Former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows exchanged text messages with at least 34 Republican lawmakers as they plotted to overturn former President Donald Trump’s 2020 election loss, according to a trove of thousands of messages obtained by Talking Points Memo.
The texts, which were part of a trove of messages that Meadows turned over to the House Jan. 6 committee, show Meadows and members of Congress exchange conspiracy theories, links to far-right websites, questionable legal theories and even a misspelled call to invoke martial law. The messages show the Republicans discussing plans to block President Joe Biden’s victory leading up to Jan. 6 and continuing until Trump’s final hours in office.
Rep. Ralph Norman, R.S.C., on Jan. 17, 2021, warned Meadows that “we are at a point of no return in saving our Republic.”
“Our LAST HOPE is invoking Marshall Law!!” Norman wrote in the message. “PLEASE URGE THE PRESIDENT TO DO SO!!”
The trove of messages is incomplete and does not include Meadows’ response. Norman did not respond to TPM when presented with a copy of the message.
The leaked messages include at least 364 texts from members of Congress to Meadows and at least 95 messages from Meadows to the lawmakers. The highest profile lawmakers involved in the plotting included Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas; Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio; and Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala. In one text message, longtime Trump adviser Jason Miller described Brooks as the “ringleader” of the effort to block the certification of the election results on Jan. 6.
Another key lawmaker involved in the effort was Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., who proposed a daring scheme to seize voting machines a week after the election. Perry suggested forming a “cyber forensic team” that would seize voting machines and communications and “put them under lock and key.” Perry repeatedly shared conspiracy theories with Meadows and connected him with Sidney Powell, the discredited right-wing lawyer that pushed legal challenges in multiple states. He also pressed Meadows to install Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark, an environmental lawyer, as acting attorney general.
In other text messages, the Republican was increasingly focused on the discredited “ItalyGate” conspiracy theory, which claimed that an Italian defense contractor used satellites to hack voting machines and flip the election to Biden. Meadows later urged the DOJ to investigate the claim, according to a Senate report.
Meadows also exchanged 63 messages with Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., another key player in the scheme who repeatedly shared conspiracy theories with the White House. Biggs repeatedly pushed claims of fraud and urged Meadows to take up a “highly controversial” strategy to have Republican-led legislatures in states with “shenanigans” throw the election to Trump. The suggestion appears to be an early hint at the fake elector strategy that has come under investigation by the Justice Department and other prosecutors.
“I love it,” Meadows wrote to Biggs.
The messages show that some Republicans viewed the effort to steal the election as a dramatic battle against leftists.
“Mark, when we lose Trump we lose our Republic,” Rep. Brian Babin, R-Texas, who sent at least 21 messages to Meadows, wrote in a text on November 6, 2020. “We’re with you down here in Texas and refuse to live under a corrupt Marxist dictatorship!”
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The texts also show that right-wing dark money groups were involved in the plotting. In one Nov. 9 text, Conservative Partnership Institute CEO Edward Corrigan texted Meadows that Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, would hold a meeting with colleagues to discuss legal strategies.
“Mike Lee has about a dozen Senators coming over to CPI tonight and they wanted to hear from a legal expert on what’s going on with the campaign,” Corrigan wrote. “Any suggestions who would be good for that?”
CPI, which Meadows joined after leaving the White House, is an increasingly influential right-wing group linked to the far-right House Freedom Caucus and served as “something of a headquarters for members of Congress working to overturn the election,” according to TPM.
Other text messages show lawmakers sending conspiracy theories and anecdotal claims of alleged fraud.
“I know of at least 2 people who told me they mailed in their ballots and voted in person so you can tell them they might be interested in going over all votes in Nevada,” Rep. Billy Long, R-Mo., wrote to Meadows on Nov. 4.
Others discussed potential lawsuits to overturn the results. Rep. Warren Davidson, R-Ohio, urged Meadows to have failed Republican Michigan Senate candidate John James “lead the challenge in Michigan.” Rep. Mike Kelly, R-Pa., bragged about suing the Pennsylvania secretary of state for “illegal meddling” and offered to do “anything I can do to fight these MF’ers in Pa.”
Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., offered to “put some cash together for a defense fund.”
Rep. Mark Green, R-Tenn., cited a Newsmax segment to suggest that state legislatures could intervene and declare Trump the winner in states like North Carolina, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, which all have Republican majorities.
Rep. Greg Murphy, R-N.C., sent another article urging to throw the election to state legislatures. “Why are we not pursuing this strategy?” he questioned.
Others simply shared conspiracy theories blaming left-wing boogeymen for Trump’s loss and discussing the baseless claim that Dominion voting machines “flipped” votes from Trump to Biden.
“FYI Dominion Voting Systems is owned by State Street Capital, which are Carlyle (Rubenstein alums), Rubenstein is a longtime co-investor with Soros Capital,” Rep. Ted Budd, R-N.C., wrote to Meadows on November 7.
Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., falsely claimed in a December 16 text that “China bought Dominion in October for $400 million,” repeating a claim that apparently originated on Alex Jones’ InfoWars conspiracy theory outlet. Gosar also sent Meadows a link to a fringe blog called “Some Bitch Showed Me” and other files purporting to show fraud in Arizona.
Leading up to Jan. 6, the messages show that Cruz played a key role in organizing Senate support to object to election results in certain contested states. Brooks also discussed plans for Jan. 6, and Jordan texted specific instructions for then-Vice President Mike Pence. Meadows revealed on meeting in a text to Fox News anchor Brian Kilmeade on December 21.
“The President and I met with about 15 members of Congress to discuss the evidence of voter fraud in various states,” he wrote, “as well as discuss the strategy for making the case to the American people.”
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