Representative Liz Cheney released text messages provided by former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows showing several people close to Donald Trump during the Capitol riot on January 6, 2021, urging the then-President to issue a statement condemning the protesters.
The texts have been alternately referred to by The Hill as “stunning,” the Daily Beast as a “bombshell,” and Twitter as “damning.”
They are none of these.
The panel, upon which Cheney serves as token Republican and Vice-Chair, has been trying to create a narrative that the January 6 riot was an “insurrection” and planned by Trump and those in his inner circle beforehand.
The text messages, however, paint a different picture – one of Fox News personalities, Trump’s own son, and his Chief of Staff being caught off guard by events that day and strongly advising the former President to try to stop it.
Which he attempted to do.
Liz Cheney read the text messages aloud during a hearing of the United States House Select Committee on the January 6 riot.
The panel voted to recommend a full House vote on whether or not to hold Meadows in contempt of Congress and refer him for prosecution to the Department of Justice for not cooperating with their investigation.
Meadows initially cooperated with the anti-Trump panel but reversed course with the committee due in part to subpoenas over private phone records from Verizon.
He subsequently announced a lawsuit against the panel and Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
The text messages read by Cheney show Meadows and Trump Jr. were caught off guard by the events of January 6 – which defeats their entire theory; that is, that it was pre-planned.
“He’s got to condemn this shit ASAP,” Trump Jr. texted.
Meadows replied, “I’m pushing it hard. I agree.”
“We need an Oval Office address. He has to lead now. It has gone too far and gotten out of hand,” Trump Jr. added.
President Trump did, in fact, deliver a statement, though he was criticized for creating an air of sympathy for the protesters and for taking a long time to tell them to go home, something he requested they do peacefully.
The text messages read by Liz Cheney also show Fox News anchor Sean Hannity urging President Trump to issue a statement.
“Can he make a statement? Ask people to leave the Capitol,” Hannity wrote.
Other Fox News personalities joined in.
“Mark, president needs to tell people in the Capitol to go home. This is hurting all of us. He is destroying his legacy,” texted host Laura Ingraham.
“Please get him on TV. Destroying everything you have accomplished,” added Brian Kilmeade.
But the text messages indicate both Trump’s Chief of Staff and his own son weren’t initially expecting the mostly peaceful protest to turn into a breach of the Capitol. Instead, they reacted as they saw events unfold.
“Please support our Capitol Police and Law Enforcement,” the President would tweet at 2:38 p.m.
“The Capitol Police tweet is not enough,” Trump Jr. would say to Meadows.
Trump seemed to concur tweeting, “I am asking for everyone at the U.S. Capitol to remain peaceful” at 3:13 p.m.
Roughly an hour later he released a video urging people to go home.
Ironically, for those who claimed Trump didn’t “do enough,” he was suspended from Twitter shortly after his video imploring people to go home.
A few days later, he was permanently banned merely for stating he would not attend Biden’s inauguration.
Everything Liz Cheney and the panel have asserted about a conspiracy theory regarding the Capitol riot went up in smoke with those text messages.
The House will vote whether to hold Meadows in contempt on Tuesday.
Former Trump White House adviser Steve Bannon was indicted by a federal grand jury on two contempt-of-Congress charges related to his refusal to testify and provide documents to the committee.
Nine Republicans joined Democrats in voting to hold Bannon in contempt.
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