CNN on Thursday published yet more details of the texts that former Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows provided to the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol before he stopped cooperating with it. The biggest takeaway: The GOP’s pleas to get Trump to call off the dogs that day — pleas that he resisted — were even more pronounced than we previously knew.
We now know of more than 20 prominent Republicans who pleaded with then-President Donald Trump and Meadows for Trump to do more. We also now know more about precisely when the pleas arrived.
It’s now even more readily apparent that, despite the party’s efforts to move on and to excuse Trump’s actions, even Trump’s top allies thought he wasn’t doing enough in real time while his supporters attacked the Capitol.
Among those lodging pleas: Trump’s own son, Donald Trump Jr.; three leading Trump-backing Fox News hosts, including Sean Hannity; multiple current and former White House and administration aides; and a dozen GOP members of Congress.
And that’s just the instances we know about. One thing you’ll notice if you peruse the names of the GOP members who texted Meadows asking for Trump to act is that many of them were Freedom Caucus types — those most loyal to Trump and who might have had Meadows’s cellphone number by virtue of his previous service in the ultraconservative House caucus. They include Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), Chip Roy (R-Tex.), Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.) and Louie Gohmert (R-Tex.).
While we’ve counted more than 20 instances, there are certainly varying degrees of pleading within them. Gohmert, for instance, merely argued that Trump should more forcefully “demand justice for those who became violent.” Greene added early on, “Please tell the President to calm people.”
Others were much more direct. “POTUS needs to calm this s--- down,” Duncan told Meadows. “Fix this now,” Roy said. “The president needs to stop this ASAP,” Rep. William Timmons (R-S.C.) added.
Despite this evidence, both Meadows and the top-ranking House Republican, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), have sought to suggest Trump did, in fact, act quickly enough.
McCarthy was among those pleading with Trump to get on it — in a phone call with Trump — and he even suggested the House censure Trump because of his inaction. But months later, he completely backed off that initial response.
Meadows would also try to rewrite the narrative months later, telling Fox News in December, “At the end of the day, they’re going to find that not only did the president act, but he acted quickly.”
People can certainly judge that for themselves, thanks to Meadows’s own texts.
Below are the pleas, along with what time they arrived (when available). Trump tweeted, “stay peaceful” at 2:38 p.m. and asked for peace and “no violence” in another tweet at 3:13 p.m. As the texts below show, though, many felt those were wholly insufficient. Trump wouldn’t release his video urging people to “go home” until 4:17 p.m. — more than two hours after the Capitol was breached.
Members of Congress
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.): “I was very clear with the president when I called him: This has to stop, and he has to go to the American public and tell them to stop this.” (Interview with CBS News) “The president bears responsibility for Wednesday’s attack on Congress by mob rioters. He should have immediately denounced the mob when he saw what was unfolding.” (Speech on House floor)
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio):) On a phone call, he “implored Trump to tell his supporters to stand down,” according to Politico.
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.): Joined Jordan in that plea on the same phone call, per Politico.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.): “Please tell the President to calm people This isn’t the way to solve anything.” (Text to Meadows, 2:28 p.m.)
Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.): “You are not protecting the country. Where is the DC guard? You are done and your legacy will be a disaster.” (Tweet, 2:38 p.m.)
Rep. William Timmons (R-S.C.): “The president needs to stop this ASAP” (Text to Meadows, 2:46 p.m.)
Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.): “POTUS needs to calm this s--- down” (Text to Meadows, 3:04 p.m.)
Rep. Chip Roy (R-Tex.): “Fix this now." (Text to Meadows, 3:15 p.m.)
Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tex.): “Good that Trump denounces violence but could add & well demand justice for those who became violent …” (Text to Meadows, 3:57 p.m.)
Rep. Jamie Herrera Beutler (R-Wash.): “We need to hear from the president. On TV. I hate that Biden jumped him on it.” (Text to Meadows, 4:15 p.m.)
Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Tex.): “I wanted everybody who is objecting, I want the president, I wanted everybody out in front of those protestors as they were storming the capitol to be there and say stop.” (Fox News appearance, 6:32 p.m.)
Other prominent Republicans
Donald Trump Jr.: “He’s got to condem this s---. Asap. The captiol police tweet is not enough. … We need an oval address. He has to lead now. It’s gone too far and gotten out of hand.” (Texts to Meadows, 2:53 p.m.-4:05 p.m.) (The misspellings were in the texts.)
Former congressman Raúl R. Labrador (R-Idaho): “You guys need to get Trump to say something to calm down the people, a tweet is not enough. This is crazy.” (Text to Meadows, 3:57 p.m.)
Current and former Trump aides
Ex-White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney: “Mark: he needs to stop this, now. Can I do anything to help?” (Text to Meadows, 2:35 p.m.) (Also tweeted calling for an Oval Office address at 4:07 p.m.)
Ex-White House chief of staff Reince Priebus: “TELL THEM TO GO HOME !!!” (Text to Meadows, 3:09 p.m.)
Ex-Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price: “POTUS should go on air and defuse this. Extremely important.” (Text to Meadows, 3:13 p.m.)
Spokeswoman Alyssa Farah Griffin: “Condemn this now, @realDonaldTrump — you are the only one they will listen to. For our country!” (Tweet at 2:54 p.m.) “Potus has to come out firmly and tell protestors to dissipate. Someone is going to get killed.” (Text to Meadows, 3:13 p.m.)
Former New Jersey governor Chris Christie: “I’ve been spending the last 25 minutes or so trying to get the president on the phone myself to say this to him directly. … The president caused this protest to occur. He’s the only one that can make it stop. … What the president said is not good enough.” (Interview on ABC News, shortly before 4 p.m.)
Fox News hosts
Laura Ingraham: “Hey Mark, The president needs to tell people in the Capitol to go home. … This is hurting all of us. … He is destroying his legacy and playing into every stereotype.” (Text to Meadows, 2:32-33 p.m.)
Sean Hannity: “Can he make a statement. I saw the tweet. Ask people to peacefully leave the capital” (Text to Meadows, 3:31 p.m.)
Brian Kilmeade: “Please get him on tv. Destroying every thing you guys have accomplished” (Text to Meadows, 3:58 p.m.)