In the previously unreported text, Donald Trump Jr. lays out ideas to keep his father in power by disrupting the Electoral College process, according to the message reviewed by CNN. The text is among the records obtained by the House select committee investigating on January 6, 2021.
“It’s very simple,” Trump Jr. texted Meadows on Nov. 5, adding later in the same letter: “We have multiple paths, we control them all.”
In a statement to CNN, Trump Jr.’s attorney, Alan S. Futerfas, said: “After the election, Don received numerous messages from supporters and others. Given the date, this message likely originated from someone else and was forwarded”.
The November 5 text message outlines a strategy that is almost identical to the one that the former president’s allies tried to carry out in the following months. Trump Jr. specifically references filing lawsuits and promoting recounts to prevent certain swing states from certifying their results, as well as a handful of Republican state chambers submitting lists of bogus “Trump electors.”
If all else fails, under Trump Jr.’s text, Republican lawmakers in Congress could simply vote to reinstate Trump as president on Jan. 6.
“We have full leverage operating control,” the message reads. “Moral High Ground POTUS must start second term now.”
Trump Jr.’s text is revealing on several levels. It shows how those closest to the former president were already exchanging ideas on how to overturn the election months before the January 6 insurrection, and even before all the votes were counted. It would be another two days before the mainstream media declared Joe Biden the winner on November 7.
The text also adds to a growing body of evidence of how Trump’s inner circle was actively involved in discussing how to challenge the election results.
On March 28, Judge David Carter, a California federal judge, said Trump, along with conservative attorney John Eastman, had launched an “unprecedented” campaign to nullify a Democratic election, calling it a “coup in search of a theory.” legal”.
Meadows attorney George Terwilliger declined to comment for this story. A House select committee spokesman declined to comment.
Foreshadowing of Trump’s campaign strategy
In the weeks after the 2020 election, Trump and his allies eventually filed more than 60 unsuccessful lawsuits in key battleground states, failing to convince the courts that his claims of a stolen election were justified, or uncovering any evidence of voter fraud. widespread.
They also called for several recounts based on those same unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud. Several states conducted recounts in the months after the election, though none of them revealed any fraud substantial enough to have changed the outcome of the vote in any state.
While Trump Jr. publicly pushed various voter fraud conspiracy theories and generally cast doubt on the results in states like Pennsylvania and Georgia, his text message to Meadows reveals other ideas were being discussed privately.
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 ceremonial, in his text Trump Jr. seems to point to them as possible weaknesses that can be exploited to cast doubt on the legitimacy of the election results.
Looking for Trump voters
Trump Jr.’s Nov. 5 text message to Meadows came as similar notions of cheating voters were beginning to leak publicly on conservative social media. Trump Jr. sent the text message to Meadows at 12:51 p.m., minutes after conservative radio host Mark Levin tweeted a similar idea and suggested that state legislatures have the last word on voters.
If the secretaries of state were unable to certify the results, Trump Jr. argues in his text to Meadows that they should press their advantage by having Republican-controlled state caucuses “step in” and submit separate lists of “Trump electors,” he writes. .
“The Republicans control Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, North Carolina, etc., we have Trump voters,” adds Trump Jr.
Trump Jr.’s text, however, refers to an unproven legal theory that the state chambers are the ultimate authority in elections and can intervene to present a list of electors different from the one chosen by the voters, when in fact It is a ceremonial process. and the result is essentially a foregone conclusion.
“HERE is an AGGRESSIVE STRATEGY (sic): Why can’t (sic) GA NC PENN states and other R controlled state houses declare this to be BS (where conflicts and elections were not called that night) and just send your own constituents to vote and go to SCOTUS,” Perry’s text message read.
A spokesperson for Perry told CNN at the time that the former energy secretary denies authoring the text. However, multiple people who know Rick Perry previously confirmed to CNN that the phone number the committee has associated with that text message is Perry’s number.
‘We control them all’
Trump Jr. also texts Meadows telling him that Congress could step in on January 6 and override the will of the voters if, for some reason, they couldn’t get enough electoral votes to tip the result in Trump’s favor using state-based strategy.
That option, according to Trump Jr.’s text, implies a scenario in which neither Biden nor Trump has enough electoral votes to be declared the winner, leading the House to vote by state party delegation, with each state getting a vote.
“Republicans control 28 states, Democrats 22 states,” Trump Jr. writes. “Once again Trump wins.”
“Either we have a vote that WE control and WE win OR it is sent to Congress on January 6, 2021,” he texts Meadows.
Eastman’s memo laid out a six-step plan for Vice President Mike Pence to overturn Trump’s election, which included throwing out the results in seven states because they allegedly had competing voters. In fact, no state had submitted an alternative list of voters: there were only Trump allies who claimed to be voters without any authority.
Eastman, who has been subpoenaed by the House select committee and is fighting to keep some of his records secret from investigators, was accused by Carter of likely participating in a criminal conspiracy with Trump to nullify the election.
“Dr. Eastman has an unblemished 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. Presses Meadows to Fire Wray and Install FBI Loyalist
“Fire Wray; Fire Fauci,” he texts, referring to FBI Director Christopher Wray and White House coronavirus adviser Anthony Fauci. Trump Jr. then proposes that former acting Director of National Intelligence Ric Grenell be acting head of the FBI and that then-Attorney General Bill Barr “select the special counsel in the HardDrivefromHell Biden crime family.”
While Wray remains in his post and Barr resigned in mid-December 2020 without appointing a special prosecutor to investigate the Bidens, Trump Jr.’s text underscores how precarious things were at the Justice Department in the immediate aftermath of the election.
The same is true of Trump Jr.’s recommendation that Meadows replace Wray with Grenell, someone who not only lacked the usual qualifications to run the FBI, but also had a proven track record of carrying out the former president’s orders.
After serving a controversial three-month stint as Trump’s interim intelligence chief, Grenell kicked off the campaign trail in late 2020 to help promote Trump’s baseless claims of widespread voter fraud and back his legal challenges in a battleground state: Nevada.
On November 5, Biden had a slight lead over Trump in Nevada, but appeared poised to win all six of the state’s electoral votes. That same day, Grenell and Trump campaign officials announced they would file a new lawsuit to “stop illegal vote counting” but provided no evidence to support their claims of rampant fraud.
CNN’s Tara Subramaniam contributed to this report.