With more than a year of distance between us and the efforts of Donald Trump and his nebulous circle of allies and accomplices to undo his 2020 election defeat, we have reached a point where every new revelation about what was happening in the riotous behind-the-scenes is both shocking in detail, and utterly surprising as part of a larger, overwhelmingly obvious whole. Yes of Classes the White House was running a full court press to pressure the states to essentially return on its behalf – we all know the broad strokes of what was going on and we are now filling in the various details and links in this larger frame.
The same goes for CNN’s recently published slice of messages between Republican Utah Senator Mike Lee and Mark Meadows, the latest and most obsequious of Trump’s many chiefs of staff. In text after poorly worded text, Lee presses Meadows on Trump’s continued efforts to overturn the election results, showing an enthusiastic willingness to accept the scheme, while simultaneously worrying about the lack of hard evidence to support the effort.
In a message in the days immediately following the election, Lee asks Meadows to convey to Trump his “unequivocal support that you exhaust all legal and constitutional remedies available to you to restore Americans’ confidence in our elections.” .
In a later message, he tells Meadows that Trump-aligned attorney Sydney Powell of much-maligned ‘Kraken’ fame “says she has to come in to see the president, but she’s being kept away. of him. Apparently she has a strategy to keep things alive and bring multiple states back into play.”
“Can you help him get in?” He asked.
But just three days later, Lee began to have second thoughts, texting Meadows: “’I’m worried about Powell’s press conference. The president’s potential libel liability is significant here. For the campaign and for the president personally. Unless Powell can back up everything she said, which I kind of doubt she can.
This sense of futility only grew over time, with Lee texting Meadows on Nov. 20: “Please give me something to work with. I just need to know what I should say” and two days later reiterating “please tell me what I should say. There are a few of us in the Senate who want to be helpful (although I feel that number might decrease). »
That same day, Republican Congressman Chip Roy texted Meadows: “If we don’t get some logic and reason by 11/30, the GOP conference will fall apart (all but the guys Trump’s toughest. We need a controlled message ASAP. Roy also recommended Meadows speak to John Eastman, the ultra-conservative lawyer responsible for the Trump administration’s fraudulent legal effort to block Joe Biden’s voter certification.
As the texts show, the longer this effort stagnated, the more Lee and Roy began to express their private panic to Meadows. Just three days before the January 6 insurrection attempt, Lee texted Meadows that he had “serious concerns about how my friend Ted [presumably Texas Sen. Ted Cruz] goes on this effort.
He continued [emphasis mine]:
It will not benefit the president. Everything changes, of course, if swing states submit competing voter lists according to state law. But otherwise it might help people like Ted and Josh [presumably Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley] at the expense of DJT. I don’t think the chair understands the distinction between what we can do and what he would like us to do. I also don’t think he understands the distinction between what some members say that seems like it might help him, but would really hurt him. He has a very real opportunity to win in 2024. That opportunity could be compromised in a number of ways in this effort. Again, all of this could change if the states in question certify Trump voters according to state law. But in the absence of that, this effort is destined not just to fail, but to hurt DJT in the process.
Roy shared similar fears with Meadows on New Year’s Eve, texting that “the president should cancel everyone. It’s the only way. If we substitute the will of the states through the voters with a vote of Congress every 4 years… we have destroyed the Electoral College… Respectfully. Give a statesman’s speech. Finish strong.
He was even harsher in his prognosis the next day, telling Meadows that “if POTUS allows this to happen…we drive a stake through the heart of the federal republic…”
The cumulative narrative of Lee and Roy’s texts is clear: some of Trump’s most loyal supporters in Congress, once eager to support his efforts to reverse his election defeat, are clearly shown growing more dispirited and desperate as they realize how real these efforts have become. By placing the riotous cart in front of the solid, data-backed horse, it seems they have slowly begun to see not only the general dangers of allowing Trump to continue, but the acute personal risks they have taken on themselves. joining.
Notably, as Lee and Roy expressed growing frustrations with the Trump administration’s ex post facto efforts, the former president’s eldest son, Don Jr., was also sending Meadows his own delusional legal theories about how his father could still remain in office. “We have many paths. We control them all,” he insisted at one point.
All told, then, we are faced with the same dynamic that accompanies every previous revelation about the Trump administrations’ seditious pursuit of power: a shocking series of specific examples that highlight just how fractured and self-aware the effort was. itself, but which ultimately only reinforces the larger, indisputable fact that Donald Trump and his allies were deeply and shamelessly involved in the attempt to illegally overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. The only real question that remains is: will they really be held accountable?