Mark Meadows is a liar—at least by omission. And newly revealed text messages prove it.
In 2021, the former White House chief of staff for Donald Trump released a book, The Chief’s Chief, which offered a sycophantic account of his tenure serving the reality-TV-star-turned-president. It made little news because it provided little news. In the book, Meadows fawns over Dear Leader. He blames Trump’s 2020 loss on Fox News’ less-than-enthusiastic coverage of Trump, other purported media conspiracies, and massive fraud. Of course, he cites no confirmed instances of significant voter fraud. But he insists it was clear Trump won. “I knew he didn’t lose,” he writes. How? Well, because of all the “palpable” excitement at the Trump rallies and the “feeling I got during the final days of President Trump’s campaign.” Alrighty, then. But there’s more: “If you looked at the social media traffic from that night—which, I did, constantly—there was no doubt about it: President Trump was going to be reelected by a healthy margin.” Talk about reality bias.
No savvy reader would expect Meadows to present an honest and accurate depiction of what transpired in the weeks after the election and on January 6. But he strives mightily to provide a phony recounting. He cites debunked allegations of fraud and claims the Democrats and the liberal media had plotted for years to set up a pretext in which Trump’s assertions of fraud could be dismissed as conspiracy theory nonsense and labeled “crazy” or “paranoid.” He calls this the “long con.” In Meadows’ telling, Trump and his attorneys merely engaged in legitimate court challenges to “uphold the Democratic process.” (Meadows mistakenly capitalizes “democratic.”) The problem, apparently, was that the courts, including the Supreme Court, didn’t have the guts to support these challenges. And then Trump, on January 6, simply made a farewell address to his followers that “did not call for violence,” and afterward he left the stage, informing Meadows he had no intention to head to the Capitol himself. When moments earlier he had told his loyalists that he would march with them toward Congress, Trump “had been speaking metaphorically.” (According to testimony provided to the House January 6 committee, Trump was intent on leading the throng and even got into a physical altercation with a Secret Service agent who would not allow him to do so.) Meadows shares not a single detail about his or Trump’s actions—or inaction—during the ensuing riot.
Meadows was peddling disinformation. His book says nothing about Trump’s multiple efforts after Election Day to overturn the results. Missing from these pages: Trump pressuring Georgia election officials to “find” him enough votes to win that state (an effort in which Meadows participated); the fake electors scheme; Trump’s attempt to force the Justice Department to declare the election corrupt; the crazy conspiracy nutters who met with Trump and pushed him to seize voting machines; Trump muscling his vice president to block the certification of Joe Biden’s victory; Trump’s refusal to take steps to quell the January 6 riot; and much more.
Also missing: any mention of the hundreds of text messages Meadows received from Republican elected officials and conservatives who pled with him to take drastic—and perhaps illegal—steps to undo the election results.
This week, Talking Points Memo revealed a trove of thousands of text messages Meadows received and sent during the post-election period. Some of Meadows’ text messages had already been made public; many had not—particularly those in this set of messages that flowed to and from Republican members of Congress. A notable one was a text Rep. Ralph Norman (R-S.C.) zapped to Meadows on January 17, 2021, that cited a bonkers conspiracy theory about Dominion Voting Systems rigging the election and declared, “Our LAST HOPE is invoking Marshall Law!! PLEASE URGE TO PRESIDENT TO DO SO!!” (Norman misspelled “martial” law.)
A House member urging Trump to impose martial law—Meadows saw no reason to mention that in his book.
As Talking Points Memo reports, “Meadows received at least 364 messages from Republican members of Congress who discussed attempts to reverse the election results with him. He sent at least 95 messages of his own… The members who messaged Meadows about challenging the election included some of the highest-profile figures on the right flank in Congress, such as Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), and Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL), all of whom are identified as playing leading roles in the effort to undo Trump’s defeat.” One dramatic message came from Rep. Brian Babin (R-Tex.) on November 6, three days after the election: “Mark, When we lose Trump we lose our Republic. Fight like hell and find a way. We’re with you down here in Texas and refuse to live under a corrupt Marxist dictatorship. Liberty!”
Throughout the post-election months, Meadows received multiple texts from Republican officials sharing crazy and baseless ideas about the election and extreme proposals for keeping Trump in office. Rep. Ted Budd (R-N.C.) texted Meadows a message saying there were links between Dominion and billionaire George Soros. Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) shared with Meadows an unfounded election conspiracy theory that originated with Alex Jones, the notorious conspiracy-monger.
Meadows didn’t discourage any of this.
As Republican legislators schemed to thwart the congressional certification of the electoral college votes for Biden, they kept in close contact with Meadows, a former House member. He encouraged Republican legislators who told him they were trying to stop the certification. The text messages show he met with these officials and that this GOP effort to undermine the election was supported by right-wing dark money groups, including the Conservative Partnership Institute, which hired Meadows after Trump left office. At one point, Jordan texted him that Vice President Mike Pence should disqualify electoral votes from key states to prevent a certification of Biden’s victory, and Meadows replied, “I have pushed for this. Not sure it is going to happen.”
For some reason, Meadows did not share any of this with the readers of his book, not the GOP legislators’ endeavors to defy the election results nor his own role in this and other attempts to keep Trump in power. These texts, as well as testimony given to the House January 6 committee, confirm that he was in the center of the storm throughout these turbulent weeks and on January 6. Yet his memoir essentially says, nothing to see. The texts not only illuminate the Republican assault on the 2020 election that Meadows was part of; they reveal his own profound mendacity.