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Trump allies' secret work to overturn 2020 election detailed in new text messages

The text messages, obtained by CNN, help illuminate how far the Trump White House and its allies secretly tried to go to overturn the 2020 election.
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WASHINGTON — A new tranche of text messages published Monday between former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and allies of former President Donald Trump, sent in the months after the 2020 election, offers new insight into the efforts to overturn Joe Biden's election victory.

The text messages, which were obtained by CNN, help illuminate how far the Trump White House and its allies secretly tried to go to overturn the 2020 election, including failed efforts by Meadows to contact Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.

Meadows provided the 2,319 text messages to the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. CNN did not say how it obtained the messages, some of which were published on its website.

NBC News has not been able to independently confirm all of the text messages. The Jan. 6 committee refused to confirm the veracity of the texts or to comment on them. NBC News has also reached out to those who sent or received texts, including a representative for Meadows, and has not received responses from most of them.

The text messages offer another glimpse into the inner workings of the White House after Trump lost the 2020 election and then as the Jan. 6 riot unfolded. Publicly, Trump and his allies were working to overturn his election defeat by persuading state officials in places like Georgia and Arizona to negate the will of their voters, but behind closed doors the effort was even more frantic.

The messages also show how efforts to substantiate conspiracy theories that were fomented on the internet were circulating in the White House and fixating Trump himself.

Several days after Biden was declared the winner, Trump political aide Jason Miller texted Meadows on Nov. 13, 2020, flagging that he had emailed him a "backgrounder" on Dominion Voting Systems, which sells voting software and machines.

"Lots there re: functionality problems, not much there on Dem/Soros conspiracy connections," Miller texted Meadows. "Will defer to you on whether or not to share full report with POTUS. POTUS is clearly hyped up on them, not just from his tweets, but he also called me and Justin separately last night to complain."

Miller did not respond to a request for comment on his texts.

Businessman Mike Lindell, a prominent Trump supporter who owns My Pillow, confirmed that he sent a lengthy text message to Meadows that was published by CNN. He added that he also sent Meadows a PDF document that included claims that Russia and China, among other countries and private companies, hacked into voting machines.

Meadows responded, "I am not an attorney. I don’t have the expertise to weigh in on any of this," according to Lindell.

On Nov. 19, 2020, more than a month before a phone call in which Trump begged Raffensperger to find 11,780 votes in Georgia to recalculate in his favor, Meadows texted asking Raffensperger him to call him.

A spokesman for Raffensperger said Monday he had no recollection of receiving that message.

In early December, Meadows texted Raffensperger again: "mr Secretary. Can you call the White House switchboard at 202 757 6000. For a call. Your voicemail is full."

Raffensperger did recall getting that message, a spokesman said. Raffensperger believed the message wasn’t genuine — possibly a prank — and didn’t respond, the spokesman said.

Republicans in Congress also discussed with Meadows their plans to object to the certification of the election results on Jan. 6.

On Dec. 30, 2020, Rep. Brian Babin, R-Texas, texted Meadows a Politico story and said: "Dems and some Republicans may well try to shortstop our objection efforts. Hoping the VP sticks with us."

The following day, Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, who had been elected to Congress but not yet sworn into office, texted Meadows saying they had to "get organized for the 6th."

"I would like to meet with Rudy Giuliani again. We didn’t get to speak with him long. Also anyone who can help. We are getting a lot of members on board. And we need to lay out the best case for each state," Greene wrote.

Greene's congressional office did not respond to a request for comment.

A day before the Jan. 6 riot, Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, texted Meadows that Vice President Mike Pence "should call out all electoral votes that he believes are unconstitutional as no electoral votes at all -- in accordance with guidance from founding father Alexander Hamilton and judicial precedence."

"I have pushed for this. Not sure it is going to happen," Meadows responded on Jan. 6.

Jordan's congressional office did not respond to a request for comment.

On the day of the attack, a number of GOP lawmakers, family members and former Trump aides texted Meadows calling on him to get Trump to stop the riot.

Trump’s former chief of staff Mick Mulvaney texted Meadows: “Mark: he needs to stop this, now. Can I do anything to help?”

Asked Monday whether the text to Meadows was authentic, Mulvaney said by email: “I remember texting him. And I recall he did not respond. I don’t recall My exact verbiage but that text looks accurate to me.”

“TELL THEM TO GO HOME !!!” another former White House chief of staff, Reince Priebus, texted Meadows.

Priebus did not respond to a request for comment.

Lawmakers who supported the president also tried to get him to calm the rioters.

"Mark I was just told there is an active shooter on the first floor of the Capitol Please tell the President to calm people This isn’t the way to solve anything," texted Greene, who added later: "Mark we don’t think these attackers are our people. We think they are Antifa. Dressed like Trump supporters.”

The Justice Department has arrested nearly 800 people suspected of taking part in the Jan. 6 riot and found no evidence to support claims that any were members of "antifa," an umbrella term for leftist militants, dressed up like Trump supporters. Many who have pleaded guilty or gone to trial have expressed continued support for Trump, while some have said they regret their previous support for him.

Several days before Biden's inauguration, Greene texted Meadows on Jan. 17, 2021, to say some lawmakers were saying Trump should call for martial law.

"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. I don’t know on those things. I just wanted you to tell him. They stole this election. We all know. They will destroy our country next. Please tell him to declassify as much as possible so we can go after Biden and anyone else!" she wrote.

The House voted in December to refer Meadows to the Justice Department for a potential criminal charge over his refusal to answer questions about the Jan. 6 attack. Meadows had initially provided numerous documents to the committee before he decided against further engagement, claiming executive privilege.