Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) was mocked by conservatives Monday evening after a hearing of the United States House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack produced text messages from former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows that showed numerous people close to then-President Donald Trump, including his son, were surprised by the Capitol riot and reached out to him to issue a statement against it — which he then did.
The panel voted to recommend that the full House vote to hold Meadows in contempt of Congress and refer him for prosecution to the Department of Justice, even though Meadows has provided information to the committee.
Meadows is refusing to provide information over which President Trump has exerted executive privilege, saying the courts, not Congress, need to decide what the limits of that privilege are.
The January 6 committee, stacked with alumni from Trump’s two impeachments, including Reps. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Jamie Raskin (D-MD), is proceeding on a theory that Trump and his allies had launched an “insurrection” to seize power.
But the text messages read by Cheney showed that Trump’s inner circle — including Meadows, Donald Trump Jr., and several Fox News opinion hosts — were stunned by the riot. “We need an Oval Office address. He has to lead now. It has gone too far and gotten out of hand,” Trump Jr. apparently texted to Meadows.
Trump was later criticized for how long it took him to speak, and for appearing to show sympathy for the rioters, but he did give an address telling them to leave peacefully.
“Bonchie,” a blogger at RedState, summarized conservative reaction to Cheney’s speech and the released Meadows texts:
Are we to believe that Donald Trump orchestrated “what happened on January 6th” but didn’t let his own son in on it? Or that Trump didn’t share his plans with any of his closest confidantes in the media? That belabors belief, especially since Meadows himself responded to those texts in agreement, noting that he was coordinating with the president on how to respond.
It is abundantly clear at this point that whatever you think of Donald Trump, what happened on January 6th was as much a surprise to him as anyone else. The idea that he hatched and led some master plan in an attempt to seize power and remain in office never made any sense given what we know. Besides, it makes even less sense when you consider that it…didn’t happen. Normally, when you want to enact a coup, you actually, you know, enact a coup. Instead, Trump denounced what occurred, even if it was a few hours later than some would have liked. He then left the White House without any objections.
Meadows is also suing the January 6 committee, pointing out that it violated its own rules when rejecting the Republican nominees to serve on the committee, and arguing that it is therefore invalid under the House’s own enabling resolution.
Cheney and Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), both avowedly anti-Trump representatives, are the only Republican members on the committee, and neither was approved by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), as required by the rules.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.