Editorial: Scott Perry, Jeffrey Clark, and the lingering threat of Jan. 6 enablers

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The six House Select Committee hearings on the attack on the Capitol have exposed the seditious lengths Donald Trump and his associates went to try to overturn the 2020 election, from promoting election fraud lies, pressuring state election officials to throw out votes, leaning on Vice President Mike Pence to illegally upend the vote tally, and trying to coerce the Justice Department to falsely claim there was voter fraud.

But Tuesday's hearing was perhaps the most explosive yet. It showed that Trump knew the Jan. 6 mob was armed, but he wanted security precautions lifted anyway; then he egged on his angry supporters and planned to march with them to the Capitol.

An aide to Chief of Staff Mark Meadows testified how Trump lunged at a Secret Service agent and tried to grab the wheel of his limousine after his security detail refused to take him to the Capitol following his Jan. 6 speech. The aide also detailed how an unhinged Trump threw his lunch at the wall after Attorney General William Barr refuted Trump's claims about election fraud.

The Trump presidency had more than its share of dubious, if not bloodcurdling, moments. The lies, lawbreaking, grifting, incompetence, pandemic mismanagement, race baiting, extortion, cozying up to dictators, impeachments, and other deficiencies seemed unrelenting. The Jan. 6 hearings matter both for history and as a way to hold Trump accountable.

But just as important is exposing and stopping Trump's enablers, including many Republican officials who remain a clear and present danger to our democracy. That includes a pair with Pennsylvania ties, U.S. Rep. Scott Perry, R.-Pa., and attorney Jeffrey Clark. Their antidemocratic efforts show how Trump nearly pulled off a coup and turned the United States into his own fiefdom.

Perry, who represents the Harrisburg area, was on the frontline of the dishonorable, months-long campaign to throw out millions of votes and undermine the will of the people. Perry spread disinformation about voting irregularities. He met with Trump in the Oval Office the day Meadows tweeted "preparing to fight back against mounting evidence of voter fraud." Meadows reportedly burned papers after meeting with Perry.

Perry also promoted a bizarre conspiracy about an Italian defense contractor conspiring to rig the presidential election. Hours after the deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol, Perry voted against certifying Pennsylvania's electoral votes even though he was reelected in the same election.

In late December 2020, Perry introduced Clark, a Philadelphia native, to Trump. Clark was an obscure environmental lawyer in the Justice Department sympathetic to Trump's baseless claims of election fraud.

Clark pitched Trump on a scheme to flip the election. Clark would send a letter to leaders in key states Trump lost falsely claiming that the Justice Department had "identified significant concerns" about the vote; the letter would urge states to send "a separate slate of electors" supporting Trump for Congress to approve. But Clark's bosses in the Justice Department found no election fraud and told Trump that repeatedly.

Trump was irate that Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen would not do his bidding and considered replacing him with Clark with just weeks left in his term. Rosen and other top Justice Department officials threatened to resign if Clark was appointed.

Federal investigators searched Clark's home last week, while Perry reportedly sought a pardon. Prosecutors should pursue lawbreakers who worked to overturn the election, while voters must reject conspirators like Perry, who is up for reelection in November.

Threats to future elections persist. But a large percentage of voters remain uninformed or misinformed about the perilous state of our democracy. Tuned out Americans must wake up from their silent slumber before it is too late.