Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.) has announced he will not cooperate with the “illegitimate” House January 6 committee after he was asked to answer questions about the “Stop the Steal” rally that took place at the Capitol.
Perry is the first member of Congress to be pursued by the Jan. 6 committee, but the committee has sent out dozens of subpoenas to President Donald Trump’s former White House staff.
Over the course of its months-long investigation, the committee has yet to turn up any significant evidence to back up allegations that the Jan. 6 rally was the result of a premeditated plan to overturn the U.S. government, forcing the mostly-Democrat panel to expand their search.
Perry has now announced that he does not intend to accept the committee’s requests.
“I stand with immense respect for our Constitution, the Rule of Law, and the Americans I represent who know that this entity is illegitimate, and not duly constituted under the rules of the US House of Representatives,” Perry said in a Twitter thread.
“I decline this entity’s request and will continue to fight the failures of the radical Left who desperately seek distraction from their abject failures of crushing inflation, a humiliating surrender in Afghanistan, and the horrendous crisis they created at our border,” he continued.
The January 6 commission, like many other policies and programs inaugurated under the Democratic Congress, was passed on an almost exclusively party-line basis: All but two Republicans—Reps. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) and Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.)—voted against forming the commission.
The committee is led almost exclusively by Democrats, and Kinzinger and Cheney are the only Republicans sitting on the panel after House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) advised his caucus against participating in the committee.
According to the Jan. 6 commission, the entrance of protesters into the Capitol building on Jan. 6 constituted an “insurrection” against the U.S. government. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), an enthusiastic supporter of the committee, has tried to bolster this view by saying on Twitter that the Jan. 6 rally left “138 injured, almost 10 dead.”
No lawmakers were hurt and there was only one death caused by homicide that day: that of Ashli Babbitt, who was unarmed and was shot under mysterious circumstances. This sole death has gone mostly un-investigated by the committee.
Since Jan. 6, President Joe Biden’s Department of Justice has filed no insurrection- or sedition-related charges against protesters who were on Capitol Hill that day, according to Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.).
Still, those who took part in the Jan. 6 rally have faced shocking treatment in the Washington jail, according to Greene, who alleges that these defendants have been denied bail, the right to shave or cut their hair, have been called “white supremacists,” and have been barred from seeing their families, among many other serious “human rights violations.”
Moreover, the Jan. 6 commission, despite having awarded itself the power to gather phone and text records of Trump officials without a warrant, has yet to establish or confirm that any of these officials participated in or had any prior knowledge of what happened that day.
Earlier subpoenas from the committee, including a subpoena of former Trump advisor Steve Bannon and former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, have also been refused.
After Bannon ignored a subpoena from the Jan. 6 committee citing his right to executive privilege, the Jan. 6 commission responded with a contempt of Congress charge against the podcast host. The House later certified the charge and the Department of Justice, breaking decades of precedent, announced its intention to pursue a criminal investigation against Bannon.
A federal judge in charge of the case later issued an order barring either side from revealing documents publicly. Bannon’s legal team has since challenged the move.
Mark Meadows, Trump’s former White House Chief of Staff, has also refused the commission’s subpoena, following President Donald Trump’s advice to reject the subpoena on grounds of executive privilege.
Like Bannon, Meadows faced a contempt of Congress charge that made its way through the House and was certified on Dec. 15. Meadows’ lawyer has promised continued resistance against the demands of the Jan. 6 committee, potentially setting the stage for a Supreme Court battle due to the lack of litigation on the right of a president to executive privilege over legislative subpoenas.
At one point during hearings over Meadows, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) presented doctored text messages between Meadows and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio). These doctored images contained a quote never said by Meadows and cut out critical context, a fact which the Jan. 6 committee was eventually forced to confirm.
The committee’s recent decision to branch out and turn its arsenal of self-granted power on members of Congress, nevertheless, represents a significant change from the status quo.
Perry, as a sitting member of Congress, is immune from charges for contempt of Congress, sparing him from the same fate as Bannon and Meadows. But Perry could still be censured by Congress, potentially stripping him of his committee assignments.
In an extremely controversial move, House Democrats took advantage of their slim-majority in mid-November to censure Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) over a since-removed cartoonish gag on Twitter that depicted the Arizona Republican as a heroic figure slaying monstrous beasts with the faces of prominent Democrats.
Gosar defended the video as “symbolic” of the battle between Trump-style conservatives and progressive Democrats, but ultimately Gosar had his committee assignments stripped by a party-line vote.
Democrats could attempt to pull the same stunt against Perry, but the Jan. 6 committee has thus far given no response to Perry’s refusal.
Perry and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) did not immediately reply to a request for comment on what, if anything, they plan to do in response to a potential subpoena.