Perry, Mastriano had key roles in Trump effort to overturn 2020 election, report says
Two lawmakers from Pennsylvania played key roles in helping former President Donald Trump try to overturn the results of the 2020 election he lost, according to a U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee report released Thursday.
The committee recommended U.S. Rep. Scott Perry, R-York County, and state Sen. Doug Mastriano, R-Franklin County, should be further investigated for their potential ties to the Jan. 6 insurrection.
In the 394-page report, "Subverting Justice," the committee described how both Perry and Mastriano pushed false and debunked election fraud claims to pressure top attorneys in the U.S. Department of Justice.
Both lawmakers contacted acting Attorney General Richard Donoghue, who was second in command at the Department of Justice, to implore him to investigate the election in their home state of Pennsylvania.
Mastriano and Perry pushed a false claim that originated in the Pennsylvania House when state Rep. Frank Ryan, R-Lebanon, in December said there were 205,000 more votes than voters in the 2020 presidential election in Pennsylvania.
Ryan's assessment was based on incomplete data, according to the Department of State. He had taken incomplete counts from a statewide election database where numbers from Philadelphia, Allegheny, Butler and Cambria counties hadn't been uploaded yet.
That fraud claim has been categorically rejected by at least 60 courts, which said the Trump campaign failed to produce evidence of widespread fraud.
Perry, Mastriano and Trump continued to push it. During his Jan. 6 speech before the insurrection, Trump repeated the false claim that there were 205,000 more votes than voters in Pennsylvania.
"Where did they come from?" Trump said to his supporters Jan. 6 before they stormed the U.S. Capitol in a violent mob attack. "You know where they came from? Somebody’s imagination."
'The system is rigged':How Trump and the Pa. GOP convinced voters election fraud was real
Pa. lawmakers mentioned in election report
His supporters believed the false claims of fraud that Trump, Perry, Mastriano and other state lawmakers had been supporting.
“These ties warrant further investigation to better place Trump’s efforts to enlist (the Department of Justice) in his efforts to overturn the presidential election in context with the January 6 insurrection," the U.S. Senate Judiciary report said.
Perry and Mastriano did not answer questions on Thursday from the USA TODAY Pennsylvania Capital Bureau. Perry and Mastriano have not granted an interview with the bureau since Jan. 6, but they have appeared on conservative news networks.
Ryan said he stands by his previous assessment that there were "significant irregularities and inconsistencies in the 2020 election."
The report mentions how Mastriano used campaign cash to send busloads of people from central Pennsylvania to Trump's "Stop the Steal" rally that preceded the insurrection.
Sen. Doug Mastriano:What we know about his fight with fellow Republicans
Mastriano also led a state Senate hearing in Gettysburg with Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani, who made unsubstantiated claims and presented witnesses who did not give sworn testimony.
Perry stood up in the ransacked U.S. House chamber early Jan. 7, hours after that violent and deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol, to object to Pennsylvania's Electoral College votes in an attempt to decertify his state's election, which President Joe Biden won by 80,000 votes.
The report also details Perry's role in trying to change leadership at the Department of Justice as part of Trump's goal to overturn election results in Georgia.
In an Oval Office meeting, Perry introduced Trump to Jeffrey Clark, a Philadelphia native and Department of Justice deputy who had urged top U.S. attorneys to pressure swing states into changing their electors to pro-Trump voters, according to the report.
"Perry added something to the effect of, 'I think Jeff Clark is great. I like that guy a lot. He’s the kind of guy who could really get in there and do something about this,'" the report said.
Steps by Trump, Pa. allies to try to reverse election results
Trump considered making Clark acting attorney general, but he ultimately backed off when top officials threatened to resign.
A New York Times report in January first publicly revealed the connection between Perry, Clark and Trump.
In a response to USA TODAY Pennsylvania Capital Bureau at the time, Perry said:
“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.
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."
Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, called on the Washington, D.C., bar to take action against Clark for conduct "inconsistent with his oath as an attorney to serve the cause of justice."
Durbin led the report as committee chairman of the majority party.
“We were half a step away from a full blown Constitutional crisis," Durbin said in a press conference Thursday.
"I shudder to think of what this man will do if given another four years," he said of Trump.
Meanwhile, state Senate Republicans are in the midst of an investigation into the 2020 election that Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman, R-Centre, said is designed to give voters confidence in the Pennsylvania election system. It's not an attempt to change the results.
During the process, Corman has sidelined Mastriano, banned him from GOP strategy sessions and removed his Harrisburg staff — actions that are seen as punitive in the state Capitol halls.
Mastriano has accused Corman of "stonewalling" the election investigation, which Mastriano thinks should be a full forensic "audit" like the one he visited in Arizona.
Recent Arizona results reinforced Biden's win, and the review actually found additional votes for Biden and fewer for Trump in the state's largest county
U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Scranton, on Thursday stressed that the state's elections can be trusted.
"Pennsylvania’s 2020 elections were the most secure in our history, despite the former president’s attempts to suggest otherwise," Casey said in a statement.
Candy Woodall is a reporter for the USA TODAY Network Pennsylvania Capital Bureau. She can be reached at 717-480-1783 or on Twitter at @candynotcandace.