Days before Joe Biden’s presidential inauguration, Republican congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene appeared in a text to White House chief of staff Mark Meadows to press for Donald Trump to overturn his 2020 election defeat by invoking martial law, new messages show.
The message – one of more than 2,000 texts turned over by Meadows to the House select committee investigating January 6 and first reported by CNN – shows that some of Trump’s most ardent allies on Capitol Hill were pressing for Trump to return himself to office even after the Capitol attack.
“In our private chat with only Members several are saying the only way to save our Republic is for Trump to call Marshall [sic] law,” Greene texted on 17 January. “I just wanted you to tell him. They stole this election. We all know. They will destroy our country next.”
The message about Trump potentially invoking martial law, earlier reported by CNN on Monday and confirmed by the Guardian, came a month after the idea had been raised in a heated Oval Office meeting a month before, where Trump considered ways to overturn the 2020 election.
Meadows did not appear to respond to Greene’s text. But the messages Trump’s top White House aide was receiving shows the extraordinary ideas swirling around Trump after he and his operatives were unable to stop the certification of Biden’s election win on January 6.
Greene – one of Trump’s fiercest far-right defenders on Capitol Hill – also texted Meadows days before the Capitol attack asking about how to prepare for objections to Biden’s win at the joint session of Congress, the text messages show.
“Good morning Mark, I’m here in DC. We have to get organized for the 6th,” Greene wrote on 31 December. “I would like to meet with Rudy Giuliani again. We didn’t get to speak with him long. Also anyone who can help. We are getting a lot of members on board.”
That text message from Greene, who had not yet been sworn in as a member of Congress, a week before the Capitol attack also underscores her close relationship with the Trump White House and an extraordinary level of coordination to obstruct Biden being certified as president.
But the text messages that Meadows did not turn over to the select committee – as opposed to the communications he agreed to produce for the investigation – were perhaps more notable as the panel investigates connections between the White House and the Capitol attack.
The panel is aware, for instance, that Meadows had contacts through December 2020 and January 2021 with organizers of the Save America rally at the Ellipse that descended into the Capitol attack as well as with Trump campaign officials, say sources close to the inquiry.
Yet none of the text messages Meadows produced to the select committee through a cooperation deal agreed last year and in response to a subpoena show any such contacts, raising the specter that he might have deliberately withheld some communications.
The former White House chief of staff appears to have ultimately turned over no text messages between 9 December and 21 December, a critical time period in the lead-up to the Capitol attack during which a number of key moments took place.
Meadows appeared to be aware of efforts by the White House and others, for instance, to send fake Trump slates of electors to Congress. The idea was to have “dueling” slates of electors force then-vice president Mike Pence to discount those votes and return Trump to office.
That scheme – which the select committee believes was coordinated in part by the Trump White House, the sources said – appeared to occur on 14 December, the deadline under the Electoral Count Act for states to send electoral college votes to Congress.
Meadows also was in close contact with Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani and others after the contentious Oval Office meeting with Trump on 18 December, as he sought to bar onetime Trump campaign lawyer and conspiracy theorist Sidney Powell from the White House.
But Meadows appears to have turned over no text messages from that crucial period, as allies of the former president started to set their sights on January 6, including the Stop the Steal movement that started to plan a protest at the Capitol around that time.
The seeming omission may be explained in part by the fact that Meadows was communicating about those plans on his personal cell phone – against which the select committee issued a subpoena contested by Meadows in federal court as “overly broad”.
The absence of messages between 9 December and 21 December may also be explained more straightforwardly by the fact that Meadows did not receive any messages during that period. Meadows’ lawyer could not immediately be reached for comment.
House investigators are not convinced they have been given all the text messages relevant to their subpoena, according to one source with knowledge of the matter, and expect to continue pursuing Meadows’ documents and personal communications in court.
In a motion for summary judgment with respect to Meadows’ records, the select committee said in a 248-page court filing late on Friday that it believed Meadows’ claims for withholding material from the investigation on grounds of executive privilege were baseless.