The Ohio congressman Jim Jordan has been identified as the Republican who sent a message to Donald Trump’s chief of staff Mark Meadows the day before the deadly 6 January US Capitol riots outlining a plan to stop Joe Biden – the legitimate winner of the presidential election – from reaching the White House.
The House select committee investigating the insurrection has been looking at numerous messages sent to Meadows on and around that day, many of which were from Trump supporters urging the then-president to call off a mob of his supporters as they ransacked the Capitol building.
Meadows, whose role in events has become a central plank of the investigation, and who provided many of the messages to the committee, is facing possible contempt of Congress charges for withdrawing his cooperation.
Jordan, a staunch Trump ally whom Republicans originally wanted to sit on the committee, forwarded a text message to Meadows on 5 January, one of the congressman’s aides has confirmed, containing details of the plot to block Biden.
The message was sent to Jordan by Joseph Schmitz, a former US defense department inspector general who outlined a “draft proposal” to pressure vice-president Mike Pence to refuse to certify audited election returns on 6 January.
A portion of the message was shown by Democratic committee member Adam Schiff on Tuesday. It read: “On January 6, 2021, Vice-President Mike Pence, as president of the Senate, should call out all electoral votes that he believes are unconstitutional as no electoral votes at all.”
The plotters falsely believed Pence had the constitutional authority to reject the election results and allow rival slates of electors from Republicans in states that Biden won to decide the outcome. Pence refused to do so, and has since been castigated by Trump and his allies.
Jordan was one of five Republicans rejected from serving on the committee by Nancy Pelosi, the House speaker who instead appointed Trump critics Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger. Some commentators say the move “saved” the committee’s integrity.
The panel has accelerated its inquiries in recent days and weeks, issuing dozens of subpoenas, interviewing more than 300 witnesses and reviewing more than 30,000 documents as it attempts to tie Trump to the events of 6 January.
A clearer picture has emerged of the involvement of Trump loyalists, including senior Republican party officials such as Jordan, in the coup attempt, with questions swirling this week particularly over the role of Meadows.
Trump’s former chief of staff is revealed to have received numerous messages on the day of the riot from Republican politicians, Fox News television personalities such as Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham, and the president’s son Donald Trump Jr.
The text from Trump Jr was succinct. “We need an Oval address. He has to lead now. It has gone too far and gotten out of hand. He’s got to condemn this shit asap.”
Meadows replied: “I’m pushing it hard. I agree.”
Schiff, a California Democrat who led the prosecution in the Senate at Trump’s first impeachment in January 2020, has argued that Meadows was at the heart of the pressure campaign on Pence, and voted for him to face contempt charges for his refusal to explain it.
“You can see why this is so critical to ask Mr Meadows about,” Schiff said during the committee’s presentation on Tuesday.
“About a lawmaker suggesting that the former vice-president simply throw out votes that he unilaterally deems unconstitutional in order to overturn a presidential election and subvert the will of the American people.”
This article was amended on 16 December 2021 to correct an error in the headline.