Who the Jan. 6 House committee wants to hear from in Pa. and why

Some state lawmakers and former election officials have attracted the attention of the U.S. House committee, prompting the Democrat-controlled panel to request interviews — and in some cases, subpoena their testimony

By: - February 16, 2022 2:23 pm

Thousands of President Donald Trump’s supporters storm the U.S. Capitol building following a “Stop the Steal” rally on Jan. 6, 2021 in Washington, D.C. The protesters stormed the historic building, breaking windows and clashing with police. Trump supporters had gathered in the nation’s capital to protest the ratification of President-elect Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory over Trump in the 2020 election. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

In the six months since the U.S House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol convened, the Democrat-controlled panel has issued sweeping requests to hear from former Trump administration officials and supporters who worked to reverse the 2020 election results.

With more than 50 Pennsylvania residents charged for actions related to the Capitol riot, the commonwealth is among the states with the most arrests tied to Jan. 6.

But Pennsylvania’s involvement in efforts to derail Electoral College certification was not limited to the individuals — obstructing the peaceful transfer of power — who smashed windows and brutalized police during the deadly attack.

Before the former president’s “Save America” rally that ended with the eruption at the U.S. Capitol, Republicans furthered unsubstantiated election fraud claims and weighed possible avenues to challenge the results, including asking Congress to delay Electoral College certification and object to the commonwealth’s electoral votes.

GOP lawmakers accused Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf, the Department of State, and the state Supreme Court of overstepping their authority and undermining the lawful acceptance of the results.

Some Pennsylvania Republicans and former election officials have attracted the attention of the Jan. 6 House committee, prompting the Democrat-controlled panel to request interviews — and in some cases, subpoena their testimony.

Former Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar, a Democrat who resigned after the Department of State failed to advertise language for a proposed constitutional amendment, and House Speaker Bryan Cutler, R-Lancaster, have communicated with the U.S. House committee. A spokesperson for Cutler told the York Daily Record that the lawmaker is “barred from discussing any details of that contact while the select committee’s proceedings are still in progress.”

Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar on October 27, 2020 | Source: Commonwealth Media Services

U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Mississippi, who chairs the Jan. 6 committee, has said the panel and its investigative efforts into the Capitol attack aim “to find the facts and to prevent such an assault from ever again occurring.”

Here is who the U.S. House committee wants to hear from in Pennsylvania and why:

At the federal level

The panel asked U.S. Rep. Scott Perry, R-10th District, to voluntarily comply with an interview request in December, citing communications with White House officials and administration members related to the 2020 election and making allegations that voting machines were corrupt. 

The Jan. 6 committee cited evidence from multiple witnesses, including then-acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen and then-acting Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue, that Perry played “an important role” in attempts to appoint Jeffrey Clark as acting attorney general.

House Homeland Security Oversight and Management Efficiency Subcommittee Chairman 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

Committee members also said they had evidence that he communicated with Mark Meadows, Trump’s former chief of staff, about Clark, as well as with the White House about unsubstantiated claims of corrupted Dominion voting machines.

Clark, a former Trump Justice Department official who propagated unsubstantiated election fraud claims, said he would invoke his 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination if deposed by the panel.

Perry’s name appeared more than 50 times in a Senate Judiciary report released in October outlining how Trump pressured the Justice Department to reverse the 2020 election results.

Perry, who has spread false election fraud claims, declined the Jan. 6 committee’s interview request, alleging that the panel is “illegitimate” and a distraction tactic.

‘Alternate’ electors

Last month, Bill Bachenberg and Lisa Patton received a subpoena from the U.S. House committee.

The Pennsylvania residents respectively served as the chair and secretary to a December 2020 meeting organized by Republicans to submit alternate — and false — electoral delegates.

Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, New Mexico, Nevada, and Wisconsin saw similar attempts. 

But in Pennsylvania, the so-called delegates hedged the certificate language to say they would vote for Trump if legal challenges to the election succeeded in court.

A Pennsylvania Senator

Sen. Doug Mastriano, R-Franklin, a Trump ally who spread false information leading up to the 2020 election and in the months after, received a subpoena from the Jan. 6 committee Tuesday.

He has not publicly acknowledged the legal summons and did not respond to a request for comment.

Sen. Doug Mastriano, R-Franklin, speaks during an event in Gettysburg to formally announce a run for governor on Jan. 8, 2022. (Screenshot)

In a statement, the U.S. House committee said Mastriano was “part of a plan to arrange for an alternate slate of electors” and reportedly spoke with Trump about “post-election activities.” The panel cited a Nov. 28, 2020, tweet from Mastriano, who said he was advocating for the Republican-controlled Pennsylvania Legislature to appoint Electoral College delegates.

Mastriano, a Trump ally and Pennsylvania GOP gubernatorial candidate, attended the “Save America” rally, hosted by the former president on Jan. 6. Though he has denied breaking any laws, and there is no evidence that he entered the Capitol, the state senator appears to have been closer to the violence than he initially claimed, according to video footage.

Leading up to the 2020 election and in the year since Biden took office, Mastriano has continued to amplify baseless claims of voter fraud. He passed off the wrong information about mail-in ballot totals and hosted a November 2020 hearing in Gettysburg where Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani and other supporters parroted unsubstantiated claims of fraud before a panel of Republican lawmakers. 

He later traveled to the White House for a private event related to reversing the 2020 election results but left after testing positive for COVID-19.

State Sen. Doug Mastriano, R-Franklin (R) and former state Rep. Rick Saccone at the U.S. Capitol on 1/6/21 (Facebook photo)

In June, Mastriano launched a so-called “forensic investigation” of the 2020 election and made a sweeping request for election equipment and voter information in Philadelphia, York, and Tioga counties.

Mastriano toured the GOP-backed election review in Arizona last summer. He was joined by House Judiciary Committee Chair Rob Kauffman, R-Franklin, and Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee Chair Cris Dush, R-Jefferson, who is now leading the taxpayer-funded election investigation.

Since then, Mastriano, still a member of the Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee, was stripped of his committee chair assignment. And he has stayed quiet about the review and its progress. 

He has also refused to speak to his involvement with an election review in Fulton County, carried out by a private firm with ties to Sidney Powell, a pro-Trump lawyer who helped file lawsuits to challenge the 2020 election.

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.