Pardons, Proud Boys, assault of a police officer: Pennsylvania’s ties to Jan. 6 committee findings

By: - June 10, 2022 11:36 am

U.S. Rep. Scott Perry makes opening remarks during a hearing on “critical canine contributions to the DHS mission’” in Washington, D.C., May 18, 2017. U.S. Customs and Border Protection Photo by Glenn Fawcett

More than a year-and-a-half after the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, the congressional committee tasked with investigating the riot held its first hearing to present findings on Thursday.

The U.S. House committee conducted more than 1,000 interviews — including with Pennsylvania officials — and reviewed tens of thousands of documents related to the attack and efforts to overturn the 2020 election. The televised hearing was the first in a series of hearings aimed at giving the American public a comprehensive look at the events leading up to the worst attack on the U.S. Capitol in more than 200 years.

The commonwealth has among the highest number of residents who have faced arrest for their actions in the deadly riot. Pennsylvania Republican lawmakers also objected to the 2020 Electoral College results.

Here’s a look at Pennsylvania’s ties to the attack and the select committee’s findings:

Scott Perry sought a presidential pardon

U.S. Rep. Scott Perry, who led the objections to Pennsylvania’s election results, contacted the Trump White House, seeking a presidential pardon after the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., revealed the information for the first time Thursday night and said the committee will examine these efforts during future hearings.

And Perry, R-10th District, was not the only Republican member of Congress to seek forgiveness from former President Donald Trump in the aftermath of the deadly attempt to stop Congress from certifying now-President Joe Biden’s victory, Cheney said.

Perry refused an interview request from the U.S. House committee in December and has dismissed the bipartisan panel as “illegitimate.” On Thursday, his office called Cheney’s claim “a ludicrous and soulless lie.”

In a letter sent to Perry late last year, U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., who chairs the House panel, said Perry played an “important role” in efforts to appoint Jeffrey Clark as acting attorney general.

Thompson also said the panel had evidence that Perry communicated about Clark with Trump’s former chief of staff Mark Meadows and the White House about unsubstantiated claims of corrupted Dominion voting machines.

Perry and other congressional Republicans met with the former president to plan how they could derail the final certification ahead of the violent attack.

The assault of an officer

Caroline Edwards, a police officer who was injured on Jan. 6, testified before the House panel on Thursday, detailing her assault at the Capitol.

The committee played video evidence in the case against her attacker, Ryan Samsel, of Bucks County. Samsel, accused of shoving a bike rack onto Edwards, who then fell and hit her head, was charged with unlawfully entering the U.S. Capitol building, assaulting an officer, and obstructing or impediment law enforcement.

Samuel Lazar, a Lancaster County resident, who was arrested and charged with assaulting a police officer and spraying officers with chemicals, could be seen in a video played by the committee.

Proud Boys

The committee also aired interviews and shared evidence collected from the Proud Boys, a far-right, neofascist group whose members are accused of planning to stop the peaceful transfer of power on Jan. 6. The panel mentioned the “Ministry of Self Defense,” a special chapter of the Proud Boys, and an encrypted chat room where members claimed credit for the Capitol attack. 

Zachary Rehl, president of the group’s Philadelphia chapter, was an “operations council” leader for the “Ministry of Self Defense.” Along with four other organization leaders, Rehl was indicted Monday on seditious conspiracy charges.

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