‘Hard Core Trump Guys’ And Alternate Electors: Key Details From Mark Meadows’ Latest Leaked Texts
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In recent weeks a stream of text messages exchanged by President Trump’s former chief of staff, Mark Meadows, have leaked. The latest Meadows texts, which were published by CNN on Friday, show his conversations with two Republican allies in Congress — Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) — and there are two key details.
Overall, the messages show that both Lee and Roy encouraged and aided efforts to overturn Trump’s loss in the 2020 election. We already knew that members of Congress were part of the push to block President Joe Biden’s victory that culminated in the January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol as the vote was being certified. Last October, I reported that two organizers of the main January 6 rally where Trump spoke on the White House Ellipse claimed they were involved in “dozens” of planning calls where Republican members of Congress discussed strategies for overturning the election with activists. Along with adding to the evidence that members of Congress actively strategized to reverse Trump’s loss, the messages from Lee to Meadows provide some new detail on the White House’s efforts to overturn the vote.
In a message dated December 8, 2020, over a month after Biden’s projected victory, Lee wrote to Meadows advocating the “alternate electors” strategy, which involved having Trump supporters replace the representatives to the electoral college in key swing states.
“If a very small handful of states were to have their legislatures appoint alternative slates of delegates, there could be a path,” Lee wrote.
Meadows’ response confirmed he was trying to implement that plan.
“I am working on that as of yesterday,” Meadows replied.
The House select committee subpoenaed 14 people who were allegedly involved in the “alternate electors” plot in January including multiple state Republican Party officials and, as first reported by The Uprising, a Trump campaign aide. On January 4, 2020, Lee suggested to Meadows that he had “been spending 14 hours a day for the last week” working on the plan including “calling state legislators for hours today.” After that effort, Lee seemed to sour on the “alternate electors” plan because he felt Trump was moving forward without the support of state legislatures. Meadows’ response indicated Trump was also focused on pressuring former Vice President Mike Pence.
“He thinks the legislatures have the power but that the Vp has power too,” wrote Meadows.
Spokespeople for Lee and Meadows did not respond to requests for comment. None of the pro-Trump “alternate electors” slates were adopted by state officials or put before Congress.
Roy’s messages to Meadows indicate he was eager to receive talking points to challenge the election. On November 22, 2020, Roy provided an interesting glimpse into Trump’s hard line supporters in Congress as seen by their colleagues.
“If we don't get logic and reason in this before 11/30 - the GOP conference will bolt (all except the most hard core Trump guys),” Roy wrote.
In other words, Roy felt Trump’s most ardent supporters in Congress were willing to fight his loss beyond reason. A spokesperson for Roy did not respond to a request for comment.
On January 6, Lee was reportedly being taken to a secure location while he received a misdirected call from Trump pressing for members of Congress to object to the electoral certification. Roy texted Meadows that the scene was “a sh*tshow.” After hours of delay caused by the violence, Pence rejected the notion he had the power to overturn the vote and presided over a joint session of Congress. Ultimately, Lee and Roy did not join the 147 other Republicans who objected to the election results.
According to CNN, the messages exchanged by Meadows, Lee, and Roy are among those that were obtained by the House select committee as part of its investigation into the attack. The committee did not respond to a request for comment on this story. Last month, the Washington Post published messages from Meadows and Ginni Thomas, the activist and wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas that the paper described as “among 2,320 that Meadows provided to the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.” During a committee hearing last December, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) read aloud texts exchanged between Meadows and Fox News Channel personalities during the violence.
We have just seen a fraction of Meadows’ messages and the ones that have been published aren’t among the material he’s fighting in court to keep from investigators. The House has referred Meadows to the Justice Department for criminal contempt charges for defying the committee’s subpoena.
The messages we have seen so far helped show high level support and involvement in efforts to overturn the election. There’s almost certainly a lot more to come.