IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Jan. 6 texts help reveal the GOP’s unfortunate true believers

There’s plenty of performative posturing in politics, but the Republicans' newly revealed Jan. 6 texts paint a picture of a group of GOP true believers.


Politicians usually aren’t professional actors, but there’s a general understanding that even the most authentic officials and candidates aren’t fully transparent. It’s not that they're phonies, so much as they’re mindful of the fact that they need to win elections. Invariably, that means politicians tend to be, at a minimum, somewhat diplomatic in their public comments.

It’s why many of us take a keen interest in hot-mic moments and instances in which officials are recorded without their knowledge: These stories offer rare peeks behind the curtain, letting us know what prominent figures genuinely believe when they’re being unguarded, assuming the public won’t know what they’re saying.

The House Jan. 6 committee is holding its final public hearing on Monday, Dec. 19 at 1 p.m. ET. Get expert analysis in real time on our live blog at

It’s also one of the reasons the texts former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows turned over to the Jan. 6 committee are so striking: They, too, offer a behind-the-scenes look at what Donald Trump’s allies were saying about the Republican scheme to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

Talking Points Memo, which obtained the text messages, has published a series of reports on the revelations, including this one yesterday:

Rep. Rick Allen (R-GA) is not one of the better-known figures in the extended universe of former President Trump’s political allies. However, based on text messages obtained by TPM, Allen is one of the members of Congress who worked most aggressively behind the scenes to reverse Trump’s loss in the 2020 election. Allen’s attempts to challenge the vote included passing unproven YouTube conspiracy videos from Romania to the White House and pressuring Georgia’s secretary of state. At least one of the paranoid election theories Allen texted to Meadows made its way directly to Trump.

The texts from the Georgia Republican make the congressman appear to be rather nutty. Allen tried to bolster his many strange claims with secret sources and videos he found on YouTube, which TPM described as “utterly fantastical.”

But the GOP congressman, who had no idea that the public would later see the texts, not only expected the Trump White House to take his bizarre theories seriously, it also seemed that Allen sincerely believed his own nonsense. This wasn’t an example of a politician posturing for the cameras, hoping to exploit confused members of the Republican base. The Georgian’s text messages suggest he thought his weird ideas had actual merit.

Indeed, it’s a recurring takeaway from the larger collection of texts sent to the then-White House chief of staff. Then-Rep. Ted Budd of North Carolina texted Meadows on Nov. 7 — the day Joe Biden was named the president-elect — and shared a ridiculous message about conspiratorial links between Dominion Voting Systems and billionaire George Soros.

Rep. Scott Perry of Pennsylvania apparently believed there were secret Italian satellites rigging American voting machines and the Trump-appointed CIA director was in cahoots with the British.

Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona, pushing a line that apparently originated with Alex Jones’ InfoWars website, argued that China had secretly purchased Dominion.

Obviously, the claims were baseless. But just as important is the fact that each of these Republicans weren’t peddling foolish arguments to raise money or line up cable-news appearances, they were peddling foolish arguments because they were oblivious as to their foolishness.

There’s plenty of performative posturing in politics, but these texts paint a picture of a group of GOP true believers.