Johnson Names Hard-Right Trump Allies to Intelligence Panel, Prompting Concerns


Speaker Mike Johnson has appointed two outspoken hard-right allies of former President Donald J. Trump with major ethical and legal issues to the House Intelligence Committee, prompting criticism from members of both parties.

Mr. Johnson on Wednesday installed Representatives Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, the former chairman of the right-wing House Freedom Caucus, and Ronny Jackson of Texas, Mr. Trump’s former White House doctor, on the panel. Mr. Perry played a major role in Mr. Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election and has faced legal issues over his actions. Mr. Jackson was demoted by the Pentagon amid allegations that he mistreated subordinates, sexually harassed a woman and drank and took sleeping pills while serving as the White House physician.

The decision came as a surprise to Representative Michael R. Turner, Republican of Ohio and the committee’s chairman, and Representative Jim Himes of Connecticut, the top Democrat on the panel, who found out about it from news reports, according to a person familiar with the matter who spoke without authorization to comment publicly.

The panel has historically operated in a bipartisan manner, and is largely composed of serious-minded lawmakers rather than strident partisans. The break with tradition prompted fears that the intelligence community might pull back on the sensitive national security information it shares with Congress.

The appointments also sparked outrage from Democrats and mainstream Republicans, given the ethical and legal issues in which both men have been embroiled. Punchbowl News reported on Thursday that Mr. Johnson had made the appointments at the behest of Mr. Trump.

A spokesman for Mr. Johnson did not reply to questions about the appointments.

Former Representative Adam Kinzinger, Republican of Illinois and a former Air Force pilot, called the move “insane.”

Representative Mikie Sherrill, Democrat of New Jersey and a former Navy helicopter pilot, wrote on social media that Mr. Johnson was “putting his MAGA agenda ahead of our national security — at Donald Trump’s direction.”

She added: “I have serious concerns about Reps. Perry & Jackson serving on the Intel Committee, considering their efforts to overturn free & fair elections, incite an insurrection, and their reckless actions on the job. They’ll weaponize the Intel Committee to support Trump’s agenda.”

Mr. Perry was among those who led the effort in Congress to overturn the results of the 2020 election on Mr. Trump’s behalf. In the weeks after Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory, Mr. Perry was among at least 11 Republican members of Congress involved in discussions with Trump administration officials about reversing the results. Those included plans to pressure Vice President Mike Pence to throw out electoral votes from states won by Mr. Biden.

Mr. Perry also endorsed the idea of encouraging supporters to march to the Capitol, according to the House committee that investigated the attack of Jan. 6, 2021. And he played an active role in the attempt to replace Jeffrey A. Rosen as acting attorney general with a more compliant official, Jeffrey Clark, willing to back Mr. Trump’s bid to stay in power.

The F.B.I. seized Mr. Perry’s personal cellphone in the summer of 2022 and created a forensic copy of its contents, but told Mr. Perry he was not the target of the investigation, his lawyer said at the time.

In a statement, Mr. Perry thanked Mr. Johnson for selecting him for the panel, and promised he would serve as a check on the intelligence community.

“I look forward to providing not only a fresh perspective, but conducting actual oversight — not blind obedience to some facets of our intel community that all too often abuse their powers, resources, and authority to spy on the American people,” Mr. Perry said.

Mr. Jackson has stayed in close contact with Mr. Trump after serving as his White House physician, when he famously praised the then-president’s “excellent health” and “incredible genes.” Mr. Trump nominated him in 2018 to be secretary of veterans affairs, but Mr. Jackson was forced to step aside amid the allegations of professional misconduct that ultimately led to his military demotion.

Mr. Trump then backed Mr. Jackson in a successful run for Congress. A little over one year after he took office, congressional ethics investigators accused Mr. Jackson of improperly using campaign donations to pay for unlimited access for himself and his wife to a private dining club in Amarillo, Texas.

Mr. Jackson has quietly lobbied for the position on the intelligence committee for years. He voted in favor of reauthorizing key provisions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, a stance favored by members of the panel but fiercely opposed by many on the far right, including Mr. Perry.

“Far too many bad actors around the world want to see America’s national security and status on the world stage destroyed, and it is critical that our intelligence community counters these efforts and keeps our country safe,” Mr. Jackson said in a statement. “Working alongside Chairman Turner, I believe we will be able to restore the American people’s complete faith in our intelligence community.”

Mr. Perry and Mr. Jackson will replace former Representatives Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin and Chris Stewart of Utah, both mainstream Republican lawmakers who joined a wave of resignations from Congress during a uniquely chaotic and unproductive session.

Mr. Turner and Mr. Himes have worked to bring a bipartisan, serious reputation back to the panel, which Republicans contended had become politicized in previous years by its pursuit of the first impeachment of Mr. Trump. The two men have often made joint news appearances.

Given the new appointment, some on the panel expressed concern privately on Thursday that officials in the intelligence community would narrow the scope of sensitive information they share with Congress in the future.



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