In a new memoir, Donald Trump’s former chief of staff Mark Meadows doubles down on the baseless claim the 2020 election was stolen and whitewashed the violent attack on the US Capitol by Trump supporters on January 6, according to a copy of the book obtained by CNN.
The book, titled “The Chief’s Chief,” spans nearly 300 pages and is set to be released next week. Meadows vigorously defends his former boss and peddles many of the debunked claims about alleged voter fraud and ballot irregularities that fueled the insurrection in the first place.
Meadows absolves Trump of responsibility for the attack, giving just cursory details and echoing unfounded claims about the events of the day.
Throughout the memoir, Meadows describes work-related conversations with Trump from his time at the White House, including private discussions about the election, efforts to find voter fraud and Trump’s speech at the Ellipse near the White House on January 6.
Meadows previously told the House select committee investigating the attack that conversations like these are shielded by executive privilege — but these new disclosures in his new memoir could undermine his privilege claims, said House Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff.
“He clearly is waiving any claim he has to keep confidential his communications with the former President or what happened in the White House,” Schiff, a California Democrat who is on the House select committee, told CNN’s Don Lemon on Thursday. “After all, if he can say it in a book, why he can’t he say it before Congress in an investigation?”
Meadows is cooperating with the committee on some aspects of its subpoena, but privilege-related issues still aren’t settled. His attorney didn’t respond to questions Friday about whether Trump waived privilege for those portions of the book.
The book touches on other key topics from the last year of Trump’s presidency, ranging from Trump’s battles with Pentagon leadership, the swift confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett, and the disputed timeline regarding Trump’s positive test for Covid-19 shortly before debating Joe Biden in fall 2020.
Absolving Trump of January 6
The penultimate chapter of the book contains Meadows’ perspective surrounding January 6.
“The idea to gather on January 6 was organic,” Meadows wrote, although he didn’t discuss the Trump campaign officials, donors, informal advisers and family members deeply involved in the planning.
“(Trump) did not call for violence and he did not expect anyone would enter the Capitol Building,” Meadows claims, even though Trump explicitly encouraged his supporters to march to the Capitol and “fight like hell” against the lawmakers who refused to overturn Biden’s electoral victory.
Meadows only revealed one conversation with Trump from January 6, saying that Trump ad-libbed when he said: “we’re going to walk down” to the Capitol, “and I’ll be there with you.”
“When he got off stage, President Trump let me know that he had been speaking metaphorically about the walk to the Capitol,” Meadows wrote. “He knew as well as anyone that we couldn’t organize a trip like that on such short notice. It was clear the whole time that he didn’t actually intend to walk down Pennsylvania Avenue with the crowd.”
The book correctly notes that only a fraction of rallygoers ended up inside the Capitol, and that some people were already wreaking havoc at the Capitol before Trump finished speaking.
But Meadows’ narrative that the throngs of supporters didn’t take Trump’s comments seriously has been contradicted by many of the rioters themselves. According to court filings, many of the rioters later said in FBI interviews that they didn’t plan to go to the Capitol but were inspired by Trump’s speech, and that they expected he would be there too.
He summed up the insurrection as “shameful” and “regrettable” but claimed the violence was orchestrated by “a small group of people” and “a handful of fanatics.” Officials have said roughly 2,000 people breached the Capitol that day, and more than 680 people have been charged with federal crimes. There were hundreds of assaults against police officers, leading to 140 injuries.
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