Former President Donald Trump’s eldest son sent the White House chief of staff a text message two days after Election Day in 2020 that laid out strategies for declaring his father the winner regardless of the electoral outcome, people familiar with the exchange said Friday.
The text, which was reported earlier by CNN, was sent two days before Joe Biden was declared the winner of the election. The recipient, Mark Meadows, turned a cache of his text messages over to the House committee investigating the events leading up to the deadly riot at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, as the Electoral College results in Biden’s favor were being certified.
“It’s very simple,” Donald Trump Jr. wrote to Meadows on Nov. 5, 2020. He wrote at another point, “We have multiple paths We control them all.”
The message went on to lay out a variety of options that the elder Trump or his allies ultimately employed in trying to overturn the results of the election, from legal challenges to promoting alternative slates of electors to focusing efforts on the statutory date of Jan. 6 for certification of the Electoral College results.
In a statement, the younger Trump’s lawyer, Alan Futerfas, confirmed that the text message was sent but suggested it was someone else’s idea that Donald Trump Jr. was passing along.
“After the election, Don received numerous messages from supporters and others,” Futerfas said. “Given the date, this message likely originated from someone else and was forwarded.”
Still, the text message underscores the extraordinary lengths that the president’s allies and official aides were already exploring right after Election Day to keep him in power if the voters throughout the country failed to do so.
Donald Trump Jr. and his brother Eric called on Republicans to keep fighting on their father’s behalf in the immediate aftermath of Election Day, as votes were still being counted in a string of close races in battleground states like Pennsylvania and Arizona.
“The total lack of action from virtually all of the ‘2024 GOP hopefuls’ is pretty amazing,” Donald Trump Jr. wrote on Twitter the day he sent the text to Meadows. “They have a perfect platform to show that they’re willing & able to fight but they will cower to the media mob instead. Don’t worry @realDonaldTrump will fight & they can watch as usual!”
The House committee is investigating what led to the assault on the Capitol and the various efforts to try to thwart Biden’s victory, all of which failed. Ultimately, a mob of supporters of Trump stormed the Capitol during the certification. At least seven people died in connection with the riot.
Trump and a number of his advisers pressured Vice President Mike Pence to use his ceremonial role in the Electoral College certification to upend the process, something Pence was adamant was beyond his authority.
The text message that Donald Trump Jr. sent to Meadows acknowledged that scenario, which was championed by a lawyer advising the president, John C. Eastman. “We either have a vote WE control and WE win OR it gets kicked to Congress 6 January 2021,” the text message said.
The younger Trump also texted with Meadows during the riot, urging him to move the president to act as the violence played out.