But the plan was consistent with the posture Mr. Perry had taken since November, when he began to falsely claim that there had been rampant fraud in the election, and throughout it all, Mr. Perry has remained defiant. Facing calls to resign over his role in the efforts to overturn the election, Mr. Perry issued a one-word response: “No.”
Mr. Perry, a retired brigadier general in the Pennsylvania Army National Guard and an Iraq War veteran, has previously been scrutinized for his openness to the conspiratorial. He baselessly suggested that the 2017 mass shooting in Las Vegas by a lone gunman could have been influenced by “terrorist infiltration through the southern border.” and refused to support a resolution that condemned QAnon, a pro-Trump conspiracy movement. (Mr. Perry said he believed that the resolution infringed on individuals’ right to free speech and that he did not personally subscribe to the movement.)
An early supporter of the “Stop the Steal” movement,
Mr. Perry was one of 126 House Republicans who joined a legal brief in December supporting an extraordinary lawsuit seeking to overturn Mr. Biden’s victory. And he joined over two dozen of his colleagues who urged Mr. Trump to direct William P. Barr, the attorney general, to “investigate irregularities in the 2020 election.”
He objected on behalf of 79 other House Republicans to certifying Pennsylvania’s electoral results, even though he later acknowledged Mr. Biden as the president-elect.
The plan that Mr. Perry devised with Mr. Clark set off a crisis at the Justice Department. When Mr. Clark approached Mr. Rosen with the Georgia letter at the end of December, Mr. Rosen refused to send it, according to four former administration officials. On Jan. 3, Mr. Clark notified Mr. Rosen that he would be taking his job at Mr. Trump’s behest.
As Mr. Rosen prepared to meet Mr. Trump later that day and fight for his job, his top deputies, including the acting deputy attorney general, Richard P. Donoghue, and his outgoing chief of staff, Patrick Hovakimian, convened the department’s senior leaders on a conference call, according to five former officials with knowledge of the call.
They told the department leaders that Mr. Rosen’s job was in jeopardy because of Mr. Clark’s machinations and said they would resign if Mr. Rosen was removed. They ended the call by asking their colleagues to privately consider what they would do if that happened. Over the next 15 minutes, all of them emailed or texted Mr. Hovakimian, saying that they would quit.