September 28, 2022
The texts included previously unreported messages—including a group chat with Trump administration cabinet officials and plans to object to Joe Biden’s election certification on January 6 by Republican members of Congress and one former US attorney, as well as other Trump allies.
The book, “The Breach” by former Congressman Denver Riggleman, was obtained by The Guardian in advance of its scheduled publication on Tuesday, September 27. The 288-page tome, published by Henry Holt and Co., already has become controversial after being condemned by the panel as “unauthorized.”
Although most of the texts sent to and from Meadows that Riggleman includes in the book have been public for months, his text offers new insight into and fills some gaps about how all three branches of government were seemingly involved in strategizing ways to obstruct the congressional certification on January 6, 2021.
Less than an hour after the election was called for Biden, for instance, Rick Perry, Trump’s former energy secretary, texted a group chat that included Meadows; then-housing secretary, Ben Carson; and former agriculture secretary, Sonny Perdue, all concluding that Trump should dispute the call.
“POTUS line should be: Biden says hes [sic] president. America will see what big data says,” Perry wrote. “This sets the stage for what we’re about to prove.” While Carson was more cautious, Perdue appeared unconcerned about seeing concrete proof of election fraud. “No quit!” he wrote.
The former president’s final White House chief of staff also fielded a text from the Republican Senator Kevin Cramer, who forwarded a note from North Dakota’s then-U.S. attorney, Drew Wrigley, who offered his own advice for overturning the results because “Trump’s legal team has made a joke of this whole thing.”
“Demand statewide recount of absentee/mail-in ballots in line with pre-existing state law with regard to signature comparisons,” Wrigley wrote. “If state officials refuse that recount, the legislature would then act under the Constitution, selecting the slate of electors.”
The suggestion from Wrigley echoed what the Trump legal team would ultimately pursue in having fake electors sent to Congress on January 6 to have the then vice-president, Mike Pence, refuse to certify Biden’s win—a scheme now part of a criminal investigation by the US attorney in Washington, D.C.
The text from Wrigley is significant since the Justice Department is supposed to remain above the political fray. Wrigley’s note appears to mark an instance of a federal prosecutor endorsing a legally dubious scheme when there was no fraud sufficient to alter the outcome of the 2020 election.
A DOJ spokesperson could not immediately be reached for comment. Wrigley, now the North Dakota state attorney general, also could not be immediately reached for comment.
Texts to Meadows also show Republican lawmakers started to finalize objections to the certification of the 2020 election only hours after Trump sent a tweet about a “big protest” that the House January 6 committee has said mobilized far-right groups to make preparations to storm the Capitol.
The former president sent the pivotal tweet in the early hours of December 19, 2020. The panel previously described it as the catalyst that triggered the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers groups, as well as “Stop the Steal” activists, to target obstructing the certification.
But the tweet also coincided with efforts by Republican lawmakers to finalize objections to the congressional certification of Joe Biden’s election win, new texts from some of Trump’s most ardent supporters on Capitol Hill sent to Meadows show.
Hours after Trump sent his tweet, according to texts published in the book, the Republican congressman Jody Hice messaged Meadows to say he would be “leading” his state’s “electoral college objection on Jan 6”—days before Trump is known to have met with Republicans at the White House to discuss it.
The congressman also told Meadows that Trump “spoke” with Marjorie Taylor Greene, a far-right Republican who had been elected to a House seat in Georgia but had yet to be sworn in, and was interested in meeting with the ultra-conservative House Freedom Caucus.
Hice’s messages to Meadows came at a critical juncture: It was the Saturday after a contentious Friday meeting at the White House, where Trump entertained seizing voting machines and installing a conspiracy theorist lawyer, Sidney Powell, as special counsel to investigate election fraud.
The meeting to discuss objecting to Biden’s win on January 6 was originally scheduled for the next Monday, December 21, 2020, but it was rescheduled to take place on the next Tuesday, according to the book, citing additional messages sent by the Republican congressman Brian Babin.
Nine days after the meeting with Trump, the Republican members of Congress seemed to finish their objection plans, and Babin texted Meadows to say the “objectors” would be having an additional strategy session at the Conservative Partnership Institute, which played host to other January 6 efforts.
The timing of the new texts to Meadows raised the prospect that Trump’s tweet moved ahead several plans that worked in concert, with the Republican objections about supposed fraud giving Pence a pretext to throw out Biden votes as rioters obstructed proceedings.
Research contact: @guardian