In Defying the Odds, we discuss Trump's dishonesty and his record of disregarding the rule of law. Our next book, Divided We Stand, looks at the 2020 election and the January 6 insurrection. Some Republican leaders -- and a measurable number of rank-and-file voters -- are open to violent rebellion, coups, and secession.
In the weeks between the 2020 election and the January 6 attack on the US Capitol, almost 100 text messages from two staunch GOP allies of then-President Donald Trump reveal an aggressive attempt to lobby, encourage and eventually warn the White House over its efforts to overturn the election, according to messages obtained by the House select committee and reviewed by CNN.
The texts, which have not been previously reported, were sent by Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah and GOP Rep. Chip Roy of Texas to then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows. The text exchanges show that both members of Congress initially supported legal challenges to the election but ultimately came to sour on the effort and the tactics deployed by Trump and his team.
"We're driving a stake in the heart of the federal republic," Roy texted Meadows on January 1. That text was first released in December by the House select committee and described as being written by a House Freedom Caucus member. Roy's authorship has not been previously reported.
Also on November 7, Roy wrote to Meadows, "We need ammo. We need fraud examples. We need it this weekend."
While Lee and Roy both voted to certify the electoral results in favor of Biden, more than 100 of their GOP colleagues in both the House and Senate did not. Chief among them were Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Josh Hawley of Missouri, both of whom Lee called out in his texts to Meadows.
"I have grave concerns with the way my friend Ted is going about this effort," Lee wrote to Meadows. "This will not inure to the benefit of the president."
Lee added that unless new, competing slates of electors were put forward in accordance with state law, the net effect "could help people like Ted and Josh to the detriment of DJT."
When January 6 finally came, neither Lee nor Roy joined their colleagues in objecting to the 2020 presidential election results.
After the violence unfolded and Congress returned to session, Roy said on the House floor, "The President should never have spun up certain Americans to believe something that simply cannot be."
He also texted Meadows, "This is a sh*tshow.
"Fix this now."
One week before an angry mob stormed the Capitol, a communications expert named Jason Sullivan, a onetime aide to Roger J. Stone Jr., joined a conference call with a group of President Donald J. Trump’s supporters and made an urgent plea.
After assuring his listeners that the 2020 election had been stolen, Mr. Sullivan told them that they had to go to Washington on Jan. 6, 2021 — the day that Congress was to meet to finalize the electoral count — and “descend on the Capitol,” according to a recording of the call obtained by The New York Times.
While Mr. Sullivan claimed that he was “not inciting violence or any kind of riots,” he urged those on the call to make their presence felt at the Capitol in a way that would intimidate members of Congress, telling the group that they had to ensure that lawmakers inside the building “understand that people are breathing down their necks.”
He also pledged that Mr. Trump was going to take action on his own; the president, he said, was going to impose a form of martial law on Jan. 6 and would not be leaving office.