Donald Trump’s eldest son texted then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows two days after the 2020 presidential election, as votes were still being counted, that “we have operational control” to ensure his father’s re-election, with Republican majorities in the US Senate and swing state legislatures.
Donald Trump Jr. lays out proposals for keeping his father in power by manipulating the Electoral College process in the text, which has not been previously disclosed. The text was discovered as part of the House select committee’s investigation into the events on January 6, 2021.
“On November 5, Trump Jr. wrote Meadows, “It’s very simple,” adding later in the same message, “We have numerous paths.” They’re all under our control.”
Alan S. Futerfas, Trump Jr.’s lawyer, said in a statement, “Don received numerous letters from supporters and others after the election. Given the date, this communication was most likely forwarded from someone else.”
“This is what we need to do please read it and please get it to everyone that needs to see it because I’m not sure we’re doing it,” Trump Jr. texted Meadows just before listing numerous options for disputing the election.
The text message from November 5 describes a strategy that is remarkably identical to what former President Obama’s allies attempted to implement in the months that followed. Trump Jr. mentions filing lawsuits and urging recounts to prevent some swing states from certifying their results, as well as having a number of Republican state legislatures put forward false “Trump electors” slates.
If all else fails, GOP legislators in Congress might simply vote to reinstall Trump as President on January 6, according to the Trump Jr. text.
“We are in charge of operations. Leverage total “The message continues. “The Moral High Ground POTUS must begin his second term immediately.”
The text from Trump Jr. is instructive on several levels. It demonstrates how individuals closest to the previous President were already discussing how to overthrow the election months before the insurgency on January 6 — and before all the votes were tabulated. On November 7, major news outlets would pronounce Joe Biden the winner after another two days.
The text also adds to a growing amount of evidence that Trump’s inner circle was actively considering how to overturn the election results.
On March 28, federal judge David Carter in California claimed Trump and conservative lawyer John Eastman initiated a “extraordinary” campaign to overthrow a democratic election, describing it as “a coup in search of a legal theory.”
Meadows’ attorney, George Terwilliger, declined to comment for this story. The House Select Committee’s spokeswoman declined to comment.
Eastman’s document outlined a six-step strategy for Vice President Mike Pence to reverse Trump’s election, including overturning the votes in seven states where there were supposedly competing electors. In truth, no state had put out an alternative slate of electors; instead, Trump supporters claimed to be electors without any power.
Carter accused Eastman of possibly engaging in a criminal conspiracy with Trump to reverse the election. Eastman has been subpoenaed by the House select committee and is battling to keep some of his papers hidden from investigators. In reaction to the judge’s verdict, Dr. Eastman’s attorney Charles Burnham remarked, “Dr. Eastman has an impeccable legal record and respectfully disagrees with the judge’s findings.”
He texts, “Fire Wray; Fire Fauci,” alluding to FBI Director Christopher Wray and White House coronavirus adviser Anthony Fauci, respectively. Then Trump Jr. proposes having then-Attorney General Bill Barr “choose Special prosecutor on HardDrivefromHell Biden crime family” and making former acting Director of National Intelligence Ric Grenell interim head of the FBI.As Trump continued to refuse to concede in the days and weeks following the 2020 election, rumours circulated that he was considering removing Wray, as well as a number of other top officials with whom he had grown unhappy. As Trump denies electoral defeat, concern rises that his administration is acting “more akin to a dictatorship.”
Trump and his supporters chastised Wray for failing to release evidence that they said would be damaging to Trump’s political opponents, including Biden. The possibility of Trump removing Wray had loomed over the FBI for weeks, according to CNN, extending back to before Election Day.
While Wray remains in his position and Barr left in mid-December 2020 without naming a special prosecutor to look into the Bidens, Trump Jr.’s text highlights how fragile the situation at the Justice Department was in the immediate aftermath of the election.
The same may be said of Trump Jr.’s request that Meadows replace Wray with Grenell, who not only lacked the typical qualifications for the job but also had a track record of carrying out the former President’s wishes.
Grenell returned to the campaign trail in late 2020 after a contentious three-month stint as Trump’s acting intelligence head to assist promote Trump’s baseless claims of rampant election fraud and back his legal challenges in a key swing state: Nevada.
Biden had a tiny lead over Trump in Nevada on November 5, but appeared to be on track to win the state’s six electoral votes. Grenell and Trump campaign executives announced the launch of a second lawsuit the same day to “block the counting of illegitimate votes,” but offered no evidence to back up their assertions of widespread fraud.