Hours earlier, Representative Jim Jordan was trying to achieve the same thing.
In a text message with then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, a close ally and friend, around midnight on January 5, Jordan provided the legal rationale for what President Donald Trump was publicly demanding — Vice President Mike Pence, in his ceremonial role. While presiding over the electoral count, he somehow emphasizes the power to reject voters from Biden and Won states.
Jordan wrote that Pence “should demand all electoral votes which he believes are unconstitutional, since there are no electoral votes whatsoever.”
“I pushed for this,” Meadows replied. “I’m not sure it will happen.”
The exchange of texts, in an April 22 court filing from the congressional committee investigating the January 6 riots, is a startling body of evidence showing the deep involvement of some House Republicans in Trump’s desperate bid to stay in power. A review of the evidence has found new details about how many Republican lawmakers, long before the attack on the Capitol, were directly involved in Trump’s campaign to reverse the results of a free and fair election.
It’s a call made clear by members of the House January 6 committee as they prepare to begin public hearings in June. The Republicans who conspired with Trump and the rioters who attacked the Capitol were consistent with their goals, if not violent mob tactics, creating a rapprochement that nearly upended the country’s peaceful transition of power.
“It appears that quite a few members of the House and a few senators had more than a passing role in what happened,” Representative Benny Thompson, the Democratic chair of the Jan. 6 committee, told The Associated Press last week.
Since beginning its investigation last summer, the Jan. 6 commission has been slowly gaining new details about what lawmakers said and did in the weeks leading up to the rebellion. Members have asked three GOP lawmakers — Jordan of Ohio, Representative Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California — to testify voluntarily. Everyone refused. Other deputies may be summoned in the coming days.
So far, the Jan. 6 commission has refrained from issuing subpoenas to lawmakers, fearing the repercussions of such an unusual move. But the lawmakers’ lack of cooperation did not prevent the commission from obtaining new information about their actions.
The court’s latest document, filed in response to a Meadows lawsuit, contained excerpts from just a few of the more than 930 interviews the Jan. 6 panel gave. It includes information on several high-level meetings attended by nearly a dozen House Republicans where Trump allies have flirted in ways to give him another term.
Among the ideas: naming fake lists of voters in seven swing states, declaring martial law and confiscating voting machines.
Efforts began in the weeks after the Associated Press announced Biden as president-elect.
In early December 2020, several lawmakers attended a meeting in the White House counsel’s office where the president’s lawyers advised them that a plan to roll out an alternative slate of voters declaring Trump the winner was not “legally sound.” One lawmaker, Representative Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, opposed this position. So did GOP Representatives Matt Gaetz of Florida and Louis Gommert of Texas, according to testimony by Cassidy Hutchinson, a former special aide in the Trump White House.
Despite a warning from the attorney’s office, Trump’s allies moved forward. On December 14, 2020, fake voters gathered at the State House to cast their ballots, as Democratic voters in seven states—Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, New Mexico, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin—elected to cast their ballots.
They declared themselves legitimate voters and submitted false certificates from the Electoral College declaring Trump the real winner of the presidential elections in their states.
Those testimonies from “alternative electors” were then sent to Congress, where they were discarded.
Since then, the majority of lawmakers have denied their participation in these efforts.
Representative Marjorie Taylor Green of Georgia testified at a hearing in April that she had no recollection of conversations she had with the White House or texts she sent to Meadows about Trump’s protest against martial law.
Gommert told the Associated Press that he also had no recollection of his involvement and that he was not sure it could be useful in the commission’s investigation. Georgian Representative Judy Hayes downplayed his actions, saying it was routine for members of the president’s party to get in and out of the White House to talk about a number of topics. Hayes is now running for Georgia’s Secretary of State, a position responsible for state elections.
Andy Biggs of Arizona has not denied his public efforts to challenge the election results, but he has called recent reports about his deep involvement untrue.
In a statement on Saturday, Representative Paul Gosar of Arizona reiterated his “serious” concerns about the 2020 election, adding that “discussions around the Electoral Triage Act were appropriate, necessary, and warranted.”
There were no immediate requests for comment from other lawmakers.
Less than a week after the early December meeting 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 critical action they believe Pence could take on Jan. 6.
Attendees were actual and in person, according to commission testimony, Hess, Biggs, Gosar and Nawab. Perry, Gates, Jordan, Gomert, Moe Brooks of Alabama, Debbie Lesko of Arizona, and Greene, then a congresswoman.
“How was the conversation?” The committee asked Hutchinson, who was a frequent presence at meetings in December 2020 and January 2021.
“They felt he had the power to, excuse me if my wording was incorrect, but — to send votes back to states or voters back to states,” Hutchinson said, referring to Pence.
Asked if any lawmakers disagree with the idea that the vice president has such power, Hutchinson said there was no objection from any of the Republican lawmakers.
In another meeting on the potential role of Pence, Trump attorneys Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell and Gina Ellis were joined again by Perry and Jordan as well as Greene and Lauren Poubert, a Republican just elected to the House of Representatives from Colorado.
Communications between lawmakers and the White House did not stop as January 6 approached. The day after Christmas, Perry texted Meadows with a countdown.
“11 days to 1/6 and 25 days to inauguration,” the text read, “We must begin!” Perry urged Meadows to contact Jeffrey Clark, the assistant attorney general who has defended Trump’s efforts to challenge the election results. Perry acknowledged introducing Clark to Trump.
Clarke has clashed with Justice Department chiefs over his plan to send a letter to Georgia and other warring states to discredit the election results and urge state legislatures to investigate. It all culminated in a dramatic White House meeting in which Trump considered promoting Clarke to the position of attorney general, only to back off after senior Justice Department officials made it clear they were resigning.
Lawmakers and White House pressure on the Justice Department is among several areas to investigate the January 6 investigation. Representative Jimmy Raskin, a Democrat on the committee from Maryland, hinted that there are more discoveries to come.
“When the mob smashed our windows, bled our police and stormed the Capitol, Trump and his associates plotted to destroy Biden’s Electoral College majority and topple our constitutional system,” Raskin wrote on Twitter last week.
When the results of the commission’s investigation come out, Raskin predicted that “America will see how coup and rebellion meet.”