The House select committee investigating the January 6 attack on the US Capitol released new text messages obtained from former Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows that were sent to him in the days leading up to the insurrection and while the Capitol was under siege.
The messages were read by committee members on the House floor Tuesday during debate over referring a criminal contempt of Congress against Meadows to the Justice Department. They included messages from a Georgia government official sent to Meadows while then-President Donald Trump was on the phone with Georgia’s secretary of state urging him to “find” votes for Trump, as well as discussions of Trump’s efforts to overturn his 2020 election loss to Joe Biden. The committee also released a text Meadows sent to a member of Congress detailing Trump’s views about Vice President Mike Pence and state legislatures trying to overturn the election result.
Rep. Zoe Lofgren, a California Democrat on the select panel, read a text message from an unnamed Georgia government official sent to Meadows during the January 2 call.
“Need to end this call,” the official wrote. “I don’t think this will be productive for much longer.”
Rep. Adam Schiff, another California Democrat on the committee, read a text from an unknown number that applauded the potential appointment of Jeffery Clark to be acting attorney general while Trump tried to get the Justice Department to support his false claims of election fraud. Clark was one of the big proponents at the DOJ who was pushing to use the power of the department to investigate unfounded claims of voter fraud, but he was rebuffed by the department’s leaders.
“I heard Jeff Clark is getting put in on Monday. That’s amazing. It will make a lot of patriots happy, and I’m personally so proud that you are at the tip of the spear, and I could call you a friend,” the text to Meadows read.
The January 6 committee members did not identify who sent Meadows the messages they revealed Tuesday. But they argued that the messages were part of a litany of evidence showing how Meadows was in contempt of Congress after he reversed his decision to cooperate with the committee’s investigation.
“Mr. Meadows received numerous text messages, which he has produced without any privilege claim, imploring that Mr. Trump take specific action we all know his duty required,” said Republican Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, one of two Republicans on the select committee. “Indeed, some of those text messages, madam speaker, came from members in the chamber right now.”
On Monday, when the select committee approved its resolution holding Meadows in contempt, the panel revealed that Meadows had voluntarily provided scores of text messages he received on January 6, including from Fox News personalities, lawmakers and the then-President’s son, Donald Trump Jr.
Republicans bashed the committee for pursuing contempt charges against their former colleague, accusing them of threatening to put a former top White House official in prison to advance their political aims to harm Trump.
The select committee members responded that Meadows was flouting the law by refusing to show up for testimony about material he had already turned over to them. They used the new text messages, which they displayed on the House floor, to argue there were plenty of topics they wanted to ask him about that would not be covered by executive privilege. Meadows’ attorney argued this week that his client “made a “good-faith invocation of executive privilege and testimonial immunity.”
Rep. Pete Aguilar, a California Democrat, disclosed a text message Meadows sent to an unspecified member of Congress on January 3 about whether Pence could overturn the election when he presided over the January 6 congressional certification of the Electoral College results.
“He thinks the legislatures have the power but that the Vp has power too,” Meadows wrote to the member, according to the committee.
In another text message from November 4, 2020, the day after the election, a member suggested to Meadows an “aggressive strategy” for Republican-led state legislatures to “just send their own electors” to Congress and let the Supreme Court decide who won the election.
Another text message from a member to Meadows underscored how the committee has not received everything from the former White House chief of staff. “Please check your signal,” the January 5 message said, a reference to the encrypted messaging application Signal.
Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, the select committee’s chairman, told CNN on Tuesday the panel will “make a decision within a week or so when to release” the names of the authors of the texts to Meadows. At this point, he added, the panel had only identified House members who had sent their former House colleague text messages, and not Republican senators.
Thompson said the committee felt it was “important” to first put the content out before making the names public.
“Then we will do our own review on the committee as to if and when we will release them,” he said. “We will do it. I can’t tell you exactly when that will be.”
This story has been updated with additional developments Tuesday.
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