Hunter Walker on Mark Meadows’s texts and what he expects from the final J6 report
Also: Trump's "MAJOR ANNOUNCEMENT" backfires spectacularly.
As you’re probably aware, my Twitter account was suspended Thursday evening. I put together a little post laying out the relevant facts that you can read here. As I write this late Thursday night, it sounds like Elon is backing down and may reinstate me and other journalists who were suspended. Either way, it’s obviously been quite the surreal day — at one point I was the top trending Twitter topic in the US, and reading all the tweets about me (most of them very nice!) was a bit like watching your own wake — but what follows is a newsletter I mostly had prepared before crap hit the fan.
Just a week before the January 6 committee releases its final report, a team of Talking Points Memo reporters led by Hunter Walker delivered one of the biggest scoops yet about Trump’s coup attempt.
TPM published a trove of texts across a series of articles that then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows exchanged between the 2020 election and Biden’s inauguration with prominent Republicans, including 34 members of Congress. Headline-grabbing new revelations include Rep. Mark Green (R-TN) suggesting Republican state legislatures in states like Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin just “intervene and declare Trump winner,” as well as Rep. Ralph Norman (R-SC) pushing Meadows on January 17 (just three days before Biden’s inauguration) to have Trump invoke “Marshall Law.”
(Norman’s misspelling of “martial” was the same as Marjorie Taylor Greene’s in another nakedly pro-coup text Meadows received that same day.)
The Meadows series puts a bow on an impressive stretch of reporting for Walker, who has covered January 6 full time for more than a year. So with the J6 committee set to have one last week at the top of the news cycle, we talked to Walker about the big takeaways from Meadows’s texts, what he expects from the committee’s final report, and much more.
A transcript of the conversation, lightly edited for length and clarity, follows.
What was the most surprising or interesting thing you took away from Mark Meadows’s text messages?
I think the number one thing is just how alarming it is to see these things coming out of the phones of members of Congress and people who aren’t in Congress but are high-ranking associates of the then-president of the United States.
This is not just about political disagreements. We’re talking about violent rhetoric — fighting, kicking ass. The lack of basic information literacy — you’re seeing members of Congress treat YouTube videos from foreign countries as if they’re gospel. All of that is really, really alarming. Denver Riggleman, who I wrote The Breach with, was part of the team that obtained the texts, and he says the second you read them it’s like looking into the mouth of madness. When I finally read them for myself, I completely agreed with that.
You’re seeing people unspool. In some cases, the messages are thousands of words long, which is not normal. They have no editing. They have completely unhinged conspiracy theories. The thread that goes through it is it’s all in service of this authoritarian goal, which is completely disregarding a democratic election.
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What do you think the texts say about the current state of the GOP, considering many of these people are members of Congress and will continue to be for the foreseeable future?
Nearly 20 percent of these messages are coming from members of Congress, and really all of those people just got a promotion in terms of Republicans taking over the majority [in the House]. A few of them really specifically did. You see allusions to this guy John James. People were saying he should lead the 2020 election challenge in Michigan. Since then, he had a successful campaign, and he’s headed to Congress.
You see Ted Budd asking for pardons as he touts his work to challenge the election, and he just went from the House to the Senate. These folks are ascendant. That’s very clear. I also think there’s a lot in the media about the MAGA wing versus the institutional Republican Party, and these messages really give the lie to that. This is the institutional Republican Party.
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