CNN has reportedly secured 2,319 text messages that were sent to and from former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows between Election Day 2020 and Joe Biden’s inauguration. Much of this trove consists of frantic messages on January 6, 2021, fruitlessly seeking some intervention by Donald Trump to stop the Capitol riot. A few of these missives came from Georgia representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, who appeared to agree with the objectives — if not the tactics — of the insurrectionists.
But a far more interesting text message to Meadows from MTG came quite a bit later, on January 17 — 11 days after Biden’s presidential election was finally certified by Congress and just three days before the 46th president’s inauguration. Per CNN:
By January 17, Greene was suggesting ways to keep Trump in office, telling Meadows there were several Republicans in Congress who still wanted the then-President to declare martial law, which had been raised in a heated Oval Office meeting a month earlier.
Greene texted: “In our private chat with only Members, several are saying the only way to save our Republic is for Trump to call for Marshall [sic] 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!”
Again, Meadows does not appear to respond.
It’s tempting to compare Greene’s reference to “Marshall law” to her notorious comments about Nancy Pelosi’s “gazpacho police” in February. But since this is a text message, perhaps she was a victim of voice transcription or an errant autocorrect rather than some belief that John Marshall, the first chief justice of the U.S., smiled on the presidential deployment of the military in extreme circumstances (you know, like the opposing party taking office after a duly certified election).
But assuming it’s “martial law” she is talking about, it’s rather concerning that some of Greene’s colleagues were talking with her about Trump invoking it to “save our Republic” by stopping Biden from taking office. Greene’s word-salad approach to verbal utterances makes it less clear if she was endorsing a military coup to reverse the election results. But it is perhaps even more alarming to imagine there are members of the U.S. House of Representatives who are even more extreme than the freshman representative of Georgia’s 14th Congressional District.
What the text clearly suggests is that January 6 wasn’t the last moment of peril for democracy during Trump’s presidency. Unlike a congressional decision to decertify Biden’s election under the provisions of the Electoral Count Act of 1887, a desperate effort by Trump to call in the troops to stop the transition of power would not have formally required the assent of Republican elected officials. All Trump would have needed were troops willing to follow his orders — and a belief that he could get away with it without alienating his MAGA base. Fortunately, that did not happen. But Greene’s text should be remembered in case Trump or his minions bring us to the brink of a successful insurrection in the future.
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