Recently released text messages between former President Donald Trump’s former chief of staff Mark Meadows and dozens of Republican members of Congress reveal the extent to which Trump’s inner circle sought to overturn the legitimate results of the 2020 presidential election.
According to reporting from Talking Points Memo, which obtained the messages in question, Meadows communicated with at least 34 Republicans in the weeks before and after the election certification on January 6, 2021, the day of the hours-long attack on the U.S. Capitol building by a mob of Trump loyalists. Meadows received 364 messages from the Republican lawmakers and sent 95 messages himself.
Meadows turned the texts over to the House select committee investigating the January 6 Capitol attack, Talking Points Memo reported. The website noted that the communications “shed new light on the extent of congressional involvement in Trump’s efforts to spread baseless conspiracy theories about his defeat and his attempts to reverse it.”
The Republicans who Meadows exchanged messages with include Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas), Rep. Jim Jordan (Ohio), Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (Georgia) and Rep. Mo Brooks (Alabama).
Some of the texts featured messages of encouragement. “Mark, When we lose Trump we lose our Republic,” wrote Rep. Brian Babin (R-Texas). “Fight like hell and find a way. We’re with you down here in Texas and refuse to live under a corrupt Marxist dictatorship.”
Others described strategies for thwarting the will of the electorate. Rep. Mark Green (R-Tennessee), for example, cited conservative commentator Dick Morris’s belief that state legislatures should convene and reassign states’ electors in key races that Trump lost.
“Dick Morris is saying State Leg can intervene and declare Trump winner,” Green wrote to Meadows. “NC, PA, MI, WI all have GOP Leg.”
Other Republicans, like Rep. Ralph Norman (South Carolina), suggested to Meadows that Trump should use his own authority as chief of the executive branch to assume power using undemocratic means.
“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!!” Norman wrote to Meadows. “Our LAST HOPE is invoking Marshall [sic] Law!! PLEASE URGE TO PRESIDENT TO DO SO.”
Notably, the message from Norman to Meadows was sent 11 days after the attack on the U.S. Capitol building.
Talking Points Memo reached out to Norman, requesting that he clarify his remarks. Norman asked the site to send him a copy of the text, saying “it’s been two years” since he sent it. After sending a copy, however, the publication said it “did not receive any further response from the congressman.”
Although martial law has been used a handful of times in U.S. history, its legal basis has not yet been determined.The Supreme Court, for instance, has never asserted that a president has the unilateral power to declare martial law without securing congressional authorization before doing so. Imposing martial law on the basis of losing a presidential election would have undoubtedly created a constitutional crisis on a level rivaled only by the Civil War.
The idea of imposing martial law had reportedly been discussed by Trump’s White House nearly a month prior to Norman’s text to Meadows. Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, had suggested the idea to the former president, according to reporting from The New York Times in December. Trump then presented the suggestion to his advisers in the Oval Office, who dismissed the idea.
Commentators and lawmakers condemned the Republicans who had strategized to overturn the election.
“Do not shrug this off,” tweeted Atlantic staff writer Tom Nichols. “A member of the Congress of the United States wanted the outgoing president to invoke martial law, and use the arms of the United States military to prevent the new president from taking office. Sedition.”
“The American people have a right to know the name of every elected official who plotted to overturn the results of the 2020 election on Jan 6 or impose martial law,” Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-New York) said. “The rot at the core of the far right runs deeper than Donald Trump.”