Scott Perry was elected to a far right south Pennsylvania congressional district in 2012, PA-04, which had a nice safe red PVI (R+9). After the state Supreme Court threw out the state's extreme gerrymander boundaries, his district became PA-10 (less of rural York County and more of blue-leaning Dauphin County), which has a PVI of R+5. Perry, a neo-fascist extremist fit the 4th district just fine, less so the 10th, where Trump won only 50.7% of the vote, the lowest of any red district in the state. Perry, who had won with 60% in 2012, 75% in 2014 and 66% in 2016, only managed 51% in 2018, when the new boundaries kicked in, and last year-- up against a conservative Blue Dog, Eugene DePasquale, who many progressives refused to vote for-- managed 53%.
But now Perry may be in trouble he probably wasn't counting on, although much will depend on the contours of the new district lines that has to be agreed on by the Republican state legislature and the Democratic governor. The trouble though isn't about boundaries per se; it's about his role in trying to help Trump steal the 2020 election, which makes him more vulnerable and has DePasquale plotting a re-match.
The Senate report released this morning makes it clear that Perry conspired with Trump to pressure Richard Donoghue, the second in command at the DOJ. Perry lied to Donoghue about ballot-counting in Pennsylvania and admitted Trump told him to call.
The report indicates that the House Freedom Caucus, a group of hardline conservatives with close ties to Trump, took an active role in helping the president strategize about ways to undercut Joe Biden’s victory. But the report indicates that Perry, more than other House Republicans, took a direct role in attempting to help Trump install loyalists in the Justice Department who would assist in undermining the legitimacy of Joe Biden's victory.
...Senate Judiciary Democrats recommend that the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack home in on Perry, as well as two other key figures: Pennsylvania State Sen. Doug Mastriano and Trump campaign attorney Cleta Mitchell.
“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 January 6 insurrection,” the Judiciary report concludes. “Because the events of January 6 are outside the immediate purview of the Committee’s investigation, this report is being made available to the House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack, as well as the public, to assist their investigation.”
The Jan. 6 select panel has indicated it is interested in pursuing testimony and evidence that Republican lawmakers might have about Trump's role in stoking the attack on the Capitol. But it's rare for lawmakers to turn their investigative powers on their own colleagues and is likely to create significant hurdles for investigators as they enter this uncharted terrain.
This morning the NY Times reported that even by the standards of the most vile and corrupt president in history, it was an extraordinary Oval Office showdown. On the agenda was Señor Trumpanzee's "desire to install a loyalist as acting attorney general to carry out his demands for more aggressive investigations into his unfounded claims of election fraud. On the other side during that meeting on the evening of Jan. 3 were the top leaders of the Justice Department, who warned Trump that they and other senior officials would resign en masse if he followed through. They received immediate support from another key participant: Pat Cipollone, the White House counsel. According to others at the meeting, Cipollone indicated that he and his top deputy, Patrick Philbin, would also step down if Trump acted on his plan. Trump’s proposed plan, Cipollone argued, would be a 'murder-suicide pact,' one participant recalled. Only near the end of the nearly three-hour meeting did Trump relent and agree to drop his threat."
The interim report, released publicly on Thursday, describes how Justice Department officials scrambled to stave off a series of events during a period when Trump was getting advice about blocking certification of the election from a lawyer he had first seen on television and the president’s actions were so unsettling that his top general and the House speaker discussed the nuclear chain of command.
“This report shows the American people just how close we came to a constitutional crisis,” Richard Durbin, Democrat of Illinois and chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said in a statement. “Thanks to a number of upstanding Americans in the Department of Justice, Donald Trump was unable to bend the department to his will. But it was not due to a lack of effort.”
Durbin said that he believes the former president, who remains a front-runner for the Republican nomination in 2024, would have “shredded the Constitution to stay in power.”
Sounds like a pretty big deal, right? Paul Waldman's headline reads As A Stunning New Report Reveals Trump's Threat To Democracy, Republicans Shrug. Except for the handful who voted to impeach him, they're all complicit. It was a coup attempt and the GOP is still trying to cover it up. Waldman wrote that "what we learn from the new report is this: Trump did successfully install some people within the government willing to betray their country and everything it is built on, but ultimately failed because he didn’t have enough of them and ran out of time. It is not an encouraging conclusion to reach, particularly if you consider that Trump could well run for president again in 2024, and could even win.
[M]ost shocking is the story of Jeffrey Clark, the acting head of the department’s civil division. Despite having no authority over election law, he held meetings and conversations with the president about the election behind the back of Acting attorney general Jeffrey Rosen at the end of December and the beginning of January.
Things intensified when Clark presented Rosen and his deputy, Richard Donoghue, with a letter that he wanted them to sign, urging state legislatures to hold special sessions for the purpose of replacing legally appointed slates of electors with new slates, with the clear implication that Trump would then be declared the winner.
When Rosen was appalled and disgusted by Clark’s letter, Clark’s response was basically extortion. He told Rosen that Trump had suggested to him that Trump could fire Rosen and install Clark in his place. Clark said that if Rosen signed the letter, he would turn down Trump’s offer and Rosen could keep his job.
It all came to a head at an extraordinary White House meeting on Jan. 3, with all the major players in attendance. “One thing we know is you, Rosen, aren’t going to do anything to overturn the election,” Trump said, according to Rosen’s testimony. The question being discussed was whether Trump would fire Rosen and replace him with Clark, who would then begin pressuring state legislatures to overturn their election results.
That's where the threats to resign came in. "So how," asked Waldman, "do you defend Trump in the face of that? The Senate Judiciary Committee’s Republican minority under the direction of Chuck Grassley (R-IA) released a response so laughably indulgent of Trump’s actions that it amounts to, 'Mr. Dillinger was merely trying to make a withdrawal from the bank, what is everyone getting so worked up about?' The Republican response portrays Trump as little more than a concerned citizen hoping to clear up any questions about the election. Trump, they write, 'expressed concern with ensuring that DOJ was doing its job of fully investigating allegations of election fraud so that the American people would have confidence in the results of the 2020 election.' Why, he merely wanted to make sure Americans felt good about the election! How could anyone think otherwise?"
All the reporting and investigations of Trump’s coup attempt make clear that the effort to overturn the election was haphazard, ad hoc and at times deeply stupid, yet at the same time utterly terrifying. It’s a good lesson: The people who do the most damage to our country and democracy aren’t necessarily brilliant supervillains.
Sometimes calamity occurs because a bunch of scoundrels and fools were presented with an opportunity to do their worst. And in this case, those scoundrels and fools were stopped only because some other people managed to find an ounce or two of courage.
They are not heroes. They went to work for Trump knowing full well who he was. But at that moment, they were unwilling to cooperate in a coup, and their resistance deprived it of a key element it needed.
The Judiciary Committee recommends strengthening rules that govern the relationship between the White House and Justice Department to make another attempted coup less likely in the future. But it’s clear that to the Trump administration-- and perhaps to future administrations-- the rules didn’t matter. All that leaves us with is the person of the president, and the people he appoints.
Which makes you wonder what will protect us if Trump, or someone like him, becomes president again.