Today in utter lack of surprises: The House committee investigating the Donald Trump-incited riot at the Capitol on Jan. 6 dug up texts showing Fox News stars and at least one of Trump’s interminable sons sent panicked texts urging Trump to call the whole thing off—then promptly went back to pretending Trump did nothing wrong.
As reported by the Daily Beast, on Monday night the committee revealed text messages from three different Fox News hosts and weasel spawnling Donald Trump Jr. to White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, practically begging him to get Trump to intervene. The ex-president, of course, barely lifted a finger to stop the rioting until it was nearly over and even then issued only a weak statement in which he called the participants “very special.” Afterward, everyone involved in the texts started floating various theories about why Trump wasn’t responsible.
“He’s got to condemn this shit ASAP. The Capitol Police tweet is not enough,” Jr. wrote to Meadows, referring to a tweet in which Trump had suggested everyone in DC just respect the police.
Meadows replied, “I’m pushing it hard. I agree.”
“We need an Oval Office address,” Jr. added. “He has to lead now. It has gone too far and gotten out of hand.” This was apparently not the end of it, with Rep. Liz Cheney (one of just two Republican members on the commission) stating Jr. texted Meadows “again and again.”
In separate messages to Meadows, three of Fox News’s most preeminent MAGA stans begged for Trump to just stop. Sean Hannity texted Meadows, “Can he make a statement. Ask people to leave the Capitol”. Laura Ingraham wrote, “Mark, the president needs to tell people in the Capitol to go home. This is hurting all of us. He is destroying his legacy.”
Brian Kilmeade, one of the hosts of incessant Fox a.m. show Fox & Friends, wrote, “Please, get him on TV. Destroying everything you have accomplished.”
The Daily Beast noted that the first two hosts subsequently went on air and acted as though the mob of MAGA hat-wearing conspiracy theorists and far-right whackos might have actually been infiltrated by radical leftists (anti-fascists, or antifa) who triggered the violence. Ingraham said on air that “We knew this would happen ... when you have members of the Trump support organizations and antifa threatening to show up at the same time,” adding there was a “big split” among “MAGA groups that have come to peacefully protest with whoever is behind this intrusion in the Capitol.” On his radio show, Hannity agreed with a caller that antifa was probably to blame and might be wearing pro-Trump disguises. Kilmeade was ever so slightly more honest, laying the groundwork to claim that the president’s supporters might have just been rightfully agitated.
“I think this is a culmination of four years of them denying that their president won the election, claiming that the Russians flipped votes, this is four years of investigation, four years of a very frustrated electorate, 75 million that voted,” Kilmeade said on air. “They feel that they have not had their day in court, let alone lost in court.”
Jr. may have been more concerned that the riot wasn’t effective at keeping his dad in office, as at the rally preceding the violence, he threatened Republican lawmakers with retribution if they didn’t stall the certification of Biden’s victory. He subsequently floated the idea of antifa involvement and said federal authorities may have known the violence was coming and deliberately failed to stop it (which is sort of true, but not at all in the way he’s implying).
Meadows received subpoenas from the Jan. 6 committee for materials concerning the riot and turned over some 9,000 pages of documents before suddenly refusing to cooperate any further, abruptly claiming that the material was covered by executive privilege rather than, say, its handover to the committee having seriously pissed off his ex-boss. According to the New York Times, the committee unanimously voted to recommend the rest of the House vote to hold Meadows in criminal contempt of Congress. That would either allow the sergeant-at-arms of the House to arrest him and drag him before the committee for punishment (usually jail time) or for the speaker of the House to refer the matter to a U.S. attorney for prosecution (also potential jail time).
Contempt charges are more intended to coerce cooperation out of congressional witnesses than they carry serious criminal penalties, but as a high-profile indictment of the person in question by the nation’s governing body, they are at the very least supposed to be somewhat embarrassing. Cadaverous former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon is awaiting his own trial for criminal contempt after a full vote by the House, and the committee is all but certain on Wednesday to vote to recommend the House hold ex-Justice Department staffer Jeffrey Clark in contempt.
Meadows’s lawyer, George J. Terwilliger III, insisted to the Times that his client had never stopped cooperating but is merely holding out for courts to confirm that the material isn’t protected by executive privilege. The committee’s stance is that even if the communications were protected, they should have been submitted to the National Archives under federal record-keeping laws.
An aide for Trump Jr. declined to talk to the Daily Beast on the matter. Fox News didn’t return the Daily Beast or Gizmodo’s request for comment, but we’ll update in the unlikely event we hear back.