trump mark meadows
Mark Meadows with Donald Trump. (Photo By Jeffery Edwards/Shutterstock)

Newly revealed text messages show Mark Meadows stood by at least three times as Donald Trump spread what he knew to be lies about the 2020 election.

The texts reveal at least three episodes where the former White House chief of staff knowingly kept silent or helped the former president attempt to overturn his election loss, and there may be even more evidence of wrongdoing that hasn't been turned over to congressional investigators, according to The Bulwark columnist Will Saletan.

"We’ve known for a long time, based on audits, investigations, and court reviews, that Donald Trump’s allegations about massive fraud in the 2020 presidential election are false," Saletan wrote. "We also know, based on firsthand accounts from Trump’s former aides, attorneys, and political allies, that Trump’s advisers repeatedly told him the allegations were false. That leaves two possibilities: Either Trump is lying, or he’s trying to overthrow the government based on an impenetrable delusion. Take your pick."

Thousands of texts Meadows exchanged with Trump's allies and children suggest that he knew early on the fraud allegations were false, because campaign spokesman Jason Miller described claims about ballot-box stuffing in Philadelphia as wildly implausible in a Nov. 6, 2020, text to the chief of staff, Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump.

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"Meadows, Kushner, Ivanka Trump, and others knew from Miller’s text message that these assertions were mathematically absurd," Saletain wrote. "But as the president smeared the city and the election, they said nothing."

A contact in Florida asked Meadows on Nov. 20, 2020, about fraud claims involving Dominion Voting Systems, and he said he was "not that confident" about the allegations and made the same point the following day to Ginni Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas.

"Trump’s advisers knew that the allegations were unsubstantiated and that [campaign attorney Sidney] Powell, when asked for substantiation, had refused to supply it," Saletan wrote. "Nevertheless, Trump continued to smear Dominion on Twitter, suggesting that it had 'shifted' enough votes to swing the election. In a Fox News interview, the president said of Dominion’s vote-counting technology: 'These machines are controlling our country. So it was a rigged election.'"

"Meadows knew these smears were baseless," Saletan added. "But he said nothing."

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Kushner alerted Meadows on Dec. 4, 2020, to a fact check of Trump claims about ballot fraud in Atlanta, which the former president continued to allege at a rally the following day, in a Dec. 22 White House speech and a Jan. 2, 2021, phone call with Georgia secretary of state Brad Raffensperger -- who he begged to "find" exactly enough votes to overturn his loss there.

"Meadows wasn’t a bystander to this phone call," Saletan wrote "He orchestrated and supervised it. When Raffensperger explained to Trump that the suitcase story was false — that the video Trump had seen was 'sliced and diced,' that the unedited video discredited Trump’s story, and that a Georgia state audit had 'proved conclusively' there was no triple-counting of ballots, as Trump had alleged — Meadows stepped in not to correct Trump, but to twist Raffensperger’s arm."

The former chief of staff pressed Raffensperger to investigate claims they both knew to be false “in the spirit of cooperation and compromise,” and Saletan said the texts tell a damning tale about Meadows and other Trump advisers.

"As President Trump told the public one fake story after another about election fraud — stories that eventually led to a violent attack on the U.S. Capitol, in an attempt to block the democratic transfer of power — the president’s advisers knew, and privately admitted to one another, that his stories weren’t true," he wrote.