New and alarming details about the involvement of key figures — from members of Congress to Kanye West — in former President Donald Trump’s bid to overturn a free and fair election have continued to trickle out over the last week. And those details underscore the links from those efforts to the attempted coup of Jan. 6, to the ongoing election reviews that are seeking to help set the stage for what amounts to the next effort to upend democracy.
The House committee investigating the attack on the U.S. Capitol building has released more text messages sent to Mark Meadows, Trump’s chief of staff. On Tuesday, the House voted to hold Meadows in contempt of Congress for refusing to cooperate further with the investigation.
- Among the texts are frantic messages from Fox News hosts Laura Ingraham, Sean Hannity, and others, who asked Meadows to have Trump tell his violent supporters to go home. (Of course, those same hosts would later downplay the attack.)
- American Oversight on Wednesday sued the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security for the release of top officials’ communications with proponents of the Big Lie, including Fox News hosts, from the weeks surrounding the attack.
- Other records from Meadows — who the committee said conducted official business using a personal cell phone, personal email accounts, and the messaging app Signal — included a Jan. 5 email in which Meadows said the National Guard would be on hand to “protect pro Trump people.” The National Guard’s hours-long delay in responding to the Capitol Police’s requests for help on Jan. 6 is a major focus of the committee’s investigation (and ours).
We’ve also learned new details about the machinations of Trump’s allies both in and out of government who sought to keep Trump in power illegally — and Meadows’ close involvement in those efforts.
- “I heard Jeff Clark is getting put in on Monday,” someone texted Meadows on Jan. 3, referring to Trump’s failed ploy to oust Jeffrey Rosen, then the acting attorney general, and replace him with a loyalist who would use the Justice Department to back up Trump’s baseless claims of widespread fraud.
- Several Republican members of Congress also worked closely with Meadows in various schemes, from the Justice Department pressure campaign to farfetched lawsuits based on outlandish conspiracy theories. The New York Times has a detailed run-through of how “a half-dozen right-wing members of Congress became key foot soldiers in Trump’s effort to overturn the election.”
- The Arizona Republic outlines how two of those Congress members, Reps. Andy Biggs and Paul Gosar, are among Arizona politicians “continuing on the same path” and are “riding similar rhetoric to tout election integrity measures.”
- The committee is also looking at the efforts of another one of those lawmakers, Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas, who in late December 2020 sued Vice President Mike Pence over his refusal to assert control of the election certification.
- Also this week, Politico reported on two memos authored by Trump campaign lawyer Jenna Ellis in the week before Jan. 6, which made widely disputed legal arguments about Pence’s ability to prevent the certification.
Meadows’ communications have also put renewed scrutiny on Trump’s pressure campaign on state officials during that time.
- During Trump’s infamous Jan. 2 phone call in which he urged the Georgia secretary of state to “find” the votes to change that state’s election outcome, a Georgia state official texted Meadows, “Need to end this call.”
- Text messages also revealed the Trump White House attempted to get contact information for Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich from a member of Congress.
- In another text, a member of Congress suggested that Republican-led state legislatures “just sent their own [pro-Trump] electors” to Congress and then “have it go to” the Supreme Court. Meadows responded that Trump believed legislatures “have the power” to overturn the results.
Among other names that have resurfaced in the past week is that of Phil Waldron, a former Army colonel who has been involved in several election-overturning endeavors. Waldron had worked with Trump’s legal team, and briefed members of Congress on various proposals to thwart the election of President Joe Biden.
- On Thursday, the Jan. 6 committee announced it had issued a subpoena to Waldron, who two days before spoke at a meeting of the Louisiana Voting System Commission.
- We’ve been investigating Waldron’s involvement in the push for unnecessary election reviews in several states, and uncovered records showing Arizona Senate President Karen Fann consulted Waldron about hiring Cyber Ninjas to conduct the sham “audit” of Maricopa County results. Other records include evidence of his contact with prominent Big Lie proponents.
- American Oversight has issued a deposition notice for Cyber Ninjas CEO Doug Logan, directing him to answer questions about the company’s failure to release public records related to the partisan “audit.”
In Wisconsin, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said that the partisan election investigation being run by attorney Michael Gableman will last longer and cost taxpayers even more than the $676,000 already authorized.
Here are some recent headlines related to bogus election reviews and hunts for widespread voter fraud:
- Texas secretary of state sends ‘exhaustive’ election audit ask to Dallas, Tarrant, Collin counties (Dallas Morning News)
- Who’s at the door? It may be Trump loyalists, hunting for Michigan ‘ghost voters’ (Bridge Michigan)
- Pa. court to hear arguments over releasing voter information as part of election investigation (Pennsylvania Capital-Star)
- Republicans in Potter County, Texas, to run their own 2022 primary, seeking ‘election integrity’ (Votebeat)
- Texas election officials went looking for illegal voters. They found some U.S. citizens. (Texas Monthly)
On the Records
Ken Paxton’s Expensive Voter-Fraud Office
The Houston Chronicle reported on records we obtained from the office of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, showing that his office’s election integrity unit closed just three cases in the last year and opened just seven new ones. During that time, the unit’s budget increased to $2.2 million (up from $1.9 million the year before), with a larger staff and more than 20,000 hours devoted to the task. If this sounds familiar, it’s because we uncovered records last year showing the office had closed just over a dozen prosecutions in 2020.
“Paxton’s office has not uncovered any evidence of voter fraud in 2020 beyond isolated incidents affecting a handful of votes in an election in which more than 11 million Texas cast ballots,” the Chronicle wrote.
- Meanwhile, a new Associated Press analysis of “every potential case of voter fraud in the six battleground states” disputed by Trump found fewer than 475 cases, a small fraction (0.15 percent) of Biden’s victory margin in those states.
- “The cases could not throw the outcome into question even if all the potentially fraudulent votes were for Biden, which they were not, and even if those ballots were actually counted, which in most cases they were not.”
In February, Emergent BioSolutions’ Baltimore factory ruined millions of Covid-19 vaccine doses. We asked the Securities and Exchange Commission for records of any investigations into the CEO’s sale of his company’s stock just before its stock price began to fall. The SEC said it could neither confirm nor deny the existence of such records.
Other Stories We’re Following
Jan. 6 and the Big Lie
- Dominion Voting wins key decision in lawsuit against Fox News (CNN)
- The U.S. military men spreading Trump’s baseless fraud claims (Reuters)
- The network of election lawyers who are making it harder for Americans to vote (Guardian)
- ‘Big Lie’ proponent John Eastman uses Christian crowdfunding site to raise money for his legal bills (Forbes)
- Project Veritas nearly doubled its funding in 2020 while amplifying baseless election fraud claims (Washington Post)
- Former Houston cop who thought A/C repairman was a voter fraud mastermind indicted on felony assault charge (Houston Chronicle)
- When the myth of voter fraud comes for you (Atlantic)
- Guardsman in Jan. 6 mob gets probation, still serving in the Guard (Military.com)
- Inside Trump’s unprecedented nationwide hunt for ‘disloyal’ Republicans (Axios)
The Coronavirus Pandemic
- The unvaccinated are pushing hospitals past the brink (Bloomberg)
- Five governors ask Pentagon to reconsider National Guard vaccine mandate (NBC News)
- Amtrak loosens worker vaccine mandate, will allow testing option to avert service cuts (Washington Post)
- Some hospitals cancel worker vaccine requirements with Biden rule tied up in courts (Washington Post)
- U.S. Air Force dismisses 27 members over vaccine refusals (New York Times)
- Kansas City doesn’t actually know how much of its police force is vaccinated against Covid-19 (KCUR Kansas City)
- Cass County, Mo., passes measure ending health department’s Covid orders and quarantines (Kansas City Star)
- Long Covid is destroying careers, leaving economic distress in its wake (Washington Post)
- Meat packers’ profit margins jumped 300% during pandemic (Reuters)
- USPS built and secretly tested a mobile voting system before 2020 (Washington Post)
- Operation Whistle Pig: Inside the secret CBP unit with no rules that investigates Americans (Yahoo News)
- Trends in Arctic report card: ‘Consistent, alarming and undeniable’ (New York Times)
- FDA will permanently allow abortion pills by mail (New York Times)
In the States
- Small group of GOP lawmakers, mapmakers controlled congressional line-drawing, depositions show (Columbus Dispatch)
- States’ high courts poised to draw new congressional maps (Politico)
- DeSantis pushes bill that allows parent to sue schools over critical race theory (Politico)
- Biden’s cash fuels DeSantis’s budget wishlist (Politico)
- Missouri AG’s ‘campaign of litigation terror’ sows fear, confusion among local leaders (Kansas City Star)
- ‘Prison gerrymandering’: How inmates are helping the Texas GOP maintain its power (Dallas Morning News)
- Official: License for Noem’s daughter got unusual treatment (Associated Press)
- Agency overseeing Trump’s D.C. hotel lease failed to examine ethical, constitutional conflicts, report says (NBC News)
- Trump’s longtime accountant testifies to N.Y. grand jury in criminal probe (Washington Post)
- Trump donor allegedly used embezzled money to support the former president’s campaign and lead a lavish lifestyle (Forbes)
- Trump rang in birthday by inflating golf club’s value by $42 million (Daily Beast)
- GOP agrees to pay up to $1.6 million of Trump’s legal bills in N.Y. probes (Washington Post)