A new report detailing text messages between Pennsylvania Republican US Rep. Scott Perry and former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows shows the Dauphin County congressman was spreading wild conspiracy theories in an effort to amplify Donald Trump’s “big lie” about the 2020 Election.
Conspiracy theories are nothing new. For example, people have claimed for generations that there are alligators in the sewers. Others say the moon landing was fake. My grandmother once told me she thought Elvis might still be alive. Republican Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene once famously blamed a rash of wildfires in California on space lasers–more specifically, Jewish space lasers.
And this demonstrates the growing problem. It’s one thing when a conspiracy theory exists on the fringes and is largely dismissed by reasonable people, especially by those holding elected office. But it is another thing entirely when the people we look to for leadership abandon any and all fidelity to the truth.
This is what five-term Republican US Rep. Scott Perry (Dauphin) did right after the 2020 presidential election was called, and Joe Biden was declared the winner. Perry dove headlong into a series of wild conspiracy theories and then tried to act on them. That’s what a recent report on text messages between Perry and then White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows tells us.
Perry is the chairman of the fringe-right House Freedom Caucus, and of the 34 members of Congress who texted Meadows after the election with advice and action plans to overturn Trump’s loss, Perry’s messages were among the most extreme. And as the days passed, Perry seemingly became an unfiltered pass-through for all kinds of increasingly silly conspiracies.
He blamed China:
“DNI needs to task NSA to immediately seize and begin looking for international comms related to Dominion – was china malware involved?” Perry wrote.
He blamed the British, who he said were working with our own CIA, led by Gina Haspel:
“And Gina is still running around on the Hill covering for the Brits who helped quarterback this entire operation.”
There were several more, each growing in complexity and general weirdness.
And worse, Perry took action based on his appetite for conspiracies. He spearheaded Trump’s efforts to advance the coup through the Department of Justice by introducing Trump to Jeffrey Clark, an environmental lawyer that Trump and Perry tried to install as the new acting Attorney General. Efforts to fire Jeffrey Rosen, who was the acting Attorney General at the time, failed when leadership at the DOJ threatened to resign en masse, forcing Trump and Perry to abandon this part of the plot. But they tried it, and the fact they did should not be overlooked.
Many of the post-election denialists have admitted in one way or another that they trafficked in conspiracy theories to play to the base, or to advance the party’s agenda in some way. But the Perry/Meadows texts are different. They are behind the scenes, and away from the press and public, which means Perry had no reason to lie in those communications.
This implies a true belief in the absolute nonsense he was sharing with people at the highest levels of our government.
Forwarding these lies is disqualifying. Believing them is cause for concern for his well being. And the fact that Perry advanced his career doing so (he was named the chairman of the Freedom Caucus a year later, in November of 2021) means the problem is growing and gaining power.