In the months before the 2020 election, lies about widespread voter fraud steadily spewed from former President Donald Trump’s lips and fingertips like so much sewage from a busted septic line. But among a tranche of text messages obtained by the January 6 select committee, a disturbing light shines anew upon the actions of Trump’s most loyal foot soldiers in Congress: One of them was so eager to have the 45th president installed that they suggested tossing out legal votes well before the counting of votes was even complete.
“Here’s an aggressive strategy,” the November 4 text from an unidentified lawmaker to Trump’s then-Chief of Staff Mark Meadows began. “Why can’t the states of GA, NC, PENN and other R-controlled state houses declare this is BS [where conflicts and election not called that night] and just send their own electors to vote and have it go to SCOTUS.”
This, put simply, was a proposed strategy to directly undermine the will of American voters. And when Trump’s staff was presented with a similar plot a second time, there was no rush to outrage at the unethical, unprincipled unconstitutionality of it all. Instead, the strategy was welcomed with a warm embrace and three simple words.
Politico reporter Kyle Cheney pointed out this disturbing dynamic in a tweet on Tuesday night as lawmakers convened in the House to vote on a contempt of Congress referral for Meadows.
Don't think this one has fully sunk in yet: A member of Congress suggested that GOP-controlled states anoint Trump electors **before those states were even called.** \n\nThis wasn't overturning the election. This was scrapping democracy before the votes were even counted.pic.twitter.com/gzf89U52jD— Kyle Cheney (@Kyle Cheney) 1639531493
Select committee Chairman Bennie Thompson has not yet revealed the identity of the person who sent the proposal to Meadows, but he told NBC News this week that there “won’t be any surprises as to who they are.”
As Kyle Cheney opined, once the person is unmasked, it will likely be time to reconcile “his or her claims of concern about voter fraud with the proposal to throw out millions of legal votes before they were even counted.”
This hypocrisy is familiar to Republicans in Trump’s orbit. One-time personal attorney for Trump Rudy Giuliani notoriously went full autocrat during a drunken exchange on election night, according to Washington Post reporters Carol Leonning and Philip Rucker in their book, I Alone Can Fix It: Donald J. Trump’s Catastrophic Final Year.
When it looked like Trump was losing Michigan, Giuliani urged Trump’s campaign staff and Meadows to just say that Trump had won. Meadows, at the time, reportedly said such a maneuver couldn’t be done.
“We can’t do that, we can’t,” Meadows said on November 4.
But by November 6, his tune had changed.
According to records already obtained by the committee, Thompson said that when a legislator in Congress approached Meadows this time with the “highly controversial” scheme to appoint alternate electors despite a total lack of evidence for election fraud, Meadows responded: “I love it.”
And a day later on November 7, after Biden was formally declared the victor, Meadows would write an email that Thompson said “discusses the appointment of alternate slates of electors as a part of a direct and collateral attack after the election.”
This sequence of events alone paints one of the clearest pictures yet of how the White House condoned lies about the 2020 election and was on board with attempts to subvert the results, consequences be damned.
Further illuminating the committee’s findings was Republican Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, one of Trump’s most loyal lapdogs during his presidency.
Politico was first to report Wednesday that Jordan is defending a portion of another text message unveiled by the committee a day earlier. The part of the message made public stated: “On January 6, 2021, Vice President Mike Pence, as President of the Senate, should call out all the electoral votes that he believes are unconstitutional as no electoral votes at all.”
The full text continued: “In accordance with guidance from founding father Alexander Hamilton and judicial precedence. ‘No legislative act,’ wrote Alexander Hamilton in Federalist No. 78, ‘contrary to the Constitution, can be valid.’ The court in Hubbard v. Lowe reinforced this truth: ‘That an unconstitutional statute is not a law at all is a proposition no longer open to discussion.’ 226 F. 135, 137 (SDNY 1915), appeal dismissed, 242 U.S. 654 (1916).”
Russell Dye, a spokesperson for Jordan, told Politico that the message from Jordan was merely a forward to Meadows of legal analysis compiled by Joseph Schmitz, the Pentagon’s former inspector general.
“Schmitz's words are an argument that Pence had the unilateral authority to simply refuse to count electoral votes he deemed unconstitutional, akin to arguments made by Trump allies John Eastman and Jenna Ellis,” Politico reported.
Though Jordan maintains the message was a forward, the text itself does not necessarily indicate that.
Meanwhile, as Meadows awaits his fate on contempt charges that have now been referred to the Department of Justice and the mystery lawmaker’s messages are in the public square courtesy of the select committee, two key organizers for Trump’s “Stop the Steal” propaganda, Dustin Stockton and Jennifer Lynn Lawrence, have also stepped into the light.
Both Stockton and Lawrence were subpoenaed by the committee in late November. A month prior to that, the duo served as anonymous sources for another Rolling Stone article where they claimed that members of Congress were directly involved in Trump’s scheme to overturn the election and helped orchestrate the rally at the Ellipse on January 6.
Stockton and Lawrence told Rolling Stone that Arizona Republican Rep. Paul Gosar offered a tit-for-tat deal, telling the couple they could receive a “blanket pardon” from Trump in another unrelated investigation if they would protest the election results. Gosar has denied the exchange.
The couple also said they had warned Meadows that their discussions with organizers of the pro-Trump rallies in the runup to Jan. 6 left them worried about looming threats of violence.
“The people and the history books deserve a real account of what happened,” Stockton told Rolling Stone.
Lawrence added: “Violent shit happened. We want to get to the bottom of that.”
Importantly, the couple also admits they are running low on funds and don’t have the ability to fend off a hungry congressional probe that has shown it will go the distance to hold those who refuse to cooperate in contempt. They had a self-proclaimed “falling out” with ex-Trump strategist Steve Bannon following Bannon’s We Build the Wall fraud scheme, which led to his arrest and later, to his pardon by Trump. Stockton and Lawrence were raided in connection to that scheme but were never charged.
“We definitely didn’t want to face another violent raid and we also wanted to avoid racking up even more legal fees and trouble,” the couple told Rolling Stone.
The duo admitted to working with other commission probe targets, like Amy Kremer of Women for America First, to coordinate rallies promoting Trump’s lies about election fraud in mid-November, but in the recent interview, Stockton said Trump’s incitements on Jan. 6 incensed him.
“We assumed that him sitting with all the access to all the agencies of government and classified information he … had access to vastly more information than we did,” Stockton told Rolling Stone. “We trusted when he told us that it was black-and-white and that there was clear evidence over, and over, and over again. We trusted that it would be there, and it ended up being a bluff, and he finally got caught in it.”
Now the couple says they are “going nuclear” and are cooperating with the committee in full to expose everyone who was involved.
Unsurprisingly, other individuals also under subpoena by the committee are less keen on transparency.
John Eastman, the author of the now-infamous memo outlining a six-point strategy to overturn the 2020 election, has opted to sue the committee. Eastman argues that lawmakers went too far by demanding he turn over data from a three-month span, and he contends the committee does not have a legislative function. Meadows also sued the committee and Verizon last week as well as Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. Meadows is asking a federal court to bar enforcement of the subpoena lobbed against him and the requests sent by the committee to Verizon.
The committee has targeted call records for over 100 people but significantly, they are not after the content of calls. They seek only time logs that would reveal details like when calls are made and their duration.
Reprinted with permission from DailyKos