Testimony from a former aide to then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows helped provide context to the back-channel communications her boss had with Republican members of Congress after Donald Trump's election loss.
A new trove of text messages Meadows exchanged with Trump's allies and family members between the election and Joe Biden's inauguration discussing various schemes to keep the former president in office, and former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson told the House select committee that she recalled at least 11 members of Congress discussing a plan to have vice president Mike Pence throw out the election results, reported the New York Times.
“They felt that he had the authority to — pardon me if my phrasing isn’t correct on this, but — send votes back to the states or the electors back to the states,” Hutchinson told congressional investigators.
Hutchinson testified that the members of Congress appeared to support a plan promoted by conservative attorney John Eastman that has been widely described as a coup attempt, and she told investigators that at least three of the GOP lawmakers -- Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) and Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA) -- were present when White House lawyers said the alternate electors scheme was not "legally sound."
However, she said, Meadows allowed the plan to move forward despite doubts about its legality.
The newly revealed text messages show Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) was an early supporter of that scheme, which he conceded was "highly controversial," and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) promoted the strategy up to Jan. 5, 2021, in a text message to Meadows.
Hutchinson also testified that Perry backed the plan to encourage Trump supporters to march on the Capitol, and she said no one present objected to the proposal, and the former Meadows aide made clear those members of Congress were “inclined to go with White House guidance” about sending a crowd to the Capitol as lawmakers certified the election results.
Some members of Congress spoke at the Trump rally that preceded the Capitol riot, amplifying the former president's lies about election fraud and using fiery language steeped in Revolutionary War rhetoric.
“Today is the day American patriots start taking down names and kicking ass,” said Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL), who wore body armor to the Ellipse rally. “Are you willing to do what it takes to fight for America?”