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

Why Mark Meadows’ reported Jan. 6 texts are so important

Mark Meadows reportedly exchanged texts with at least 34 GOP lawmakers as they plotted to overturn the 2020 election. One endorsed imposing martial law.

By

It was about a year ago when former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, at least initially, agreed to cooperate with the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack. That didn’t last: The Republican soon after changed his mind.

But as regular readers know, during that brief window, Meadows shared quite a bit with congressional investigators, including a treasure trove of communications that helped document what transpired behind the scenes as Donald Trump and his allies took steps to overturn the election. Last night, Talking Points Memo advanced the story in dramatic fashion.

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows exchanged text messages with at least 34 Republican members of Congress as they plotted to overturn President Trump’s loss in the 2020 election. Those messages are being fully, publicly documented here for the first time. The texts are part of a trove Meadows turned over to the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack that was obtained by TPM.

At issue are thousands of text messages, turned over to congressional investigators, which Talking Points Memo obtained ahead of the Jan. 6 committee’s upcoming final report.

It’s worth emphasizing that neither MSNBC nor NBC News have reviewed the materials first-hand. We have, however, reached out for comment to Meadows and key players in this story, and have not yet heard back. Similarly, TPM didn’t get constructive responses from the referenced Republicans, either.

But that doesn’t change the fact that many of the reported texts are both extraordinary and previously unknown to the public. Republican Rep. Mark Green of Tennessee, for example, who happens to be a member of the House Homeland Security Committee, alerted the then-White House chief of staff to a segment from a conservative media outlet in which operative Dick Morris insisted that legislators in GOP-led states had the power to “declare” Trump the winner, despite the election results. Republican Rep. Greg Murphy of North Carolina did the same thing, flagging for Meadows an item from a far-right website.

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 msnbc.com/jan6report.

A different North Carolina Republican, Rep. Ted Budd, 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.

North Carolinians last month thought it’d be a good idea to give Budd a promotion, elevating him to the U.S. Senate.

The night before the Jan. 6 attack, meanwhile, Republican Rep. Jim Jordan also reached out to the then-White House chief of staff and presented a plan for then-Vice President Mike Pence to reject the election results during the certification process. Next month, the GOP will put the far-right Ohioan in charge of the House Judiciary Committee.

Rep. Scott Perry also stood out, not just for the volume of texts he sent to Meadows, but also for the bizarre nature of his ideas: The Pennsylvania Republican apparently believed there were secret Italian satellites rigging American voting machines and the Trump-appointed CIA director was in cahoots with the British.

To be sure, this might make Perry sound like a bit of a nut, but Republicans have nevertheless put him on the House Foreign Affairs Committee — and the House Freedom Caucus has made him its chairman.

But perhaps most amazing of all was Rep. Ralph Norman of South Carolina, who texted Meadows on Jan. 17 — 11 days after the attack on the Capitol, and three days before Biden’s inauguration — with arguably the most bonkers message of them all:

“Mark, in seeing what’s happening so quickly, and reading about the Dominion law suits attempting to stop any meaningful investigation we are at a point of no return in saving our Republic !! Our LAST HOPE is invoking Marshall Law!! PLEASE URGE TO PRESIDENT TO DO SO!!”

For now, let’s not dwell on the fact that the far-right congressman endorsed martial law without knowing how to spell it. Instead, consider the implications of Norman’s appeal.

As the South Carolinian saw it, Trump should’ve suspended constitutional order in the United States and deployed the military — to be used against American civilians on American soil — in order to keep the losing candidate in power.

We’re talking about an elected federal lawmaker, who swore an oath to defend the Constitution of the United States.

Two days earlier, MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell was seen at the White House with a paper with the phrase “martial law if necessary” on it. It was outlandish to think the fringe conspiracy theorist had access to the West Wing and the ear of the sitting president.

But Lindell was ultimately a powerless sideshow whose weird opinions generated little more than eye-rolling. Norman, in contrast, was recently re-elected to another term on Capitol Hill, where he’ll help write laws for the world’s preeminent superpower.

Behold, our new majority party in the United States House of Representatives.