The news this week has been littered with fallout from the 2020 presidential election and the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the nation’s Capitol, some of which has implications for our future.
For instance, thanks to the release of newly uncovered emails submitted to a congressional committee, we’re learning more about North Carolina’s own Mark Meadows, former President Trump’s fourth and final chief of staff, and his involvement in Trump’s efforts to find some way, any way, to overthrow the results of the presidential election — which included inappropriate attempts to influence the Department of Justice.
In late December 2020 and early January 2021, Meadows sent five emails to then-acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen asking him to examine several election fraud conspiracy theories. They included a “fantastical” theory that people in Italy used military technology and satellites to remotely switch votes from Trump to Biden, The New York Times reported.
Meadows also tried to get the Justice Department to open an investigation into a discredited theory about signature matches in ballots in Georgia’s Fulton County. (He was also in on Trump’s phone call to Brad Raffensperger, Georgia’s Republican secretary of state, in which Trump repeatedly urged Raffensperger to “find” votes for him that would alter the outcome of the election.)
Rosen, to his credit, refused to cooperate.
Meadows also made a surprise visit to Cobb County, Ga., in December to view an election audit in process — one that found no evidence of the sought-after fraud. Local officials said that Meadows’ visit “smelled of desperation.”
Traditionally, of course, the attorney general’s office operates separately from the executive branch — one of many political norms Trump violated while holding office.
In 2009, Attorney General Eric Holder wrote: “The rule of law depends upon the evenhanded administration of justice. The legal judgments of the Department of Justice must be impartial and insulated from political influence. It is imperative that the Department’s investigatory and prosecutorial powers be exercised free from partisan consideration.”
Attorney General Loretta Lynch was heavily criticized in 2016 for briefly being alone on an airplane with Bill Clinton while Hillary Clinton was being investigated for her emails.
Meadows’ actions were worse, and beyond buffoonish; they were sordid, and they reflect poorly on our state.
“This new evidence underscores the depths of the White House’s efforts to co-opt the department and influence the electoral vote certification,” Sen. Richard J. Durbin, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said in a statement. “I will demand all evidence of Trump’s efforts to weaponize the Justice Department in his election subversion scheme.”
News was also made last weekend when former President Trump came to Greenville for a rally — during which he once again pushed his Big Lie.
We know that some Republicans, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, would like for Trump to give it a rest. That’s not likely to happen.
During the rally, Trump apparently inspired some by saying: “I am not the one trying to undermine democracy; I am the one trying to save it.”
Considering his methods of “saving” it — using every underhanded and dishonest scheme he could think of to overturn the election, including pressuring elections officials, weaponizing the Justice Department and inciting a violent insurrection — we think he may as well have gone with the Orwellian classic: “War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.”
His continued bedevilment of the Republican Party is one consequence of Republicans’ refusal to hold him accountable for his actions. The GOP must be just as desperate as Trump himself.