn’t the time to be complacent. If you are ready to fight for the soul of this nation, you can start by donating to elect Joe Biden and Kamala Harris by clicking the button below.
Thank you so much for supporting Joe Biden’s Presidential campaign.