In the aftermath of the 2020 presidential election, as Donald Trump scrambled to keep power after having been rejected by voters, then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows played an especially pernicious role.
We've known for months, for example, that Meadows made a surprise visit to Georgia shortly before Christmas, checking in on an election audit after his boss leaned on local officials to help him. What we didn't know, however, was how far the former far-right congressman went to lobby the Justice Department to bolster Team Trump's dangerous post-election scheme.
The New York Times reported over the weekend that newly uncovered emails show Meadows "repeatedly" pushing federal law enforcement to "investigate unfounded conspiracy theories."
In five emails sent during the last week of December and early January, Mr. Meadows asked Jeffrey A. Rosen, then the acting attorney general, to examine debunked claims of election fraud in New Mexico and an array of baseless conspiracies that held that Mr. Trump had been the actual victor. That included a fantastical theory that people in Italy had used military technology and satellites to remotely tamper with voting machines in the United States and switch votes for Mr. Trump to votes for Joseph R. Biden Jr.
There's nothing to suggest the then-acting attorney general followed through on any of the ridiculous tasks the then-White House chief of staff wanted to see.
But that doesn't make these new revelations any less extraordinary.
For one thing, the reporting sheds new light on just how spectacularly bonkers Team Trump became in the weeks following Joe Biden's victory. As the Times' article put it, Meadows' private efforts "veered into the realm of the outlandish." It stands to reason that Republicans are going to peddle tired nonsense about imagined fraud, but we're dealing with a different level of nuttiness when the White House chief of staff reaches out to the Justice Department, several times, inquiring about crackpot ideas regarding people in Italy using satellites to hack into our elections systems.
What's more, for all the weird whining from Republican senators about Democratic presidents politicizing federal law enforcement, these new revelations reinforce the fact that the Trump White House once again saw the Justice Department as an appendage to the then-president's political operation.
Trump, Meadows, and their cohorts sought desperately to undermine, and perhaps even nullify the results of their own country's election -- and they hoped to weaponize federal law enforcement to advance those goals.
Under normal circumstances, this would be a presidency-defining controversy in its own right.
And finally, it's amazing to step back and realize that, even now, we're still learning new details about the breadth of Trump-era scandals. There's no reason to assume the revelations will end anytime soon.