House Speaker appoints Trump loyalists Perry and Jackson to Intelligence Committee

House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) named the representatives Wednesday. Scott Perry (Republican of Pennsylvania) and Ronny Jackson (Republican of Texas), two Trump loyalists who denied the results of the 2020 election, to the House Intelligence Committee, granting them oversight of the intelligence community US and sensitive government documents.

The committee seats are highly sought after in Congress and closely watched because members have access to some of the most classified information in the country and are responsible for overseeing spy agencies, including the collection of information within the FBI – for which former President Donald Trump regularly expressed disdain.

Perry, a die-hard Republican who previously chaired the right-wing House Freedom Caucus, played a key role in promoting false claims of election fraud and pushing the Trump White House and Justice Department to investigate the unfounded allegations and to prevent the transfer. power to President Biden. The FBI seized Perry’s cellphone records in 2022 as part of the criminal investigation into Trump’s efforts to overturn the election, and Perry sought to block what federal investigators could access on his phone. In December 2023, a federal judge ordered Perry to disclose nearly 1,700 records from his cell phone to the investigation led by special counsel Jack Smith. Perry’s lawyer said U.S. officials never described Perry as a target of their ongoing investigation in their discussions with the congressman, and that he was not charged.

Jackson, a retired U.S. Navy officer who joined Congress in 2021, served as physician to Presidents Barack Obama and Trump. He was demoted from the rank of retired rear admiral to captain in July 2022 following a damaged Pentagon inspector general report that Allegations based on his inappropriate behavior as White House physician. Jackson denied the report’s allegations and claimed they were politically motivated.

The nominations of Jackson and Perry come a day after Johnson, a staunch Trump ally, outlined a “three-pronged approach” for how the Republican majority can target the Justice Department, New York and other jurisdictions to investigate Trump – using, among other things. things, the oversight powers of the House.

Johnson, who was elected president after a group of Republicans ousted his predecessor for working with Democratic proposals to pass legislation, pledged to help Trump win in November and choose Perry and Jackson to replace two GOP members who resigned from office. show how he is prepared to elevate two pro-Trump far-right members to the most prestigious roles.

Scott and Perry will replace retiring members Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.), who upset his Republican colleagues when he opposed the impeachment of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, and Chris Stewart (R-Utah). .

Taylor Haulsee, a spokesperson for Johnson’s office, said in a statement that the speaker “has the utmost confidence in Congressmen Perry and Jackson to effectively serve the American people on the Intelligence Committee.”

Both Jackson and Perry released statements thanking Johnson for the appointments.

“I am humbled by his confidence in me, my service to our nation and my experience in this field,” Perry, a military veteran, said in his statement. “I look forward to providing not only a fresh perspective, but also conducting real oversight – not blindly obeying certain faces in our Intel community who too often abuse their powers, resources and authority to spy on the American people.”

In a short video posted to social media after his appointment to the committee, Perry also said Johnson “took a hard look” at his background. “I’ve had a national security clearance for decades and I think that’s important to him, and I think he wanted different perspectives on the committee as well,” he added.

Jackson, who previously expressed interest in joining the committee, said in his statement that he believes the committee “will be able to restore the full trust of the American people in our intelligence community.”

The Rep.’s office. Rep. Jim Himes (Conn.), the committee’s top Democrat, declined to comment on the nominations. But the move sparked strong criticism from the representative. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), who serves on the House Foreign Affairs and Oversight committees.

Connolly told MSNBC on Wednesday that Johnson’s nomination was “a very bad decision for our country” that shows the speaker is “bending to the right.”

“Neither of these two gentlemen is qualified for the Intelligence Committee. Neither should ever be near the Intelligence Committee. And that’s going to make cooperation between our counterintelligence operations, intelligence services and Congress much more complicated,” he added.

Meanwhile, former Congressman Adam Kinzinger, a Republican who served on the House select committee that investigated the insurrection, called the appointments “crazy” in a social media post Wednesday.

Spencer S. Hsu contributed to this report.

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