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More Than 2,000 Of Mark Meadows' Text Messages Reveal Trump's Inner Circle Communication Before & After Jan 6; GOP Lawmakers Texted Meadows Pleading For Trump To Call Off Rioters As Siege Was Underway On Jan 6; Russia Strikes 5 Railway Stations In Central & Western Ukraine. Aired 12-12:30p ET
Aired April 25, 2022 - 12:00 ET
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DANA BASH, CNN HOST, INSIDE POLITICS: Hello, and welcome to Inside Politics. I'm Dana Bash in Washington. John King is off today. And we begin with breaking news. CNN exclusively obtained never before seen text messages, sent and received by former Trump Chief of Staff Mark Meadows between election day in November of 2020 and President Biden's inauguration on January 20, 2021. CNN special correspondent Jamie Gangel joins me now with this exclusive reporting. Jamie, you have a lot of it. First, give the context of this.
JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: So, for context, the January 6 committee has released a few of these before, a few text messages also CNN has obtained and published some others before. But what we have now, are all 2319 text messages that Mark Meadows voluntarily handed over to the committee.
The messages really give an extraordinary glimpse at how Meadows was doing Trump's bidding. How they were trying to overturn the election when they knew that there was no widespread election fraud. Remember, on December 1, their own Attorney General Bill Barr said there was no evidence of election fraud, but this shows what they're doing and saying behind the scenes in real time, even when they know otherwise.
Let me just tell you, the text messages include messages from Trump's family, Donald Trump Jr, Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner, as well as White House and campaign officials, Rudy Giuliani, Sean Hannity, other Fox News hosts from the media, a lot of GOP activist rally organizers, and even people like My Pillow CEO, Mike Lindell.
In addition, there are text messages with more than 40 current and former Republican members of Congress, including Senator Ted Cruz, Representatives, Mo Brooks, Jim Jordan, and Marjorie Taylor Greene. BASH: So, it's extensive, and one of the many bits of information. This reveals and underscores, Jamie, is that no matter what many of those people are saying now, in the moment, on January 6, they were desperate pleas by people who are very much Trump supporters for help.
GANGEL: Right. So, there are some surprises. What do we already know? We know from the committee, that people on January 6 were reaching out to Meadows, trying to get then President Trump to do something. What you see in the logs is that Meadows is flooded with messages.
And here's a surprise, one of the first members of Congress, according to the log to reach out to Mark Meadows is none other than Marjorie Taylor Greene, who is a staunch Trump supporter, and we're going to start with that one.
She says, "Mark, I was just told there is an active shooter on the first floor of the Capitol. Please tell the president to calm people. This isn't the way to solve anything." Now we're going to hear more from her later. She changes her tune the next day, but that day, she's worried and concerned about what's going on.
Also, you hear from Mick Mulvaney, former acting chief of staff, "Mark, he needs to stop this now. Can I do anything to help?" Representative William Timmons, the president needs to stop this asap. And from ranks previous, former chief of staff, RNC chairman, all capital letters, TELL THEM TO GO HOME!!!
We've also seen a couple of texts before from Donald Trump Jr. Now we have the full picture. So, in the past, we know that he had texted Meadows. He's got to condemn this. You can read it on the screen asap. The Capitol police tweet is not enough, Meadows' response, I'm pushing it hard. I agree. Donald Trump Jr., this is the part that's new. This is one you go to the mattresses on. They will try to f his entire legacy on this if it gets worse.
These texts really underscore what the committee has been talking about, which is what was Donald Trump not doing for these hours, these are 187 minutes when his staunchest supporters and his own family are trying to get him to stop the violence.
BASH: Jamie, there's so many threads to pull here. First of all, Donald Trump Jr., "the Godfather is incredibly rich." But also, all of these people at the time were doing and saying the right things, make it stop, and then only afterwards they've changed their tune to say things that are, you know, in denial of what happened. So, this is all January 6.
BASH: But you've also obtained text going back to election day. Tell us what you've learned about what Mark Meadows was hearing when it came to the conspiracy theories and the distorted legal reasoning?
GANGEL: Right. So, one of the interesting frequent exchanges is a group text of the inner circle. This is Ivanka Trump, Hope Hicks, Jason Miller, Bill Stepien, Dan Scavino, Jared Kushner. On November 5, Ivanka Trump text Meadows and the group, "you are all WARRIORS of epic proportions, keep the faith and the fight."
Then on November 7, just hours before the election is called, the theories about how to fight are already coming in Trump's former Energy Secretary Rick Perry, former Governor of Texas text Meadows, "we have the data driven program that can clearly show where the fraud was committed. This is the silver bullet."
So, you see that starting right away, just for the record, previously, we've reported at CNN, another Rick Perry text, he denied that it was his phone. CNN has confirmed from multiple sources, friends and colleagues of his that that is his phone number. These texts were coming from, in fact, these texts on the Meadows log show that he signed his name and his telephone number at the end of the text.
Just for some context about Mark Meadows and his role for the most part, his replies are short. Sometimes he does not reply at all. We do not know whether that's because parts of these were deleted, or because - redacted because he made claims of privilege.
But I will say this from 30,000 feet, when you look at these messages, if this is what Meadows turned over willingly to the January 6 committee, you have to wonder what's in the rest of the documents because these are so damning.
BASH: Yes. They certainly are. Rick Perry signing his name and putting his phone number on the phone number that he texted is also interesting. But the other thing that that we should just note, you mentioned so importantly, that open question of what Trump was doing all this time. He doesn't - he the former president, still to this day, as far as we know, does not text. So, all of these people were trying or getting to Mark Meadows, including Donald Trump's own son, because they knew that was the only way to reach him, to reach the president.
GANGEL: Right. So, there are no Donald Trump president texts, texts here, is also interesting, some other people who are not here, but remember, this is what the committee has obtained, not everything. Meadows is fighting. He's withholding things. So, I think one of the interesting things has to do with the fact that someone like Raffensperger, the Secretary of State of Georgia, does not respond. Meadows reaches out, no answer.
BASH: Well, that suggests a good tease, Jamie, because we're going to talk a lot more about that later in the show. As always, fantastic reporting. Jamie, thank you so much. And we are going to be talking about that, also a new exchange with Mark Meadows and Sean Hannity, and the texts that he Mark Meadows sent to the Georgia secretary of state. Plus, coming up new Russian attacks on five train stations in central and western Ukraine hours after two of America's top officials visit Kyiv.
BASH: Russia is again targeting Ukrainian infrastructure, with strikes on five railway stations in central and western Ukraine, all within one hour. It happened just a day after the highest-level U.S. visit to Kyiv. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin met with President Zelenskyy and other members of his team for three hours.
They announced there will be a return of a U.S. diplomatic presence in the country. After that meeting, Austin talked about a weakened Russia. That's lost a lot of military capability and said Ukraine could win the war.
LLOYD AUSTIN, DEFENSE SECRETARY: They believe that we can win. We believe that we can win, they can win if they have the right equipment, the right support. And we're going to do everything we can, continue to do everything we can to ensure that that gets you.
ANTONY BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE: We don't know how the rest of this war will unfold. But we do know that a sovereign independent Ukraine will be around a lot longer than Vladimir Putin is on the scene.
BASH: CNN's Scott McLean is in Lviv, but I want to start with CNN's Kylie Atwood at the state department. So, Kylie, what are you hearing from your sources about what happened during that three-hour meeting between Secretaries Blinken, Austin and Zelenskyy and his team?
KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yes. A few significant things. First of all, the U.S. diplomats going back into Ukraine is quite noteworthy. The Secretary of State Tony Blinken told the Ukrainians that was going to begin this week, and of course, it underscores the U.S. commitment to Ukraine, showing solidarity, showing support, maintaining strong diplomacy with the country.
Now these diplomats are going to be - going into Ukraine for day trips into Lviv, a city on the western side of Ukraine. They are not going to be resuming operations at the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv at this time, but Secretary Blinken said, that is something that is being looked at. It will probably take a few weeks for them to make that determination. But they are going to be resuming, going into Ukraine, at least during the days.
And when it comes to the Biden administration and how they view this war at this moment. In time, Secretary Austin said that the United States hopes that Russia will be weakened to the degree that it can't carry out this type of invasion into Ukraine after this war has concluded. And of course, we have heard from Biden administration officials that they believe that Ukraine must win, that Russia is losing, at this point they are failing in their objective to take over the entire country.
But it is significant that Secretary Austin said the United States wants to see Russia weaken, essentially so that it doesn't have the military capability to invade other European countries. And that appears to have longer term implications for Russia that the United States would like to see outside the confines of just this Ukraine war. Dana?
BASH: Yes, Kylie. And it's noteworthy that the president actually did finally name a U.S. ambassador to Ukraine. I spoke with Victoria Spartz, who is a congresswoman who grew up from Ukraine, who was pushing for this administration to be more aggressive in returning its diplomatic presence, even more aggressively than what we've heard today. Thank you so much for that report. I want to go now to Lviv, CNN's Scott McLean. So, Scott, what do we know about these attacks on rail stations?
SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Dana. Yes. The timing here is pretty interesting, considering that this U.S. delegation of the secretary of state and the defense secretary had just left Ukraine and arrived on safe NATO ground early this morning. And then a few hours later, the air raid siren sounded here in Lviv. And not long after that, we heard that within the space of one hour, five different pieces of railway infrastructure scattered around the country, were hit by these Russian missiles strikes.
Now, what the Russian goal of these was, I don't know. But it appears when you look at the railway map that, all of these strikes were targeted at junctions, at choke points. And so, it is possible that the Russians were trying to hamper or to cut off links between east and west in Ukraine. And we know that the railway is such a vital part of this country, not only to get supplies in and out but also to get people out of some of the most dangerous parts of the country.
The governor of Vinnytsia, said that there were two strikes there, five people were killed, 18 people were wounded. I went out about an hour from here to the furthest western strike, and it was near a set of train tracks. The governor released a video, showing that an electrical substation which appeared to power the local station or the trains in that area was hit.
We weren't allowed to get that close on the ground. But what we were able to see is the remnants of Russian rockets that had fallen out of the sky, twisted bits of charred and partially melted metal, were sort of littering the ground everywhere. Now, what they did not see though is a large crater, and so they think that that was one of the missiles that was actually struck down before it hit its target, Dana?
One other thing to mention, and that is Horenka. There is new CNN drone video from this, this suburb of Kyiv. It's the western suburb of Kyiv, Bucha, Hostomel, Horenka, these were all areas that the Russians were fighting very hard for. These were areas that were shelled, very heavily.
And from the drone footage, you can see the damage left behind, some areas look like they are flattened, there is extensive building twisted metal on all of these buildings. Now they're going through, trying to recover bodies, trying to restore infrastructure, trying to find unexploded ordnance or mines that may be still in that area, Dana?
BASH: Yes, Scott. The Russian cruelty clearly knows no bounds, not just with the drone footage, but what you started to report on that those rail strikes, and these are the means through which regular average citizens are trying to get out of that war torn country. Thank you so much for that report. Appreciate it. And coming up more details on our CNN exclusive, including the never-before-seen text messages between Mark Meadows and Fox's Sean Hannity.
BASH: We're now on our breaking news, CNN exclusive reporting obtained, CNN obtains, I should say more than 2300 of Mark Meadows texts. He communicates with members of the Trump family from Ivanka to Don Jr., White House officials, Rudy Giuliani and more than 40 current and former Republican lawmakers.
CNN special correspondent Jamie Gangel is back with me, and also joining the conversation CNN's MJ Lee and Ryan Nobles. So, Jamie, you showed us at the beginning of the show, texts from Republican lawmakers, and as I said even some family members, telling Mark Meadows, he needed to convince the president to do something. Now, we're going to dive into another crucial period, which is after the election but way before January 6.
GANGEL: Right. So, I want to point one thing out and that is about Marjorie Taylor Greene. We showed how on January 6, she was alarmed by this. I just want people to go to cnn.com. They will see her other texts there, including one on January 17, where she is calling for the president to invoke martial law. This is something as our colleague, Marshall Cohen, who's been covering the trial has pointed out, she doesn't remember, it's there, it's in the text.
The other thing you see many times Mark Meadows doesn't reply to people, but there's someone who didn't respond to him. And that is Georgia Secretary of State, Raffensperger, who they are pressuring to try to come up. We've all heard the phone call. Can you come up with more votes? And I'll read you two more.
This is on November 19. They're pressuring Georgia Mark Meadows to Raffensperger, "Mr. Secretary, Mark Meadows here, if you could give me a brief call at your convenience, thank you. Then on the fifth. Mr. Secretary, can you call the White House switchboard, your voicemail is full. My understanding from looking at the reporting is Raffensperger who did not respond. We don't see it in the text there.
But I just want to say, looking at these texts, big picture. This is not a normal way for a White House chief of staff to be communicating. This, it sounds a lot more like a campaign manager. And just to underscore, December one, their Attorney General Bill Barr says, no widespread election fraud. They keep going.
BASH: And let's be clear, it was a conversation that Mark Meadows wanted to have that President Trump eventually did have in order to get the Georgia Republicans to find Donald Trump more votes in order to overturn the Georgia election.
MJ LEE, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right. And, you know, it's so just incredible the sheer volume of the text messages that you now have access to, and the public can now see, it is just incredible to see that even the people who were closest to Donald Trump, some of his most fervent supporters. The idea that at some moments, these people, even as they were throwing around these conspiracy theories and trying to figure out, is there some way that we can sell the public on this idea that this election was rigged, that it was fraudulent.
There are moments where you see real doubt, sort of creep in as these people are having these conversations. I think so many people that tune into coverage about January 6 and the election. They sort of wonder out loud, how is it possible that so many people around the president, surely these are smart people, people who must know better. How is it that they ended up being so complicit? And you get a real picture of that from these text messages.
BASH: Complicit? I mean, what about your reporting on Mike Lee, that's the ultimate and complicit?
RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And what the texts all laid out show us, right? The reason that Mark Meadows is so important to the January 6 investigation. He is the nexus between all these different factions of Republicans and conservative leaning people that wanted to prevent the certification of the election results.
He had a foot in Congress. He is a former member of Congress. He had a foot in the campaign directly involved in talking to Bill Stepien and other people that were involved in the campaign, Jason Miller. And then of course, he was the White House chief of staff. So that meant a direct line to the president and to members of his family.
And getting back to your point about these members of Congress that were actively involved in this, and to your point, MJ, you know, Senator Mike Lee was for it until he was against it, right up until the very end was pushing this idea that there was a way to prevent the certification of the election. It didn't end up happening, but that is in large part why so much anger was on display on January 6 because people believe it could happen.
BASH: And you missed one group of people, conservative talk show hosts on another network, Sean Hannity, tell us about those texts?
GANGEL: So, he's actually - Sean Hannity is actually one of the people Meadows texts with the most, there are more than 80 text exchanges. It starts right on election day. What's interesting is that Sean Hannity both seems to give advice. Now he's a well-known friend of the president, but he also seems to take some direction from Meadows.
This is on election day. Sean Hannity, hey, North Carolina going to be OK. Meadows, stress, every vote matters. Get out and vote on radio. Hannity as a radio show. Hannity replies, yes sir, on it. Any place in particular, we need to push. Meadows, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Arizona. Hannity, yep. Meadows, Nevada. Hannity, got it.