There’s Another Trump Coup Memo, and Mark Meadows Was Involved

Trump White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows sent Mike Pence’s top aide a plan to block Biden’s election certification.
Cameron Joseph
Washington, US
Then presidential candidate Donald Trump stands with vice presidential candidate Mike Pence at the Republican National Convention on July 20, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.
Then presidential candidate Donald Trump stands with vice presidential candidate Mike Pence at the Republican National Convention on July 20, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images)

We’re going to need a filing system to organize all these memos.

Trump White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows sent Mike Pence's top aide a memo on New Year's Eve 2020 detailing how then-President Donald Trump wanted the vice president to block Joe Biden's election victory, ABC News reporter Jonathan Karl wrote in his new book.

Advertisement

The memo, drafted by Trump campaign attorney Jenna Ellis, told Pence he should attempt to block the certification of electors from six states that Trump had lost and falsely claimed were stolen from him.

According to Karl, the memo said Pence would give the states a deadline of “7 pm eastern standard time on January 15th” to send back a new set of electors. If the states didn’t comply, Ellis claimed, if any state legislature missed that deadline, “no electoral votes can be opened and counted from that state.”

This memo gives new scope to Trump’s monthslong attempt to stay in power despite losing the 2020 election—and the lengths to which he and his team attempted to go to cause a democratic crisis.

The Ellis-drafted memo was sent just days before Trump attorney John Eastman argued essentially the same thing in a separate, now-famous memo: that Pence should try to disrupt the normal process of certifying the Electoral College’s vote on January 6 in an attempt to throw the decision to the House and keep Trump in power even though he’d lost the election.

The end goal of this anti-democratic effort was to block those states’ Electoral College votes from being counted at all, leaving neither candidate with enough votes to win and throwing the election’s decision to the House—where the GOP had a majority of state delegations and therefore giving Trump the upper hand to win.

The day after Meadows sent the memo to Marc Short, Pence’s chief of staff, Trump aide Johnny McEntee followed up with another memo, titled “Jefferson used his position as VP to win.” That historically inaccurate memo was an obvious attempt to pressure Pence to try to use his position to throw the election to Trump in an auto-coup.

Advertisement

Meadows refused to appear before the House select committee that’s investigating the January 6 riots on Friday, and may face criminal contempt charges as a result.

Trump also confirmed to Karl that he told Pence the morning of January 6, “You can be a patriot or you can be a pussy.”

"I wouldn't dispute it," Trump said when Karl asked about the New York Times’ report of that phone call.

Trump kept ratcheting up the pressure on his vice president until the moment his supporters attacked the U.S. Capitol that day, sacking the building and endangering Pence’s and lawmakers’ lives. Some in the crowd chanted “Hang Mike Pence” as the day unraveled. 

“If Mike Pence does the right thing, we win the election,” Trump told his crowd of supporters at a rally near the Capitol building shortly before the insurrection. “Mike Pence is going to have to come through for us, and if he doesn’t, that will be a sad day for our country.”