“‘It’s very simple. We have multiple paths. We control them all. We have operational control. Total leverage. Moral high ground. POTUS must start second term now.’”
That, according to a CNN report Friday, is an excerpt from a series of text messages sent by Donald Trump Jr., the then-president’s oldest son, to then–White House chief of staff Mark Meadows on Nov. 5, 2020 — two days after Election Day and two days before major media decision desks called the presidential election for Democrat Joe Biden.
From the archives (January 2021): Two Fox News execs involved in calling Arizona election results for Biden ousted
Also (November 2020): AP explains reasoning behind calling races in the 2020 presidential election
The text messages, reportedly turned over by Meadows to the bipartisan House select committee investigating events surrounding the Jan. 6, 2021, siege on the U.S. Capitol by supporters of then-President Trump seeking to interrupt congressional certification of Biden’s 306–232 victory in the Electoral College, also suggest that “Trump electors” be substituted for state electors empowered through traditional processes and referenced the conditions under which the election could be thrown to the House of Representatives, according to the CNN report.
The Trump Jr. messages, according to CNN, conclude with his calls on Meadows to see that various executive-branch personnel moves — including a firing of the FBI director Trump himself had put in place after firing his predecessor — were made in order to effectuate a second presidential term for his father, popular-vote and Electoral College results notwithstanding. (Biden’s popular-vote margin nationwide exceeded 7 million.)
From the archives (November 2020): Nearly two weeks after Election Day, Trump acknowledges Biden election win for first time — then says he ‘concedes nothing,’ repeating unfounded claim of ‘rigged’ vote
On social media in the wake of the CNN exclusive report, notable observers called attention to the timing of the Trump Jr. texts; their content; their implications for American democracy; and, in a tweet from former Republican Party chairman Michael Steele, their assessment of the former president’s fellow Republicans at all levels: