WASHINGTON. Less than two weeks before President Donald Trump’s most staunch congressional allies got what they saw as their last chance to cancel the 2020 election, Pennsylvania Republican Scott Perry’s anxiety was rising.
“Time keeps ticking,” he wrote in a text message to Mark Meadows, then White House chief of staff, adding, “11 days to 1/6 and 25 days to inauguration. We have to go!”
For more than a year now, it has become clear that ultra-conservative members of Congress have been deeply involved in trying to keep Trump in office: they joined in baseless lawsuits, spread lies about widespread election fraud, and were among the 147 Republicans who voted on January 1st. September 6, 2021 against confirmation of President Biden’s victory in at least one state.
But in a lawsuit and in text messages received by CNNNew evidence has surfaced in recent days that suggests the extent of their involvement in strategic Trump White House meetings, at least one of which included a discussion of encouraging Mr. Trump’s supporters to march on the Capitol on January 6 despite warnings of possible violence. Some continued to push for Trump to remain in office even after a mob of his supporters attacked the complex.
“In our private chat with members only, some say the only way to save our Republic is to call Trump for the Marshall Act,” Georgia Republican Representative Majori Taylor Green wrote to Mr. Meadows on January 17, 2021. typo in the word “military”.
The revelations highlight how ardent allies of Mr. Trump in Congress have been involved in efforts to cancel the election on multiple fronts, including a scheme to appoint Trump supporters as electors from states won by Mr. Biden, even after being told of such a plan. was illegal — and how they devised a strategy to get their fellow lawmakers to agree.
The bogus electoral scheme, the issue of how demonstrators at Mr. Trump’s rally on the Ellipse on Jan. 6 were directed to the Capitol, and the conspiracy in the White House and on Capitol Hill over Vice President Mike Pence’s ability to block or delay Certification of the results underlie not not only the House Select Committee investigation on January 6, but also the expanding criminal investigation being conducted by the Department of Justice.
“If there was a level of coordination that was designed not only to exercise First Amendment rights, but also to interfere with Congress because it certified the vote count, then we would be in a completely different universe,” said Joyce Vance, a law professor. at the University of Alabama and former US Attorney. “There is a difference between a rally and a protest, and also an attempt to prevent a smooth transfer of power.”
Cassidy Hutchinson, a former aide to Mr. Meadows, told a House committee that she recalled at least 11 members of Congress who were involved in discussions with White House officials about canceling the election, including plans to pressure Mr. Pence to rejected the electoral votes. from states won by Mr. Biden.
She said that among the members of Congress who participated in discussions on various issues were Mr. Perry; Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio; Representatives Andy Biggs, Paul Gosar and Debbie Lesko of Arizona; Representative Mo Brooks of Alabama; Rep. Matt Goetz of Florida; Rep. Jody Hayes and Ms. Green of Georgia; Representative Louis Gomert of Texas; and Representative Lauren Bobert of Colorado.
“They felt he had the authority to—forgive me if my wording is wrong—but to send votes back to the states or voters back to the states,” Ms Hutchinson testified, adding that they seemed to accept the plan. put forward by conservative lawyer John Eastman, which was compared by members of both parties to a plan for a coup d’état.
Ms. Hutchinson said Mr. Perry, Mr. Goetz and Mr. Gomert were present when White House lawyers told the group that the plan to use so-called alternate voters was not “legally sound” but that Mr. Meadows allowed him to move forward nonetheless.
The text messages show that Mr. Biggs embraced the plan early on, writing to Mr. Meadows on Nov. 6 that while it was “extremely controversial, it couldn’t be much more controversial than the madness that’s sitting there right now.”
Mr. Jordan continued to push the strategy through, sending a message to Mr. Meadows on Jan. 5: “Vice President Mike Pence, as chairman of the Senate, must declare all electoral votes he deems unconstitutional, as votes at all.”
Jordan criticized the January 6 committee for publishing only a partial version of this text, which does not clarify he was redirecting legal advice from a conservative lawyer.
Ms. Hutchinson also testified that in one of the discussions, Mr. Perry, who now leads the right-wing Freedom Caucus in the House of Representatives, supported the idea of encouraging supporters to march to the Capitol, and that no one present objected to the proposal. She made it clear that members of Congress “tend to follow the White House’s lead” about directing crowds to the Capitol.
Some Republican members of Congress have agreed to speak at rallies outside the building to further encourage disruption of the peaceful transfer of power.
According to the permit application, Mr. Brooks and Mr. Biggs — both members of the Freedom Caucus — were scheduled to speak on January 6 at a rally scheduled for the east side of the Capitol by prominent Stop Theft organizer Ali Alexander. The Dec. 21, 2020 statement noted that the “KP” – or members of Congress – were “confirmed.”
Less than 10 days later, according to the permit application, Mr. Alexander submitted an expanded list of speakers that included more far-right members of Congress, including Mr. Gosar, Ms. Bobert, and Ms. Green, who formally took office on January 3, 2021. None of these speakers actually showed up for the event, which never took place due to the violence that broke out in the Capitol.
However, Mr. Brooks did appear at a public event on Jan. 6, speaking at Mr. Trump’s Ellipse event near the White House wearing a bulletproof vest under a black and yellow jacket.
“Today is the day American patriots start swearing names and kicking ass,” Mr. Brooks told a huge crowd of Mr. Trump supporters, adding, “Are you ready to do your best to fight for America?”
Conservative members of Congress have also stepped up Mr. Trump’s efforts to fight the election results, echoing his aggressive stance on social media and in television interviews.
Capitol Riot Aftermath: Key Events
For example, on Dec. 19, Ms. Green, who has yet to be officially sworn in, posted a tweet confirming Mr. Trump’s call, made just hours earlier, for people to gather in Washington on Jan. 6 for a “wild” protest.
“I’m also planning something on January 6,” Ms. Green wrote, referring to a news article about Mr. Trump’s remarks.
The next day, Ms. Green posted another tweet urging her followers to “KEEP THE LINE January 6th.”
She attached the hashtag “#FightforTrump” to the post.
On January 5, Mr. Goetz appeared on Fox News and spoke of the plan for “tens of thousands of people who could potentially take to the streets of Washington, D.C. tomorrow.”
On the morning of January 6, Ms. Bobert took to Twitter and posted a message saying, “Today is 1776.” The Revolutionary War reference was repeated throughout the day by rally organizers and members of the crowd that stormed the Capitol.
Mr. Gosar also took to Twitter that day, writing that Mr. Biden should give in and suggesting that he could take action if Mr. Biden did not agree.
“I want his concession on my desk tomorrow morning,” Mr. Gosar wrote. Don’t make me come there.
However, once they were at the center of the chaos in the Capitol, some of those members of Congress who most actively supported Mr. Trump’s attempts to go to any lengths to cancel the election called on Mr. Meadows to plead with the president to stand up for the mob and stop the violence.
“Mark, I was just told that there is an active shooter on the first floor of the Capitol,” Ms. Green wrote in a message to Mr. Meadows, even as the building was being stormed. “Please tell the President to reassure the people. It’s not the way to solve anything.”
They also quickly turned to a new lie: the Capitol was stormed not by Trump supporters, but by left-wing activists posing as them.
Late that afternoon, Miss Green wrote to Mr. Meadows again, this time writing, “Mark, we don’t think the attackers are our people. We think they are Antifa. Dressed like Trump supporters.”
A few minutes later, Mr. Gomert also wrote to Mr. Meadows, echoing this sentiment.
“Cap police told me last night that they were warned that there would be a lot of anti-fascists today wearing red shirts and Trump hats and they were likely to become aggressive,” Mr. Gomert said.