Campaigns & Elections

A timeline of Scott Perry’s texts following the 2020 election

Perry’s texts with former President Donald Trump’s White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows outline baseless conspiracy theories and a plot to investigate the 2020 election results

Rep. Scott Perry speaks as U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken testifies before the House Committee On Foreign Affairs March 10, 2021 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.

Rep. Scott Perry speaks as U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken testifies before the House Committee On Foreign Affairs March 10, 2021 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Ting Shen-Pool/Getty Images

We’ve all had text messages come back to haunt us – just ask U.S. Rep. Scott Perry. 

Perry, who has been investigated by the Jan. 6 select committee for his role in attempting to overturn the 2020 presidential election, has been a focal point of the news this week as text messages between him and former President Donald Trump’s White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows outlined a plot to investigate and overturn the 2020 presidential election. 

The website Talking Points Memo obtained text messages that Meadows turned over to the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, which includes those shared between Perry and Meadows following the 2020 election and through the Jan. 6 Capitol riots. These messages, alongside previously reported messages by CNN, paint a clearer picture of the baseless conspiracy theories Trump’s allies pushed and how they attempted to illegally reverse Trump’s loss. A spokesperson for Perry, who represents the 10th congressional district in the Harrisburg and York region, didn’t respond to a request for comment. 

Perry and Meadows exchanged at least 62 messages between the Nov. 3 election and President Joe Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20, 2021. Here is a timeline of texts from the central Pennsylvania congressman. 

Note: sic throughout

Nov. 8, 2020

The day after President Joe Biden was projected as the winner of the 2020 presidential election, Perry texted Meadows, urging him to speak with attorney Sidney Powell, whose first name he misspells. Powell, an ally of Trump, was among several conservative lawyers who sued to overturn Biden’s victory in Michigan. 

“Mark, please do not delay in speaking with him or Sydney Powell,” Perry wrote. 

Nov. 9, 2020

The next day, Perry shared a message from Cleta Mitchell, another conservative attorney who worked on the Trump campaign’s failed legal attempts to challenge the election results in multiple states. Perry said Mitchell was eager to set up a 501(c)(4) nonprofit to support her efforts. 

“Cleta asked if she should set up a C4 to deal with raising money and paying for the cyber portion. She offered to do it if necessary,” Perry wrote. 

Nov. 10, 2020

The “cyber portion” of their election efforts was underway by Nov. 10, when Perry told Meadows he was working with individuals in the swing states of Michigan, Wisconsin and Arizona. 

Perry passed along instructions from the “cyber forensic team” to Meadows, which included calls to preserve specific voting machines, all communications with officials responsible for software updates to the voting machines and all the logs and devices used to execute the duties and updates of voting machines. These instructions came with a link to a conspiracy theory about the vote count in Pennsylvania posted by the Epoch Times, a far-right newspaper. 

Perry then asked Meadows for a point of contact in Wisconsin and Arizona. Meadows responded to Perry with the name “Cip Roy,” a misspelling of U.S. Rep. Chip Roy from Texas. 

“Roger, thank you. I will contact him now,” Perry replied. 

Nov. 11, 2020

Perry wrote to Meadows that “things are more clear now” after speaking with the point person for the cyber effort. 

“I’m going to keep working on it but if I sense my involvement is impending, I will bail out,” Perry wrote. 

Nov. 12, 2020

One of several text exchanges from Nov. 12 shows Perry sharing various conspiracy theories about voting systems in the country. In the morning, Perry sent several messages to Meadows and U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio outlining a strategy to challenge the vote in Pennsylvania, which he was forwarded from a state legislator. 

“People think Dominion software was hacked,” Perry wrote.  

Meadows even expressed skepticism about some of the conspiracies related to Dominion. The voting machine company ultimately filed a series of defamation lawsuits against Trump allies who have pushed these theories publicly.  

Perry then urged Meadows to get the then-Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe to order the National Security Agency to investigate the debunked claims that Dominion voting machines were compromised by international parties. 

“From an Intel friend: DNI needs to task NSA to immediately seize and begin looking for international comms related to Dominion,” Perry wrote. 

Perry also wrote to Meadows on Nov. 12 claiming that “the Brits” – referring to the British government – orchestrated a conspiracy to manipulate voting machines and that then-CIA Director Gina Haspel was helping cover it up.

“And Gina is still running around on the Hill covering for the Brits who helped quarterback this entire operation,” Perry texted. “DNI needs to be tasked to audit their overseas accounts at CIA - and their National Endowment for Democracy.”

Later in the afternoon, Meadows asked Perry if one of his contacts would be “willing to sign an affidavit,” presumably detailing claims about the election. Perry offered to help and shared another series of conspiracy theories about the vote in Pennsylvania. 

“Believe me, I’m going to do everything I can including putting you on the phone with her,” Perry wrote. “Also, apparently, our dept of state shut down all its systems on Oct 2/3 and lost all its data requiring them to replace all their hard drives. Don’t know yet if it matters but the state legislature auditors are holding that for their subpoenas next week.”

Nov. 19, 2020

One week later, on Nov. 19, Perry told Meadows he was working with “Rudy’s folks in Philly,” a reference to the legal effort being run by Trump’s personal attorney, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. 

“Talking with Rudy’s folks in Philly, they want the PA legislative leaders invited ASAP for Sunday or Monday. They are in all day tomorrow passing the budget so that’s out. Let me know if you want to discuss it,” Perry wrote. 

Nov. 20, 2020

Meadows responded the next day stating, “As long as you are coordinating. That is fine.” 

Perry replied, adding that “The call will have to come from The White House.”

Nov. 21, 2020

The following day, Meadows went to Perry asking to get in touch with local lawmakers in his state.

“Can you send me the number for the speaker and the leader of PA Legislature. POTUS wants to chat with them,” Meadows wrote to Perry. “Yes sir,” Perry replied. 

Perry asked Meadows another question that went without a reply, this time asking if then-U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania Bill McSwain, a Trump appointee, would investigate the state’s election.

“What will it take for Bill Mcswain to open an investigation?” Perry asked. 

Dec. 24, 2020

On Christmas Eve 2020, Perry tried to connect with Meadows.

“Mark, let me know if we can talk some strategy. Just a few minutes,” he wrote.

There was no reply in the logs.

Dec. 26, 2020

The day after Christmas, Perry texted Meadows stressing a need for urgency as Jan. 6 and Biden’s inauguration were quickly approaching.

“Mark, just checking in as time continues to count down. 11 days to 1/6 and 25 days to inauguration. We gotta get going!” he wrote. 

Just over a half-hour later, Perry told Meadows to install Jeffrey Clark, the assistant attorney general for the Department of Justice’s natural resources section, as acting attorney general.

“Mark, you should call Jeff. I just got off the phone with him and he explained to me why the principal deputy won’t work especially with the FBI. They will view it as as not having the authority to enforce what needs to be done,” Perry wrote. 

“I got it. I think I understand. Let me work on the deputy position,” Meadows replied. 

Dec. 27 and 28, 2020 

Over the next two days, Perry texted Meadows twice, the first time asking Meadows for a return call and the second time asking if he had called Clark. 

“Can you call me when you get a chance? I just want to talk to you for a few moments before I return the presidents call as requested.” Perry wrote on Dec. 27. 

“Did you call Jeff Clark?” Perry asked Meadows on Dec. 28. 

Dec. 30, 2020

A few days later on Dec. 30, Perry texted Meadows that “US 18-95” had been poorly explained at a meeting the previous day – an apparent reference to the U.S. statute related to acts in the United States by an agent of a foreign government. 

“Mark, need to re-visit US 18-951. It was not explained well yesterday. I think can add important context,” Perry wrote

Dec. 31, 2020

The next day, Perry texted Meadows a YouTube link that details another conspiracy theory claiming votes were changed by Italian satellites.

“Why can’t we just work with the Italian government?” Perry wrote. 

According to Talking Points Memo, Meadows does not appear to have responded to that message, but emails released by the Senate Judiciary Committee last year show he did forward the same video link to then-acting U.S. Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen hours later.

Jan. 2, 2021

Perry discussed debate rules for the House floor and asked if Trump has been in contact with the Italian government. Perry suggested Trump should reach out to former Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, whose name was misspelled in Perry’s text.

“Also,has POTUS been able to have a conversation with Conti? Can he move the ball today?” Perry asked.

“Please call me the instant you get off the phone with Jeff,” Perry wrote later in the evening of Jan. 2. 

Department of Justice officials reportedly persuaded Trump to drop the idea of making Clark attorney general that day. 

Jan. 7, 2021

The last message to Meadows, the day after the Jan. 6 Capitol riots, asked for the two to connect.

“Mark, please call when you can,” Perry wrote.

Based on texts shared with the House select committee, Meadows exchanged messages with at least 34 Republican members of Congress in the weeks following the 2020 election. In addition to Perry, two fellow members of the state’s congressional delegation, Fred Keller and Mike Kelly, were among those included in the messages.

The FBI confiscated Perry’s phone in August as part of an investigation into the effort to have fake electors overturn the presidential election. Perry has declined to voluntarily cooperate with the select committee, calling it illegitimate. 

"That this illegitimate body leaked their latest charade to the media ahead of contacting targeted Members is proof positive once again that this political witch hunt is about fabricating headlines and distracting Americans from their abysmal record of running America into the ground,” Perry said in May following the committee’s subpoena requests. 

What’s next?

The future of the House select committee investigating Jan. 6 is up in the air. The committee’s investigation is ongoing, however, it was set to dissolve in the next Congress in January. With Republicans regaining the majority in the House of Representatives, it’s unlikely that the chamber will seek any further investigations on the topic.

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