By Ryan Nobles, Zachary Cohen and Annie Grier | CNN
Two days after the 2020 presidential election, as the votes were being counted, Donald Trump’s eldest son Texted Mark Meadows, the then White House Chief of Staff With a Republican majority in the US Senate and swing state legislatures to ensure that “we have operational control” his father will get a second term, CNN has learned.
In the text, which has not previously been reported, Donald Trump Jr. presented ideas to keep his father in power by sabotaging the Electoral College process, according to a message reviewed by CNN. The text is one of the records obtained by the House Select Committee examining January 6, 2021.
“It’s too easy,” Trump Jr. texted Meadows on November 5, later adding in the same message: “We have many paths. We control them all.”
In a statement to CNN, Trump Jr.’s attorney Alan S. “After the election, Don received a number of messages from supporters and others. Judging by the date, this message probably came from someone else and was forwarded,” Futerfas said.
The text message from November 5 outlines a strategy that is almost identical to what the former president’s aides are trying to do in the coming months. Trump Jr. makes specific reference to some swing states filing lawsuits and advocacy to prevent them from certifying their results, as well as a handful of Republican state houses pushing a slate of fake “Trump voters” .
If all that fails, GOP lawmakers in Congress could vote to re-install Trump as president on January 6, according to the Trump Jr text.
“We have operational control total leverage,” reads the message. “The moral high ground POTUS must now begin a second term.”
Trump Jr.’s lesson is revealing on many levels. It shows those closest to the former president were already exchanging ideas on how to reverse the election in the months leading up to the January 6 uprising – and before all votes were even counted. It will be two more days before major news outlets declare Joe Biden the winner on November 7.
The text also adds to a growing body of evidence for how Trump’s inner circle was actively engaged in discussing how to challenge the election results.
On March 28, Judge David Carter, a federal judge in California, said that Trump, along with conservative lawyer John Eastman, launched an “unprecedented” campaign to overturn a Democratic election, calling it a “coup in search of legal principle”. .
George Terwilliger, an attorney for Meadows, declined to comment for this story. A spokesman for the House Select Committee declined to comment.
Trump campaign strategy foreshadowed
In the weeks following the 2020 election, Trump and his allies eventually filed more than 60 unsuccessful lawsuits in major states, failing to convince the courts that their claims about stolen elections were justified, or that there was widespread voter fraud. uncover any evidence.
He also called for various recalculations based on the same baseless voter fraud claims. Several states conducted recounts in the months following the election, although none of them disclosed enough fraud to alter the outcome of the vote in either state.
While Trump Jr. was publicly advancing various voter fraud conspiracy theories and generally skeptical about the consequences in states such as Pennsylvania and Georgia, his text to Meadows suggests that privately held onto other views. was being discussed.
Specifically, Trump Jr. previews strategy to convert authentic voters With Fake Republican Voters In a handful of states. That plan was eventually piloted and implemented by aides of the former president, and Supervised by his then-lawyer Rudy Giulianiec,
In his text to Meadows, Trump Jr. identifies two key dates in December that serve as deadlines for states to certify their election results and force Congress to accept them. Although the dates are largely formal, in his text Trump Jr. points to them as potential vulnerabilities that could be exploited by casting doubt on the legitimacy of the election results.
Trump looking for voters
Trump Jr.’s November 5 text to Meadows came as a similar perception of faithless voters began to spread publicly on conservative social media. Trump Jr. sent the text to Meadows at 12:51 a.m. minutes after conservative radio host Mark Levine tweeted a similar view and suggested that state legislatures have the final say on voters.
If the secretary of state was unable to certify the results, Trump Jr. argued in his text to Meadows that he should take advantage of him by “stepping in” Republican-controlled state legislatures and a separate slate of “Trump electors.” should be put in front. ,
“Republicans control Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, North Carolina, etc. We get Trump voters,” Trump Jr. says.
Trump Jr.’s text, however, refers to an untested legal principle that states have final authority in house elections and can intervene to advance a different slate of voters than those chosen by the electorate, when in fact In this it is a formal process and the result is essentially a foregone conclusion.
Department of Justice and House Committee Both are investigating the fake voter conspiracy What came out on January 6 and in the context of Trump’s widespread effort to reverse the election.
The strategy launched by Trump Jr. is similar to the one outlined by Rick Perry, former Texas governor and Trump Energy Secretary, who texted Meadows on November 4th Three state legislatures suggest they ignore the ire of their electorate and push their states’ voters to Trump.
“Here’s an aggressive (sic) strategy: why can the GA NC PENN and other R controlled state houses (sic) declare that it is BS (where the conflict and election are not called that night) and simply do their own Send U.S. voters to vote and have it go to SCOTUS,” Perry’s text message read.
A spokesman for Perry told CNN at the time that the former energy secretary denies having authored the text. However, several people who knew Rick Perry previously confirmed to CNN that the phone number the committee linked to that text message was Perry’s.
‘We control them all’
Trump Jr. also wrote to Meadows that Congress could intervene on January 6 and reverse the will of voters if, for some reason, they did enough to tip the result in Trump’s favor using a state-based strategy. were unable to secure electoral votes.
According to Trump Jr.’s text, that option includes a scenario where neither Biden nor Trump has enough electoral votes to declare a winner, prompting the House of Representatives to vote by a state party delegation. Each state gets one vote.
“Republicans Control 28 States Democrats Control 22 States,” Trump Jr. texts. “Once again Trump wins.”
“We either have a vote that we control and we win or it goes to Congress on January 6, 2021,” he wrote to Meadows.
In a series of memos in early January, conservative lawyer John Eastman proposed a variation of that idea,
Eastman’s memo laid out a six-step plan for Vice President Mike Pence to reverse Trump’s election, which included phasing out results in seven states because they allegedly had competing voters. In fact, no state had actually put forward an alternative slate of voters—the only ones were Trump allies claiming to be electors with no authority.
Eastman, who has been summoned by the House Select Committee and is fighting to keep some of his records secret from investigators, was accused by Carter of engaging in a criminal conspiracy with Trump to reverse the election.
“Dr. Eastman has an impeccable record as an attorney and respectfully disagrees with the judge’s findings,” his attorney, Charles Burnham, said in response to the judge’s ruling.
Trump Jr. prompts Meadows to fire Ray and install loyalists in the FBI
Trump Jr. ends his November 5th lesson call for personnel move To consolidate his father’s control over the government by putting loyalists into key jobs and launching an investigation into the Biden family.
“Fire Ray; Fire Fauci,” he texted, referring to FBI Director Christopher Wray and White House coronavirus adviser Anthony Fauci. Trump Jr. then proposed making former executive director of national intelligence Rick Grenell as interim chief of the FBI and Selected then-Attorney General Bill Barr as “special prosecutor from the Hale Biden crime family on harddrive.”
As Trump refused to obey in the days and weeks following the 2020 election, rumors spread that he, along with many still, was considering removing Ray. other top officials Which made him disappointed.
Trump and his allies sharp criticism For failing to present information that he claimed would be harmful to political enemies of the president, including Biden. CNN previously reported that Trump’s sacking of Ray likely rested on the FBI for weeks ahead of election day.
While Ray remains in his position and Barr resigned in mid-December 2020 without naming a special prosecutor to investigate the Bidens, Trump Jr.’s text underscores that the DOJ’s position shortly after the election How uncertain.
The same is true for Trump Jr.’s recommendation that Meadows replace Ray with Grenell, someone who lacked not only the usual qualifications to lead the FBI, but a proven track of bidding for the former president. The record was there.
After a controversial three-month stint as Trump’s acting intel chief, Grenell is in late 2020 to help fuel Trump’s unfounded claims of widespread voter fraud and support his legal challenges in a major swing state. Hit the campaign mark: Nevada.
On November 5, Biden held a slim lead over Trump in Nevada, but appeared poised to win the state’s six electoral votes. That same day, Grenell and Trump campaign officials announced they were filing a new lawsuit to “prevent illegal vote counting,” but provided no evidence to support their claims of massive fraud.