Donald Trump Jr. led text-message chorus pleading for dad to end Jan. 6 riot
As the walls closed in on Mark Meadows as he was barreling Tuesday toward a criminal contempt of Congress charge, lawmakers fixed their focus on texts the former White House chief of staff exchanged with Donald Trump Jr. during the Jan. 6 Capitol attack.
Trump Jr. told Meadows that his father, then-President Donald Trump, needed to “condemn this s–t ASAP,” according to one message bared by the House panel investigating the insurrection.
“I’m pushing it hard. I agree,” Meadows wrote.
“We need an Oval Office address,” Donald Trump Jr. texted. “He has to leave now. It has gone too far and gotten out of hand.”
They didn’t get a speech. Instead, President Trump watched and waited as his supporters streamed into the Capitol, stormed around the halls of Congress and jousted with cops.
Ultimately, the commander-in-chief released a brief video in which he told the protesters to go home — but not without adding: “We love you. You’re very special.”
The House, which is working to get to the bottom of the events of that deadly day in Washington nearly a year ago, has been stonewalled in its attempts to secure the continued participation of Meadows.
On Tuesday, it debated leveling the criminal contempt charge against the Republican from North Carolina.
The House had not voted to hold a former member in contempt since the 1830s, according to Congressional records. But members of the House’s Jan. 6 Committee said the newly unearthed texts raised additional questions.
Meadows provided the messages to the panel before his lawyer said in a letter dated Dec. 7 that his client would not appear for a deposition the next day. The letter said Meadows would consider responding to written questions.
Meadows supplied the panel with 6,600 pages of records taken from personal email accounts and about 2,000 text messages.
Despite his sudden recalcitrance, Meadows had already provided Congress a new, richly detailed look into the afternoon that Trump misled a mob of demonstrators who broke into the citadel of American democracy.
Before the siege on Jan. 6, Trump had urged supporters to “take back our country” in a speech, claiming he had beaten President Biden in an election that, in fact, he lost by millions of ballots in the popular vote and dozens of votes in the electoral college.
On Jan. 6, the president’s son was far from the only concerned conservative onlooker blowing up the chief of staff’s phone.
Meadows received similar messages from Trump-loving lawmakers and Fox News hosts like Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham as the crowd marauded unchecked, the committee revealed.
“Can he make a statement, ask people to leave the Capitol?” Hannity texted Meadows.
Ingraham wrote, “Hey Mark, the president needs to tell people in the Capitol to go home” and added that Trump was “destroying his legacy.”
The messages laid Trump’s responsibility for the riot bare, and showed that his associates grasped his ability to stop it. Meadows agreed in real-time that Trump should go on national TV or take to Twitter to call off his thousands of supporters.
On Monday night, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), the panel’s vice chairwoman, read the texts out loud and said they left “no doubt.”
“The White House knew exactly what was happening at the Capitol,” she said.
Cheney, a GOP insider turned Trump critic, derided the former president’s “supreme dereliction” of duty for sitting on his hands as the mob hunted down perceived enemies.
The hearing ended with the panel voting to recommend the contempt charges against Meadows.
If the full House votes as expected to recommend Meadows faces prosecution, the Justice Department will have to decide whether to seek his indictment.
Trump defended Meadows, telling The Associated Press that Meadows, 62, is an “honorable man. He shouldn’t be put through this.”
Meadows appeared on Hannity’s show late Monday but neither man even mentioned their bombshell texts that were disclosed earlier in the evening.
“This is about Donald Trump,” Meadows said, “and about actually going after him once again.”