A bombshell dropped in Monday night’s Jan. 6 committee hearing when it was revealed that Donald Trump Jr.—along with Fox News stars including Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham—begged White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows to get the president to make a national address and halt the Capitol riot.
“He’s got to condemn this shit ASAP,” Donald Trump Jr. texted Meadows. “The Capitol Police tweet is not enough.”
“I’m pushing it hard. I agree,” Meadows responded.
“We need an Oval Office address. He has to lead now. It has gone too far and gotten out of hand,” the president’s son responded.
An aide to Donald Trump Jr. declined to comment on the newly disclosed exchange, one of several with Meadows that Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), a member of the House select committee to investigate the Jan. 6 riot, read aloud at the meeting. Donald Trump Jr. texted Meadows “again and again,” according to Cheney.
Several Fox News stars also texted Meadows to implore the president to act.
Trump confidant Hannity texted: “Can he make a statement. Ask people to leave the Capitol.” 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.”
And Fox & Friends’ Brian Kilmeade texted: “Please, get him on TV. Destroying everything you have accomplished.”
The messages were in stark contrast to what the Fox personalities were saying on air: Ingraham, Hannity, and Kilmeade all suggested in the immediate aftermath of the Capitol riot that left-wing activists were responsible for the violence or that America deserved it for subjecting then-President Donald Trump to the Russia investigation.
“We knew this would happen when you had a huge group of people descending on Capitol Hill, when you have members of the Trump support organizations and antifa threatening to show up at the same time,” Ingraham exclaimed on Jan. 6.
“We’ll learn more to the extent that that happened. I’m getting a sense that there’s clearly a big split in the MAGA groups that have come to peacefully protest with whoever is behind this intrusion in the Capitol, which by any account is unacceptable.”
During his afternoon radio show that afternoon, Hannity agreed with a caller who vehemently insisted that it was antifa that was behind the mayhem at the Capitol, adding that he “heard these reports that they might even wear MAGA gear” and he didn’t “know who the people are” storming the building.
On his primetime show that night, the Trump confidant and unofficial adviser—who had spent weeks beforehand boosting his pal’s baseless “stolen” election narrative—said it was possible that it was “bad actors” from the “radical left” who infiltrated the mob.
Kilmeade, after saying he did “not know Trump supporters that have ever demonstrated violence that I know of in a big situation,” then blamed the Russia probe as a key factor in pushing MAGA followers to violence.
“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,” the Fox & Friends star fumed. “They feel that they have not had their day in court, let alone lost in court.”
Neither Hannity nor Ingraham addressed the text messages on their shows Monday night, even though Hannity actually hosted Meadows to discuss the committee’s contempt vote. Fox News did not respond to a request for comment.
During the committee hearing, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) revealed that investigators have also been reviewing text messages that Meadows received from fellow politicians. Before reading them out loud, the congressman said, “The committee is not naming these lawmakers at this time, as our investigation is ongoing.”
While some panicked lawmakers simply pleaded for Trump to stop the siege, one text came from an elected official who suggested a way to derail the congressional certification of the 2020 election results.
“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,” it read.
Another message from a different lawmaker showed how their main regret was not the Jan. 6 violence but the inability to stop Joe Biden from becoming president.
“Yesterday was a terrible day. We tried everything we could in our objection to the six states. I’m sorry nothing worked,” it said.
After the recitation of the text messages, the House committee unanimously voted to recommend that Meadows be cited for contempt of Congress for refusing to show up and testify after receiving a subpoena.
The committee had already done the same to former White House adviser Stephen Bannon and ex-Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark.
“History will be written about these times, about the work this committee has undertaken. And history will not look upon any of you as martyrs,” Rep. Bennie G. Thompson, the Democrat who chairs the committee, said, mentioning Bannon, Clark, and Meadows by name.
“History will not dwell on your long list of privilege claims or your sleight of hand… I predict that history won’t be kind to those people.”
Cheney said Meadows’ testimony was necessary to fully understand Trump’s “extreme dereliction of duty” during the insurrection.
“Did Donald Trump, through action or inaction, corruptly seek to obstruct or impede Congress’s proceedings?” she asking, citing the federal code for “obstruction of proceedings” nearly word for word in an apparent nod to the potential for criminal charges against the ex-president.
Meadows was initially ordered to show up for a deposition on Oct. 15, but after his attorney requested additional time, both sides started negotiations that lasted nearly two months.
He ultimately turned over nearly 9,000 pages of records, including emails and text messages from personal accounts and devices. But he drew the committee’s ire by refusing to appear in person to answer questions under oath behind closed doors.
“It’s time to see if the Department of Justice can be more persuasive. No one is above the law, not even the president’s chief of staff,” said Rep. Adam Kinzinger, a Republican on the committee.
Asawin Suebsaeng contributed to this report.