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Former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows speaks to reporters.

Mark Meadows, then the White House chief of staff, spoke with reporters at the U.S. Capitol on November 18, 2020. (Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc. via Getty Images)

Jan. 6 Coup Plot PowerPoint in Hand, House to Vote on Criminal Charges for Mark Meadows

"We can speed up the hearings, put the biggest story on the front page, and arrest the coup plotters, or we can let the fire burn. The choice is ours."

Jake Johnson

The U.S. House is expected to vote Tuesday to hold former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows in criminal contempt for refusing to comply with a congressional subpoena, defiance that came after the Trump loyalist had already handed over more than 9,000 documents to the panel investigating the January 6 insurrection.

"We can and must hold every person involved in the deadly January 6th insurrection accountable—period."

Among the documents Meadows gave the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack was a PowerPoint presentation that outlined possible steps toward overturning the 2020 presidential election and allowing twice-impeached former President Donald Trump to maintain his grip on power.

Meadows' attorney insists that the former chief of staff received the document via email and did nothing with it.

The PowerPoint included a slide suggesting Trump could "declare [a] national security emergency" and deem "electronic voting in all states invalid"—a nod to the right-wing conspiracy theory that voting systems were compromised by foreign powers.

Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Will Bunch argued that while the PowerPoint appears amateurish, "the quickening flow of leaks and new discoveries from the House committee probing the Jan. 6 insurrection is no laughing matter."

"The only thing wrong with describing the PowerPoint for an all-American coup as a 'hair-on-fire moment' is that the term is way too small to describe the existential threat that's smoldering, unextinguished, in the rotting foundation of the United States and its increasingly haywire experiment," Bunch wrote. "It's been said before, but whatever you would have done in 1933 Germany or 1963 Alabama is what you are doing in 2021 America."

"We can speed up the hearings, put the biggest story on the front page, and arrest the coup plotters, or we can let the fire burn," he added. "The choice is ours."

The House select committee voted unanimously Monday night to recommend criminal contempt charges for Meadows, a move that came after the panel unveiled text messages that showed lawmakers, aides, Fox News hosts who amplified election lies, and even Trump's eldest son Don Jr. pleading with Meadows to get the then-president to condemn the insurrection as his far-right supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol building.

"Hey Mark, the president needs to tell people in the Capitol to go home... this is hurting all of us... he is destroying his legacy," Fox's Laura Ingraham wrote in a text to Meadows on January 6, according to the documents.

The House panel also released text messages Meadows received from unidentified lawmakers offering their own ideas for how the Trump administration could prevent the certification of President Joe Biden's victory, which the House and Senate ultimately made official in the early hours of January 7.

"On January 6, 2021, Vice President Mike Pence, as President of the Senate, should call out all electoral votes that he believes are unconstitutional as no electoral votes at all," wrote one unnamed lawmaker.

Dozens of Republicans in the House and Senate voted to overturn the results of the presidential election following the assault on the Capitol, and the GOP is working at the state level nationwide to suppress the vote and ensure that their anti-democratic efforts to seize power are successful the next time around.

Award-winning investigative journalist Barton Gellman noted in a recently published feature story for The Atlantic that "for more than a year now, with tacit and explicit support from their party's national leaders, state Republican operatives have been building an apparatus of election theft."

"Elected officials in Arizona, Texas, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, and other states have studied Donald Trump's crusade to overturn the 2020 election," Gellman wrote. "They have noted the points of failure and have taken concrete steps to avoid failure next time. Some of them have rewritten statutes to seize partisan control of decisions about which ballots to count and which to discard, which results to certify and which to reject."

"They are driving out or stripping power from election officials who refused to go along with the plot last November, aiming to replace them with exponents of the Big Lie," he continued. "They are fine-tuning a legal argument that purports to allow state legislators to override the choice of the voters."

Responding to Gellman's piece—which was headlined "Trump's Next Coup Has Already Begun"—consumer advocate Ralph Nader warned Monday that "the ultimate lethal blow to democratic elections, should the GOP lose, is simply to have the partisan GOP majority legislators benefiting from demonically-drawn gerrymandered electoral districts, declare by fiat the elections a fraud, and replace the Democratic Party's voter-chosen electors with GOP chosen electors in the legislature."

"Tragically," Nader added, "a majority of the U.S. Supreme Court Justices—three selected by Trump—has no problem with his usurpation of the American Republic. All this and more micro-repression is broadcast by zillions of ugly, vicious, and anonymous rants over the Internet enabled by the profiteering social media corporations like Facebook."


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