Mark Meadows is a right-wing Republican and Trump ally who served North Carolina’s 11th Congressional District in the House of Representatives from 2013–20 before becoming the former president’s chief of staff in 2020.
Although he initially opposed Trump’s presidential bid, Meadows became a staunch supporter once the former president took office. He was closely involved with Trump’s efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election and like his boss, failed to take any action to either prevent the attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6 or do much about it once the violence erupted.
Since Trump left office, Meadows has been very circumspect about his own legal liability in helping the former president resist the peaceful transition of power. In 2021, he initially cooperated with the House Select Committee investigating the insurrection but was ultimately held in contempt of Congress for refusing to testify. The Department of Justice (DOJ) held off on pressing charges at the time and the former chief of staff has since cooperated with the special counsel’s own investigations of the mishandling of classified documents and interference in the 2020 presidential election.
Meadows was not indicted in the two DOJ cases brought against the former president, but he is one of 19 defendants indicted in August 2023 by District Attorney Fani Willis of Fulton County, Georgia for his role in a sprawling “criminal enterprise” aimed at overturning the results of the 2020 presidential election. He has been charged with two felony counts: one for racketeering and another for soliciting a public officer to violate his oath of office—a reference to his role in helping to pressure Georgia’s Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) to “find” enough votes for Trump to claim victory in the state.
Meadows is among several codefendants in Georgia attempting to get the case moved out of state court to federal court, which would be more favorable to him. He surprised legal scholars by taking to the stand himself to argue in a pretrial hearing before U.S. District Judge Steve Jones that he falls under a federal immunity claim that protects him from prosecution for simply doing his job on behalf of the U.S. government.
As a congressman, Meadows was a founding member of the Freedom Caucus, an ultra-conservative bloc within the House formed by Tea Party-affiliated Republicans.
After leaving the White House, Meadows became a senior partner at the Conservative Partnership Institute (CPI), where he continues to advocate for far-right policies while collecting a $560,000 annual salary.
January 6, 2021
- According to selected text messages Meadows turned over to the House Select Committee investigating the attack on the Capitol, he texted a member of Congress on Nov. 6, 2020, saying: “I love it,” in response to a proposal for states to submit alternate slates of electors for Trump. A Nov. 7 email obtained by the committee also discussed the possibility of states submitting alternate electors.
- In messages exchanged with a senator, Meadows said Trump “thinks the legislators have the power, but the VP has power too,” in a discussion of the possibility of Vice President Pence altering the outcome of the election by rejecting electors from certain states.
- In a Jan. 5, 2021 email, Meadows claimed that the National Guard would be present at the Capitol the following day to “protect pro-Trump people.”
- Meadows also turned over a 38-page PowerPoint presentation recommending that Trump declare a state of emergency, among other things, to prevent the transfer of power to President-elect Biden. Retired Army Colonel Phil Waldron claimed that he had circulated the presentation and it was possible a member of his team had sent it to Meadows.
- Meadows reportedly put Trump in contact with Mark Martin, a former North Carolina Supreme Court justice who helped craft the legal argument that Pence could overturn the election results by rejecting electors from certain states.
- The Washington Post reported that Meadows had been apprised of plans for the rally at the White House Ellipse that preceded the storming of the Capitol, including the timing of the event and the speaker lineup.
- Meadows received a barrage of text messages from congressional Republicans and conservative activists regarding plans to overturn the election by rejecting electors from swing states.
- Weeks after the creation of the House Select Committee to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, Trump’s Save America PAC donated $1 million to the Conservative Partnership Institute (CPI), where Meadows has worked as a senior partner since leaving the White House.
- In December 2021, Meadows was held in contempt of Congress for refusing to continue cooperating with the House Select Committee, but the DOJ ultimately chose not to follow through on those charges and instead asked for his cooperation as a witness in its investigations into criminal behavior by Trump and members of his inner circle..
- In February 2022, Meadows defended Trump’s practice of illegally destroying sensitive government documents while in office. “When we start talking about this was ripped up, it was taped back together—obviously that was preserved—it’s supposed to show some nefarious purpose but yet they will ignore Nancy Pelosi ripping something up on national TV behind the president,” he said on the pro-Trump TV channel Newsmax.
The Big Lie
- Even before the election, Meadows used media appearances to warn that the election would be compromised by fraud. “We’ve got states that … actually are doing things that you would qualify as a scam when you start to look at allowing mail-in ballots to come in seven, nine days after Nov. 3,” he said on CBS.
- Immediately after the election was called for Biden, Meadows exchanged countless text messages with key members of the Trump team and family discussing ways to overturn the legal outcome. “We have operational control Total leverage,” reads a text from Donald Trump, Jr. “Moral High Ground POTUS must start 2nd term now.”
- Phil Waldron, a retired Army colonel who reportedly circulated a PowerPoint recommending Trump invoke a state of emergency to stay in power, said that he met with Meadows to discuss accusations of fraud during the 2020 election.
- Between November 2020 and January 2021, Meadows reportedly exchanged dozens of text messages with Ginni Thomas, a conservative activist and wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, about ways to overturn the election results. During this time, Justice Thomas did not recuse himself from cases brought before the Supreme Court pertaining to the election.
- On Dec. 26, 2020, Meadows pushed accusations of fraud on his official Twitter account, which had roughly 948,000 followers. In one tweet, which was flagged by Twitter, he said that Trump was “preparing to fight back against mounting evidence of voter fraud.” In response to being flagged, he wrote: “Twitter censors conservatives, suppresses information on a partisan basis, blocks accurate reporting on Hunter Biden to boost Democrats… and now they flag you at the mere mention of voter fraud evidence.”
- On Dec. 29 and 30, 2020, Meadows encouraged Justice Department officials to investigate accusations of voter fraud, despite multiple federal courts having found no evidence of fraud in various states.
- On Jan. 2, 2021, Meadows participated in the hour-long phone call Trump made to Georgia’s secretary of state pressuring him to break the law and “find 11,780 votes” so that the president could declare victory over Biden in Georgia. In August 2023, Fulton County’s district attorney indicted him for this and related crimes committed as Trump attempted to hold on to power despite losing the election.