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Messaging Mark Meadows: Let’s Have Marshall Law!

Texts reveal the wholesale embrace of madness and criminality by GOP members of Congress in the weeks surrounding January 6th.
December 19, 2022
Messaging Mark Meadows: Let’s Have Marshall Law!
Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) speaks to reporters in Statuary Hall at the U.S. Capitol (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Jim Jordan was just doing his job. That’s what his spokesperson, Russell Dye, told Talking Points Memo regarding the Republican congressman’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election, as illuminated by a trove of text messages that TPM shared with the world last week.

“Mr. Jordan was carrying out his Constitutional duties as a Member of Congress when he objected to electors on January 6, 2021—just like Democrats did in 2001, 2005, and 2017,” Dye said in a response provided after the article was published. He also said that a text message Jordan sent the day before the Capitol insurrection to Mark Meadows, then chief of staff to President Donald Trump, did not represent Jordan’s own original thinking, such as it might be. Rather, he says it presented, without attribution, a “legal theory” concocted by Joseph Schmitz, former inspector general of the Department of Defense and a 2016 campaign adviser to Trump.

According to this legal theory, all that needed to happen was this: “On January 6, 2021, Vice President Mike Pence, as President of the Senate, should call out all electoral votes that he believes are unconstitutional as no electoral votes at all.”

Jordan’s message to Meadows—which became nuttier still, as when he wrote that “an unconstitutionally appointed elector, like an unconstitutionally enacted statute, is no elector at all”—first came to light late last year. But the TPM report also included many messages that had not previously been reported.

Taken as a whole, these communications provide abundant reason for the House January 6th Committee to recommend criminal charges against Meadows and others who took part in the plot to overturn the results of the 2020 election. As TPM put it:

Meadows’ exchanges shed new light on the extent of congressional involvement in Trump’s efforts to spread baseless conspiracy theories about his defeat and his attempts to reverse it. The messages document the role members played in the campaign to subvert the election as it was conceived, built, and reached its violent climax on Jan. 6, 2021.

The committee is expected to vote this afternoon during its final hearing on possible referrals to the Justice Department for criminal prosecution, in advance of the release of its final report on Wednesday. According to Bloomberg News, the committee is looking into bringing charges against Meadows and several others who sought to overturn the 2020 election by trying “to persuade Georgia and other states to use ‘fake electors’ for Trump, instead of electors that provided Biden with victories.” Trump himself is said to be facing possible charges of obstructing an official proceeding of Congress, conspiracy to defraud the United States, and insurrection.

In all, TPM found, 34 congressional Republicans communicated with Meadows “as they plotted to overturn President Trump’s loss in the 2020 election.” And many of these messages are just as shocking as the one from Jordan. As Stephen Colbert put it on his late-night talk show, “These members of Congress [who] communicated with Meadows were—and it’s not my place to editorialize—stupid evil traitors who were trying to do crimes against democracy for which they should be punished with decades of jail time.”

One of the messages garnering the most attention, for its sheer lawlessness, was sent by Republican Rep. Ralph Norman of South Carolina on January 17, 2021, 11 days after the attempted coup and three days before Biden’s inauguration. It went like this:

Mark, in seeing what’s happening so quickly, and reading about the Dominion law suits attempting to stop any meaningful investigation we are at a point of � no return � in saving our Republic !! Our LAST HOPE is invoking Marshall Law!! PLEASE URGE TO PRESIDENT TO DO SO!!

Ralph Norman


Norman, who was re-elected to Congress on Nov. 8 and will be part of the Republicans’ new majority, later told HuffPost that his only regret in writing this deranged screed is that he misspelled the word “martial.” “I was very frustrated then, I’m frustrated now,” he is quoted as saying. “I was frustrated then by what was going on in the Capitol. President Biden was in his basement the whole year. Dominion was raising all kinda questions.”

President Biden was in his basement the whole year?

Norman was and still is barking mad. But he’s in abundant company. As was previously reported, a similar text message with the identical misspelling of martial law was sent to Meadows on January 17, 2021 by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia: “In our private chat with only Members, several are saying the only way to save our Republic is for Trump to call for Marshall law.”

It was not for lack of trying that they didn’t succeed.

According to TPM’s review of 2,319 text messages provided by Meadows to the January 6th Committee, Republican members of Congress sent at least 364 messages to Trump’s right-hand man regarding efforts to reverse the election outcome. He sent at least 95 messages of his own.

Meadows also heard from others about the role of Congress in Trump’s attempt to steal the election. In a text dated December 30, 2020, Trump adviser Jason Miller identifies Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama as “the ringleader on the Jan 6th deal.” Miller said there were “as many as 50 members on board 1/6.”

Miller added: “If we’re hoping to move real numbers on the 6th, I think we need to quickly start mobilizing our real-deal allies. I’m ready to go, I have bodies to help, will follow your lead.”

Meadows replied: “Thanks Jason. You are the best. I will bring it up with potus . . .”

Brooks acknowledged to TPM that he “was certainly the leader with respect to the arguments that centered on” a 2005 report that identified potential vulnerabilities in elections and on the non-issue of “non-citizen voting.” He argued there is evidence in this report and elsewhere of “massive voter fraud,” which there isn’t. Pressed by a TPM reporter to account for the absence of evidence of major fraud in the 2020 election, Brooks hung up.

In the end, 147 members of Congress, all Republicans, voted against certifying the results of the election on January 6th, hours after a pro-Trump mob attacked the building they were in. Brooks, Norman, Greene, and Jordan were of course among them. So was Brian Babin of Texas, who sent at least 21 messages to Meadows and received at least four replies. He texted Meadows on January 6: “Mark, When we lose Trump we lose our Republic. Fight like hell and find a way. We’re with you down here in Texas and refuse to live under a corrupt Marxist dictatorship. Liberty!”

A Marxist dictatorship?

In one of his earlier messages, on November 7, Babin wrote: “Dear Mark, Many of us as Republican House members want to help the President in any way we can to prevent the outright theft of this presidential election.” He asked Meadows for “some guidance as to what we should be saying and doing.”

Babin would not comment to TPM. I called his office in Washington, D.C., and asked whether Rep. Babin or anyone on his staff had anything more to say on his reported contacts with Meadows. “I will ask our press director whether they’re going to make any comments,” said the staffer who answered the phone, who, when asked his name, gave a quick “Thank you for calling, sir” and hung up.

Other messages to Meadows from Republican members of Congress suggested that state legislatures could step in and declare Trump the winner despite the actual results—which is in fact something Team Trump tried to do. “Dick Morris is saying State Leg can intervene and declare Trump winner,” wrote Rep. Mark Green of Tennessee in Tonto-speak, referring to comments made by the political analyst on a Newsmax TV broadcast. “NC, PA, MI, WI all have GOP Leg.”

“Congressman Green was passing along what constituents were sending him to keep the White House informed on the sentiments of his constituents,” his spokesperson, Rachel del Guidice, told TPM. “He wasn’t advocating for any specific course of action.”

Rep. Greg Murphy of North Carolina passed some advice from an article published by ultra-right Revolver News, which claimed: “The Vote Has Been Hopelessly Contaminated. Republican State Legislatures Must Now Move to Appoint Pro-Trump Electors.” “Why are we not pursuing this strategy?” Murphy wanted to know.

On November 7, Rep. Ted Budd of North Carolina sent Meadows a message seeking to link Dominion Voting Systems with billionaire bogeyman George Soros. “FYI,” he wrote, “Dominion Voting Systems is owned by State Street Capital, which are Carlyle (Rubenstein alums), Rubenstein is a longtime co-investor with Soros Capital.” Dominion is actually owned by Staple Street Capital. David Rubenstein is, like Soros, wealthy and Jewish; he’s given money to causes including the Holocaust Museum.

On December 16, Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona texted Meadows to assert that “China bought Dominion in October for $400 million.” This entirely false claim came from the fevered brain of InfoWars host Alex Jones. Gosar also sent Meadows a link to a story on a blog titled “Some Bitch Told Me” claiming “Massive fraud coming out of AZ.”

Gosar spokesperson Anthony Foti claimed that “at no time did he share a conspiracy theory.” He said the congressman’s “comments were based on factual occurrences.”

I sent an email to Foti asking:

Can you help me understand what factual occurrences these comments are based on, since it appears that China did not buy Dominion for any price, and there has not been any official finding of massive fraud in Arizona? I would appreciate any additional or clarifying information that you could provide.

Foti replied: “The reporter failed to use my entire quote, which he acknowledges later in the story.”

To which I responded:

I am not seeing anything to this effect in the article. It quotes you as saying in an email that “Congressman Gosar filed objections to certification from Arizona under the Electoral Count Act,” adding, “His comments were based on factual occurrences.” I don’t see any acknowledgement that this was not the full quote, even though it is not uncommon for reporters to use some but not all of what a quoted source says.

Could you tell me the full quote and why it changes things, or, better yet, just respond to my question? I would surely appreciate it.

I am still waiting.

Bill Lueders

Bill Lueders, former editor and now editor-at-large of The Progressive, is a writer in Madison, Wisconsin.