Newly revealed text messages to Mark Meadows show former President Trump’s chief of staff caught in the middle between factions of the GOP pressuring him to challenge the 2020 election as others close to the White House expressed reservations about the validity of Trump’s election fraud claims.
The messages — part of a trove of all 2,319 texts that Meadows has turned over to the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot — were obtained by CNN and add to prior reporting showing the pressure on Meadows as well as former Vice President Mike Pence.
“Dems and some Republicans may well try to shortstop our objection efforts. Hoping the VP sticks with us,” Rep. Brian Babin (R-Texas) wrote to Meadows in late December 2020.
In another message, Meadows responds to a message from Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) forwarded on behalf of a constituent saying he should “call out all electoral votes that he believes are unconstitutional as no electoral votes at all.”
“I have pushed for this. Not sure it is going to happen,” Meadows wrote the morning of Jan. 6.
Meanwhile, Meadows was facing pressure from another lawmaker, Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.) encouraging the chief of staff to contact Jeffrey Clark, a mid-level attorney at the Department of Justice (DOJ) whom Trump weighed installing as attorney general in order to forward election fraud investigations after other DOJ officials refused to do so.
“Mark, just checking in as time continues to count down. 11 days to 1/6 and 25 days to inauguration. We gotta get going!” Perry wrote on Dec. 26, 2020.
“Mark, you should call Jeff,” he said, adding that Clark had concerns that the DOJ wouldn’t coordinate with the FBI to pursue the investigations.
“They will view it as as not having the authority to enforce what needs to be done,” Perry relayed for Clark.
While Meadows replied “got it” and said he would try to work on it, he did not respond to a follow-up text from Perry two days later asking if he had spoken with Clark.
Both Perry and Jordan have been asked to voluntarily appear before the Jan. 6 committee.
An attorney for Meadows did not respond to a request for comment.
Meadows was also getting texts from others backing conspiracy theories connected with Trump’s baseless claims of election fraud.
Arizona GOP Chairwoman Kelli Ward tried to connect Meadows with a man who she said had insight into the election outcome.
“This guy says he’s cracked the whole election fraud and wants to speak to someone. I sent his info to Molly Michael a few days ago, but I’m not sure it went anywhere,” she said, referring to Trump’s assistant.
My Pillow founder Mike Lindell also contacted Meadows.
“Everything Sidney has said is true! We have to get the machines and everything we already have proves the President won by millions of votes!” he wrote to Meadows on Dec. 20, 2020, making a reference to the lawyer Sidney Powell, who made a number of false allegations about the election.
“This is the biggest cover up of one of the worst crimes in history! I have spent over a million$ to help uncover this fraud and used my platform so people can get the word not to give up!”
But amid the pressure from some in the GOP, others more closely connected with the campaign were expressing doubts about their ability to demonstrate any voter fraud.
Trump campaign spokesman Jason Miller sent a text to Meadows and Dan Scavino, part of the White House communications team, along with Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, suggesting the data did not back up claims in Pennsylvania.
“One other key data point: In 2016, POTUS received 15.5% of the vote in Philadelphia County. Today he is currently at 18.3%. So he increased from his performance in 2016. In 2016, Philadelphia County made up 11.3% of the total vote in the state. As it currently stands, Philadelphia County only makes up 10.2% of the statewide vote tally. So POTUS performed better in a smaller share. Sen. [Rick] Santorum was just making this point on CNN – cuts hard against the urban vote stealing narrative,” Miller wrote.
Miller later sent another text saying the campaign could not find any evidence of a conspiracy connecting Democratic donor George Soros to Dominion Voting Systems that Trump was complaining about.
In another text, Kushner shares a fact-check article with Meadows saying there were no suitcases filled with ballots in Georgia.
But when an unidentified contact asked Meadows about his confidence in the fraud claims, he seemed largely convinced.
“Dominion, not that confident. Other fraud. Very confident,” he said.
The texts also further demonstrate the fear many GOP lawmakers felt in the moment during the Capitol riot even as some have since downplayed the event.
“It’s really bad up here on the hill. They have breached the Capitol,” Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-Ga.) wrote.
Loudermilk would later say that Trump had nothing to do with the riot.
“He didn’t have anything to do with January 6. I think that’s a far-fetched idea,” the Georgia Republican said in October.
“The president needs to stop this ASAP,” Rep. William Timmons (R-S.C.) texted Meadows as the attack was unfolding.
But other texts to Meadows show a push to blame “antifa,” a portmanteau used to describe anti-fascism protesters, for the violence at the Capitol.
“Call me crazy, but ideas for two tweets from POTUS: 1) Bad apples, likely ANTIFA or other crazed leftists, infiltrated today’s peaceful protest over the fraudulent vote count. Violence is never acceptable! MAGA supporters embrace our police and the rule of law and should leave the Capitol now! 2) The fake news media who encouraged this summer s violent and radical riots are now trying to blame peaceful and innocent MAGA supporters for violent actions. This isn’t who we are! Our people should head home and let the criminals suffer the consequences!” Miller texted Meadows and Scavino just hours after the attack began to unfold.
That message appeared to circulate among some far-right lawmakers just minutes later.
“Mark we don’t think these attackers are our people. We think they are Antifa. Dressed like Trump supporters,” Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) wrote.
“Cap Police told me last night they’d been warned that today there’d be a lot of Antifa dressed in red Trump shirts & hats & would likely get violent,” Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) told Meadows.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism