The messages you are about to read are the definitive, real-time record of a plot to overturn an American election.
TPM has obtained the 2,319 text messages that Mark Meadows, who was President Trump’s last White House chief of staff, turned over to the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack. Today, we are publishing The Meadows Texts, a series based on an in-depth analysis of these extraordinary — and disturbing — communications.
The vast majority of Meadows’ texts described in this series are being made public for the very first time. They show the senior-most official in the Trump White House communicating with members of Congress, state-level politicians, and far-right activists as they work feverishly to overturn Trump’s loss in the 2020 election. The Meadows texts illustrate in moment-to-moment detail an authoritarian effort to undermine the will of the people and upend the American democratic system as we know it.
The text messages, obtained from multiple sources, offer new insights into how the assault on the election was rooted in deranged internet paranoia and undemocratic ideology. They show Meadows and other high-level Trump allies reveling in wild conspiracy theories, violent rhetoric, and crackpot legal strategies for refusing to certify Joe Biden’s victory. They expose the previously unknown roles of some members of Congress, local politicians, activists and others in the plot to overturn the election. Now, for the first time, many of those figures will be named and their roles will be described — in their own words.
Meadows turned over the text messages during a brief period of cooperation with the committee before he filed a December 2021 lawsuit arguing that its subpoenas seeking testimony and his phone records were “overly broad” and violations of executive privilege. The committee did not respond to a request for comment on this story. Since then, Meadows has faced losses in his efforts to challenge the subpoena in court. However, that legal battle is ongoing and is unlikely to conclude before next month, when the incoming Republican House majority is widely expected to shutter the committee’s investigation. Earlier this year, Meadows reportedly turned over the same material he gave the select committee to the Justice Department in response to another subpoena. These messages are key evidence in the two major investigations into the Jan. 6 attack. With this series, the American people will be able to evaluate the most important texts for themselves.
Meadows has not, thus far, responded to multiple requests for comment. The texts Meadows provided to the select committee encompass the period from election night in 2020 through President Joe Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20, 2021. It is not clear which, if any, texts Meadows withheld from the committee, but the text message log offers multiple hints it is only a partial record of his conversations. There are discussions that clearly lack prior context and messages where participants indicate there is further communication taking place on encrypted channels.
But despite the seeming gaps, Meadows’ text record is still incredibly revealing. Some of the contents of the log were published in “The Breach,” a book about the Jan. 6 attack that I co-wrote with Denver Riggleman, a former Republican congressman and senior technical adviser to the committee. In our book, Riggleman described how he and his fellow committee investigators dubbed Meadows’ text log “the crown jewels” because they served as the “road map to an insurrection.” Along with the text messages that appeared in “The Breach,” some of Meadows’ messages have also been revealed by media outlets. The Washington Post published his exchanges with Ginni Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Some of Meadows’ conversations with Fox News personalities and other members of the media were disclosed by the select committee. CNN and I have published Meadows’ conversations with some Republican members of Congress including; Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX), Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY), Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA), and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA). Additionally, CNN has published Meadows’ texts with Fox News personality Sean Hannity and his messages from the period directly surrounding the Jan. 6 attack. However, there’s more. So much more.
TPM is kicking off this series with an exclusive story showing that the log includes more than 450 messages with 34 Republican members of Congress. Those texts show varying degrees of involvement by members of Congress, from largely benign expressions of support for Trump to the leading roles played by Reps. Jim Jordan (R-OH), Jody Hice (R-GA), Mo Brooks (R-AL), and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) in the plot to reverse Trump’s defeat. We reached out to all these legislators, and will be detailing their roles and responses to our questions in the first installment of the series, which is coming later today.
Committee investigators received the text messages from Meadows’ legal team without names associated with the individual texts, only phone numbers. They tied phone numbers to individuals based on law enforcement databases of public records and their own intelligence work. For these stories, we are relying on the identifications of those texting with Meadows that were made by the committee’s investigators. We have indicated where we were able to independently confirm their work through our own public records searches and reporting. The text message contents received by the committee contained tokens that replaced emojis and certain punctuation. They also include many typos and grammatical errors. Other than replacing tokens where they seemed to clearly be standing in for apostrophes, we have strived to present these texts in their original format as received by the committee. TPM has conducted an in-depth review of Meadows’ entire text log with a team of reporters and editors working over five weeks.
Much of the undemocratic attempt to reverse Trump’s defeat played out in the public eye. Lawyers allied with Trump and his campaign launched a failed legal blitz that sought to challenge the election results based on questionable evidence. Republican politicians and activists staged months of rallies around the country to protest the vote. It all culminated on Jan. 6, 2021, when Trump appeared at a rally on the Ellipse and urged his die-hard supporters to “fight like hell” as his loss was being certified at the U.S. Capitol. Thousands of Trump supporters, including many who marched directly to the Capitol from Trump’s speech, stormed into the building, smashed windows, and fought brutally with law enforcement, leading to multiple deaths and a brief interruption in the electoral certification. That evening, surrounded by National Guard troops and broken glass, 147 Republicans voted to overturn the results
Meadows’ text log shows what the scheme to subvert the 2020 election looked like behind the scenes. It reveals the roots of the violence and its key enablers in Washington. The messages show the plot began well before Jan. 6 and continued afterward. They are essential documentation of a dark day in American history.