For weeks ahead of the joint session of Congress certifying then-President-elect Joe Biden's victory, conservative elected officials used increasingly dangerous rhetoric to defend Donald Trump's lies that the 2020 election was "stolen" from Republicans.
Trump had presented that day as conservatives' last chance to install him for another term, despite the votes of the American people. He pressured then-Vice President Mike Pence to unilaterally throw out the electoral votes in swing states Trump lost. He held a rally outside the White House that morning, where he urged his supporters to "fight like hell" and march to the Capitol, warning that they wouldn't "even have a country anymore."
Far-right Congresswoman Lauren Boebert of Colorado likened the day to the American Revolution of 1776, in a tweet posted that morning. Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas told supporters three days before the riots that they would not "go quietly into the night." Far-right Alabama Congressman Mo Brooks told rally goers that January 6 was the day so-called patriots began "taking down names and kicking ass."
As history will remember, a mob of pro-Trump extremists stormed the Capitol that day in a deadly failed insurrection after Pence wouldn't comply with Trump's demands to singlehandedly throw out electoral votes. The rioters shattered windows, ransacked offices, smeared excrement across the walls, beat police officers, and called for the deaths of any elected official they deemed disloyal to Trump.
In the 13 months since the insurrection, more details about the chaos of that day and its origins have become public, especially as the House Select Committee investigating the insurrection does its work.
One particularly chilling detail was emphasized in a recent Washington Post report: a text from a member of the House's far-right so-called Freedom Caucus to Trump's chief of staff, Mark Meadows, in the days before the riots.
The text said:
"If POTUS allows this to occur… we’re driving a stake in the heart of the federal republic."
It's unclear what "this" means in the text. It's possible the Freedom Caucus member—like Fox News hosts who texted Meadows as the insurrection unfolded—was delivering a private warning against Trump's election delusions in private while supporting them in public. It's also possible the lawmaker warned against a peaceful transfer of power to Biden.
But what is certain, according to the January 6 Committee, is that the lawmaker was heavily involved in helping Trump hatch a strategy for January 6.
The disclosure of the text is generating buzz across the internet.
People are still calling for accountability after conservative election lies prompted the attack.
It's becoming increasingly clear why so few conservatives are willing to cooperate with the committee's probe.