Once the smoke had cleared from the January 6 Trump-inspired insurrection at the Capitol Building, the question of the hour became, “Who was in on it?” A review of more than 2,300 text messages obtained by CNN from former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows leaves one asking, “Who wasn’t?”
As the mayhem unfolded on 1/6, the texts to and from these Trump loyalists begin to sound like they were all pretending to watch an adult film for the first time: “Golly, I didn’t think it would end like That!” Ersatz innocence in the digital age. It is both hilarious and terrifying at the same time.
The following is a list of text correspondents who were contacted or contacted Meadows in the days preceding, during, and afterwards the attack: Donald Trump Jr., Mick Mulvaney. Reince Priebus. Hope Hicks. Ivanka Trump. Mark Schlapp. Jared Kushner. Bill Stepien. Dan Scavino. Rick Perry. Ginni Tom, Bernie Kerik. Katrina Pierson. Mike Lindell. Rep. Scott Perry. Rep. Brian Babin. Marjorie Taylor Greene. William Timmons. Andrew Clyde.
It is difficult to miss the tone of pre-riot messages that convey a sense of fear and dread. One text sent on 11/4 by Mark Schlapp, who made his bones by organizing the “Brooks Brother’s Riot” in Florida during the 2000 recount, sounds as if he was all ready to leap back into that role: “Pls get 4 or 5 killers in remaining counts. Need outsiders who will torch the place.”
Trump senior adviser Jason Miller on 11/13: “Emailed you Dominion backgrounder. Lots there re: functionality problems, not much there on Dem/Soros conspiracy connections.”
Ginni Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, on 11/22: “Trying to understand the Sidney Powell distancing….”
Mike “Pillow Guy” Lindell on 12/20: “Everything Sidney has said is true! We must get the machines, and all evidence that we have already proves that the President won by millions! I have read and not validated yet that you and others talked him out of seizing them…. If true … I pray it is part of a bigger plan…”
Rep. Scott Perry on 12/26: “Mark, you should call Jeff [Clark]. I just got off the phone with him and he explained to me why the principal deputy won’t work especially with the FBI. They will view it as as not having the authority to enforce what needs to be done.”
Trump campaign spokesperson Katrina Pierson on 1/2/2021: “Good afternoon, would you mind giving me a call re: this Jan 6th event. Things have become very chaotic and I need direction. Please”
Rep. Jim Jordan on 1/5/2021, the day before the riot: “On January 6, 2021, Vice President Mike Pence, as President of the Senate, should call out all electoral votes that he believes are unconstitutional as no electoral votes at all — in accordance with guidance from founding father Alexander Hamilton and judicial precedence.”
And then it hit the fan.
Mick Mulvaney, 1/6: “Mark: he needs to stop this, now. Can I do anything to help?”
Rep. Barry Loudermilk, 1/6: “It’s really bad up here on the hill.”
Rep. William Timmons, 1/6: “The president needs to stop this ASAP”
Donald Trump Jr., 1/6: “He’s got to condem this shit. Asap. The tweet from the captiol cops is not enough. This is his one to go to the mattresses on. They will try to fuck his entire legacy on this if it gets worse.”
Reince Priebus, 1/6: “TELL THEM TO GO HOME !!!”
These people are who they are. The instinct to fight back, even if the only weapon is a rubber wrench, is a defining characteristic. Beginning with Jason Miller and then followed up by Greene and Gohmert, the closing hours of 1/6 saw the formulation of the laughable “It was Antifa!” pushback plan right there in Meadows’s text feed:
Miller: “Call me crazy, but ideas for two tweets from POTUS: 1) Bad apples, likely ANTIFA or other crazed leftists, infiltrated today’s peaceful protest over the fraudulent vote count. Violence is not acceptable! MAGA supporters should embrace our police force and the rule of the law and should leave the Capitol immediately! 2) The fake news media who encouraged this summer’s violent and radical riots are now trying to blame peaceful and innocent MAGA supporters for violent actions.”
Greene: “Mark we don’t think these attackers are our people. We believe they are Antifa. Dressed like Trump supporters.”
Gohmert: “Cap Police told me last night they’d been warned that today there’d be a lot of Antifa dressed in red Trump shirts & hats & would likely get violent. Good that Trump denounces violence but could add & well demand justice for those who became violent & well get to the bottom of what group they’re with.”
There are few messages in the Meadows Tranche. more disturbing than one from Greene, dated 1/17/21: “In our private chat with only Members, several are saying the only way to save our Republic is for Trump to call for Marshall law. I don’t know on those things. I just wanted to tell him. They stole this election. We all know. They will next destroy our country. Please tell him to declassify as much as possible so we can go after Biden and anyone else!”
The term, for the record, is “martial law.” It means the military takes over the country under the command of the president, who would be Trump for the next three days.
You can’t have such dark, gloomy days without some humor. Meadows was contacted by Sean Hannity on 1/19. Twitter video link of Mitch McConnell denouncing the 1/6 attack: “The mob was fed lies. They were provoked by the president and other powerful people, and they tried to use fear and violence to stop a specific proceeding of the first branch of the federal government which they did not like.”
Hannity’s one-line commentary: “Well this is as bad as this can get.”
No, Sean, “as bad as this can get” will arrive when this calamity graduates to public hearings in Congress, hopefully over a long hot summer.