Hundreds of newly revealed text messages proposing strategies to overturn the 2020 presidential election that were turned over to the House Jan. 6 committee by Donald Trump’s former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows are now clarifying his alleged role in the effort, according to The Guardian.
Many of these exchanges, which included Cabinet officials, Republican members of Congress and a former U.S. attorney, were published for the first time Tuesday in “The Breach,” a book by Denver Riggleman, a onetime congressman and former senior technical adviser to the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack.
Riggleman stopped working for the committee in April but appeared on “60 Minutes” this week to detail what he’d found. An ex-military intelligence officer, he described the more than 2,000 text messages to and from Meadows as a “road map to an attempted coup.”
Phil Waldron, a retired Army colonel and early proponent of 2020 election conspiracy theories, texted Meadows on Dec. 23, 2020, about “delay tactics” and even sent Meadows a PowerPoint presentation titled, “Options for 6 Jan,” according to CNN. He also drafted the language for an executive order that would have allowed the Pentagon to seize voting machines, though Trump never signed it.
Some texts suggested members from all three branches of government were involved. Within minutes of President Joe Biden being elected, Rick Perry, Trump’s former energy secretary, texted Meadows, then-Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson and then-Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue.
“POTUS line should be: Biden says hes president. America will see what big data says,” wrote Perry. “This sets the stage for what we’re about to prove.”
Riggleman told “60 Minutes” his team had to put names to phone numbers after Meadows provided his text records to the committee. He then discovered exchanges between Meadows and Ginni Thomas, a conservative lobbyist and the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.
“It was an open secret around the Beltway that her views had gotten pretty extreme,” Riggleman told “60 Minutes.” “What really shook me was the fact that if Clarence agreed with or was even aware of his wife’s efforts, all three branches of government would be tied to the stop the steal movement. All three branches.”
Riggleman told the news program that he tried to convince the committee’s vice chair, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), to subpoena Ginni Thomas, who agreed last week to a “voluntary meeting.” Riggleman voiced serious doubts that Thomas’ husband was unaware of her propulsive influence.
“Is it possible that Clarence Thomas had no idea of the activities of Ginni Thomas over decades as a Republican activist? Possible,” Riggleman said. “Had no idea about what was going on during the election and Biden and Trump and her connections to the administration? Possible. Is it probable?”
In a message forwarded to Meadows by Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), North Dakota’s then-U.S. attorney Drew Wrigley wrote, “Trump’s legal team has made a joke of this whole thing.” Wrigley then urged Meadows to take drastic measures to overturn the election.
“Demand state wide recount of absentee/mail-in ballots in line with pre-existing state law with regard to signature comparisons,” wrote Wrigley. “If state officials refuse that recount, the legislature would then act under the constitution, selecting the slate of electors.”
The message not only showed a member of the Justice Department endorsing an attempt to overturn the election but paralleled actions taken by Trump’s legal team when it tried to send unauthorized electors to Congress on Jan. 6 to have Vice President Mike Pence refuse the certification of Biden’s election.
“It sounded like, honestly, the way that they talked, and the way that they referred to this, this ‘epic struggle,’ almost sounded like me looking at foreign terrorist groups in my past,” Riggleman told “60 Minutes.”
The texts also showed that, hours after Trump tweeted on Dec. 19, 2020, about a “big protest,” Rep. Jody Hice (R-Ga.) texted Meadows to vow he would be “leading” Georgia’s “electoral college objection on Jan 6.” Hice also said Trump had spoken with Marjorie Taylor Greene, a far-right Republican who had been elected to represent Georgia in the U.S. House but not yet sworn in at the time.
While in Congress in 2019 and 2020, Riggleman overwhelmingly voted with Trump, but he left the Republican Party in June. He described himself to “60 Minutes” as politically “unaffiliated” and said his efforts now are rooted in mere patriotic service.
“I’m in a unique position because I say, ‘Well, I know what’s going on, right?’ I not only was on the committee; I was in Congress; I was in meetings with President Trump,” he told “60 Minutes.” “I got insight. This is what I was trained to do. … And now I get to apply those skills to this problem set.”