WASHINGTON (AP) — Rioters who forced their way into the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021 succeeded — at least temporarily — in delaying certification of Joe Biden’s election to the White House.
A few hours earlier, Rep. Jim Jordan had tried to achieve the same thing.
Texting then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, a close ally and friend, around midnight January 5, Jordan offered legal justification for what President Donald Trump was publicly demanding – that Vice President Mike Pence, in his ceremonial role presiding over the electoral count, somehow asserts the power to reject voters from states won over by Biden.
Pence “should call all electoral votes he deems unconstitutional because no electoral votes at all,” Jordan wrote.
“I pushed for it,” Meadows replied. “Not sure that’s going to happen.”
The text exchange, in an April 22 court filing from the congressional panel investigating the January 6 riot, is part of a body of startling evidence that shows the deep involvement of some House Republicans in the desperate attempt of Trump to stay in power. A review of the evidence reveals new details about how, long before the attack on Capitol Hill unfolded, several GOP lawmakers were directly involved in Trump’s campaign to reverse the results of a free and fair election.
It’s a connection that members of the House Jan. 6 committee are making explicit as they prepare to launch public hearings in June. The Republicans plotting with Trump and the rioters who attacked the Capitol were aligned with their goals, if not the mob’s violent tactics, creating a convergence that nearly upended the nation’s peaceful transfer of power.
“It appears that a significant number of House members and a few senators played more than just a passing role in what happened,” Rep. Bennie Thompson, the Democratic chairman of the Jan. 6 committee, told AFP. the Associated Press last week.
Since launching its investigation last summer, the Jan. 6 panel has slowly obtained new details about what lawmakers said and did in the weeks leading up to the uprising. Members asked three GOP lawmakers — Jordan of Ohio, Representative Scott Perry of Pennsylvania and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California — to testify voluntarily. All refused. Other lawmakers could be called in the coming days.
So far, the January 6 committee has refrained from issuing subpoenas to lawmakers, fearing the repercussions of such an extraordinary step. But the lawmakers’ lack of cooperation didn’t stop the panel from getting new information about their actions.
The latest court document, submitted in response to a Meadows lawsuit, contained excerpts from a handful of the more than 930 interviews the Jan. 6 panel conducted. It includes information on several high-level meetings attended by nearly a dozen House Republicans where Trump allies flirted with ways to give him another term.
Among the ideas: naming fake voter lists in seven swing states, declaring martial law and seizing voting machines.
The efforts began weeks after the Associated Press declared Biden president-elect.
In early December 2020, several lawmakers attended a meeting in the White House attorney’s office where the president’s lawyers informed them that a plan to create an alternative list of voters declaring Trump the winner was not “legally valid”. One lawmaker, Rep. Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, pushed back against that position. So did GOP Representatives Matt Gaetz of Florida and Louie Gohmert of Texas, according to testimony from Cassidy Hutchinson, a former White House special aide to Trump.
Despite the attorney’s office’s warning, Trump’s allies pushed forward. On Dec. 14, 2020, as rightfully chosen Democratic voters in seven states — Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, New Mexico, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — gathered at their state government headquarters to cast their ballots, fake voters also gathered.
They declared themselves legitimate voters and submitted fake Electoral College certificates declaring Trump the real winner of the presidential election in their states.
These “substitute voters” certificates were then sent to Congress, where they were ignored.
The majority of lawmakers have since denied involvement in those efforts.
Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia told a hearing in April that she did not recall conversations she had with the White House or texts she sent to Meadows about Trump invoking the martial law.
Gohmert told AP he also had no recollection of being involved and was unsure if he could be of assistance to the committee’s investigation. Representative Jody Hice of Georgia played down his actions, saying it’s routine for members of the president’s party to walk in and out of the White House to talk about a number of topics. Hice is currently running for Secretary of State in Georgia, a position responsible for state elections.
Representative Andy Biggs of Arizona did not deny his public efforts to challenge the election results, but called recent reports of his deep involvement false.
In a statement Saturday, Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona reiterated his “serious” concerns about the 2020 election. “The Voter Count Act discussions were appropriate, necessary, and warranted,” he added. .
Requests for comment from other lawmakers were not immediately returned.
Less than a week later, after the meeting in early December at the White House, another plan emerged. In a meeting with members of the House Freedom Caucus and Trump White House officials, the discussion turned to the decisive action they thought Pence could take on Jan. 6.
Those present virtually and in person, according to committee testimony, were Hice, Biggs, Gosar, Representatives Perry, Gaetz, Jordan, Gohmert, Mo Brooks of Alabama, Debbie Lesko of Arizona and Greene, then elected to the Congress.
“How was the conversation?” the committee asked Hutchinson, who was frequently present at meetings that took place in December 2020 and January 2021.
“They felt he had the power to, forgive me if I’m not wording it correctly on this, but – return the votes to the states or the voters to the states,” Hutchinson said, referring to Pence.
When asked if any of the lawmakers disagreed with the idea that the vice president had such authority, Hutchinson said there was no objection from none of the Republican lawmakers.
In another meeting about Pence’s potential role, Trump lawyers Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell and Jenna Ellis were joined again by Perry and Jordan as well as Greene and Lauren Boebert, a Republican who was also just elected. in the Colorado House.
Communication between lawmakers and the White House did not cease as Jan. 6 approached. On Boxing Day, Perry texted Meadows with a countdown.
“11 days to 1/6 and 25 days to inauguration,” reads the text. “We have to go!” Perry urged Meadows to call Jeffrey Clark, an assistant attorney general who has championed Trump’s efforts to challenge the election results. Perry has acknowledged introducing Clark to Trump.
Clark clashed with Justice Department superiors over his plan to send a letter to Georgia and other battleground states questioning the election results and urging their state legislatures to investigate. It all culminated in a dramatic White House meeting in which Trump considered elevating Clark to attorney general, only to back down after top Justice Department officials made it clear they would step down.
Pressure from lawmakers and the White House on the Justice Department is among several areas of inquiry in the Jan. 6 probe. Representative Jamie Raskin, a Democratic panel member from Maryland, hinted that there were more revelations to come.
“As the mob smashed our windows, bloodied our police and stormed the Capitol, Trump and his accomplices plotted to destroy Biden’s majority in the Electoral College and overthrow our constitutional order,” Raskin tweeted last week.
When the results of the panel’s investigation come out, Raskin predicted, “America will see how coup and insurgency have converged.