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The Early 202

An essential morning newsletter briefing for leaders in the nation’s capital.

A look at Mark Meadows's texts in the days leading up to and after the Jan. 6 insurrection

The Early 202

An essential morning newsletter briefing for leaders in the nation’s capital.

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Happy Hump Day, Early Birds. It’s only Wednesday and it’s already been a newsy week for media. The Times was found not liable in Sarah Palin’s defamation case and CNN is still reeling from the network’s ethical lapses. Tips, comments, predictions about what will happen next week? Reach out: Thanks for waking up with us. 

On the Hill

Here's a look at Mark Meadows's texts in the days leading up to and after the Jan. 6 insurrection

Texting through an insurrection: We've all gotten used to many Republicans whitewashing the violent Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol in an attempt to prevent the certification of Joe Biden's victory.

But a deep dive into the frantic text messages sent to Trump's former chief of staff, Mark Meadows, shows that many of Trump's most fervent allies, including Fox News hosts and lawmakers, were privately urging Meadows to put a stop to the mayhem.

"Can he make a statement? Ask people to peacefully leave the [Capitol]," Fox News host Sean Hannity texted Meadows on Jan. 6, referring to Trump (who was cocooned inside a private dining room off the Oval Office during the attack). “TELL THEM TO GO HOME,” wrote a GOP lawmaker to Meadows, only identified as “GOP member 3” in the texts.

“These and thousands of other frantic, ephemeral text messages that might have otherwise been lost to history are now key to piecing together the most vivid and comprehensive picture to date of the events surrounding the chaos at the Capitol,” write Jackie, Tom Hamburger, Josh Dawsey and Tyler Remmel in a fresh piece out this morning. “The texts, obtained by the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 assault, are among the most important tools the panel has to bring home the gravity of what happened that day, the planning that preceded it and the concern for democracy that lingered in the aftermath.”

Jackie and our colleagues reconstruct some of the texts exploring the communications between Republicans and the White House on that fateful day in their piece, which you can check out here.

Tip of the text-berg

This may be only the beginning of the revelations dripping out of the special committee: So far, the panel has publicly revealed “only a sliver of the thousands of text messages it has received so far.”

  • What's left: “The panel has left a trail of newly released text messages between other players in Trump’s inner circle beyond the 4,000 messages provided by Meadows as it compiles communications from hundreds of individuals and entities who have cooperated with its investigation. The committee’s trove includes texts from dozens of people, a committee staffer said."
  • Pre-Jan. 6: “As it turns out, Meadows also turned over a barrage of messages from people questioning the election results ahead of the Jan. 6 rally — a reflection of the competing interests he was entertaining in order to appease a boss who could not accept his defeat.”
  • According to Josh, “Meadows was texted on Jan. 4 with allegations of voter fraud in churches in Atlanta by James O’Keefe, the founder of Project Veritas, an organization known for using undercover tactics to expose what it says is liberal bias in the mainstream news media."

Responding to questions from The Washington Post, O’Keefe posted a video Tuesday on Instagram that included a screenshot of one of his text to Meadows. O'Keefe said he only shared information with Meadows he had made publicly available elsewhere and chided The Post for reporting on the issue.

Meadows also texted with a variety of other figures involved in the effort to overturn the results of the election — including lawyer Cleta Mitchell and multiple witnesses have been asked about their text messages interactions with Meadows. The messages also show Meadows getting briefed on the planning and speakers at the rally on the Ellipse by organizers, according to two people who have reviewed them.

On the committee, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) has in particular drilled witnesses about any text messages with Fox News hosts, according to a person questioned by the committee, who like some others in this article requested anonymity to discuss details of the probe.

One member of the panel, Rep. Elaine Luria (D-Va.), described the texts provided by Meadows as “key to the investigation — they tie things together and there’s an immediacy to the texts” that provide more context and spontaneous information than a standard email.

“You can tease out the facts and learn more about personal relationships,” Luria said, noting that text messages often allow investigators to see how familiar people are with each other and how they interact in real time

In the agencies

Lawyers say Biden administration is still denying some refugees once banned by Trump

‘We don’t deserve this’: “Anisa Mohamud’s father told her that anywhere she felt safe was home, and she felt safe in Wisconsin,” our colleague Maria Sacchetti writes. “Armed militias had brutally attacked her family in Somalia, spurring the survivors to flee to different countries. From a tiny apartment in Madison, Anisa Mohamud and her sister have worked feverishly so that their relatives could join them.”

  • “Her father died waiting. Her mother and younger brother were one flight away when Trump issued an order blocking refugees from Somalia and other predominantly Muslim nations he considered security risks. President Biden called the bans ‘un-American’ and the Mohamuds rejoiced when he rescinded them last year.”
  • “But months later U.S. officials rejected the Mohamuds again — and would not say why, documents provided by their lawyers show.”
  • “The Mohamuds’s case is raising concerns about the pace of the U.S. refugee system months after Biden boosted the refugee admissions cap to 125,000 people, a repudiation of the record low ceilings under Trump. But fewer than 4,500 refugees have arrived since the fiscal year began on Oct. 1, worrying advocates that the Trump administration’s ‘extreme vetting’ policies remain in place. The former president has said he strengthened vetting to protect national security, but critics say vetting is already stringent and his system shrank the program instead.”

Putin's motives pose a challenge for U.S. intelligence agencies

What Putin wants: “At the height of the Russian effort in 2016 to manipulate the U.S. presidential election, the CIA had a secret weapon: a mole with some access to the inner circle of Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, who was able to inform Washington about how the master tactician was thinking about his next move,” the New York Times’s David E. Sanger, Julian E. Barnes and Eric Schmitt write.

  • “That agent was extracted from Russia in 2017, leaving the United States largely blind, for a while, to Putin’s thinking. Now, after five years of slowly rebuilding access to the highest ranks of the Kremlin, America’s intelligence agencies face a crucial test: deciphering whether Putin will use the more than 150,000 troops he has amassed near the Ukrainian border to invade, or merely to give him leverage as he dangles the prospect of a diplomatic settlement.”
  • “In interviews with officials from the United States and its closest allies, it is clear the United States and Britain once again have windows into Putin’s thinking. Some intelligence conclusions are reached through electronic intercepts, others bolstered by his periodic conversations with Biden, which officials say have proven helpful in understanding Putin’s worldview — and his transactional nature.

The campaign

DCCC warns Democrats must forcefully counter GOP attacks as midterms approach

Playbook: “Democrats’s own research shows that some battleground voters think the party is ‘preachy,’ ‘judgmental’ and ‘focused on culture wars,’” Politico’s Sarah Ferris and Ally Mutnick report. “And the party’s House campaign arm had a stark warning for Democrats: Unless they more forcefully confront the GOP’s ‘alarmingly potent’ culture war attacks, from critical race theory to defunding the police, they risk losing significant ground to Republicans in the midterms.”

  • “The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is recommending a new strategy to endangered members and their teams, hoping to blunt the kinds of GOP attacks that nearly erased their majority last election and remain a huge risk ahead of November.”
  • “In presentations over the past two weeks, party officials and operatives used polling and focus group findings to argue Democrats can’t simply ignore the attacks, particularly when they’re playing at a disadvantage. A generic ballot of swing districts from late January showed Democrats trailing Republicans by 4 points, according to the polling.”
  • “If Democrats don’t answer Republican hits, the party operatives warned, the GOP’s lead on the generic ballot balloons to 14 points from 4 points — a dismal prediction for Democrats when the GOP only needs to win five seats to seize back the majority.”

FYI: “The GOP hits are most effective with center-left voters, independents and Hispanic voters, demographic groups that Democrats have struggled to attract in recent years.”

The Media

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