Eleven days after the January 6, 2021, riot at the US Capitol – and just three days before Joe Biden was set to be sworn in as the 46th president – Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene sent Mark Meadows, chief of staff to then-President Donald Trump, a text message.
“In our private chat with only Members, several are saying the only way to save our Republic is for Trump to call for Marshall (sic) law. I don’t know on those things. I just wanted you to tell him. They stole this election. We all know. They will destroy our country next. Please tell him to declassify as much as possible so we can go after Biden and anyone else!” Greene wrote to Meadows on January 17, 2021.
The text was one of the more than 2,000 messages Meadows sent or received between Election Day 2020 and Biden’s inauguration that CNN obtained. (Meadows did not appear to respond to this text from Greene.)
Ok, so first things first: it’s spelled “martial” law, not “Marshall” law. And just in case you skipped your high school civics class, invoking martial law means essentially putting the military in charge rather than civilian authorities. It’s usually used only in cases of war or natural disaster. It’s not the sort of thing that you throw around loosely – or at least, that you should throw around loosely, especially if you don’t know how to spell it.
Now, let’s take a step back here and consider the context of Greene’s push for martial law.
The US Capitol had been overrun by those denying the 2020 election less than two weeks before Greene sent Meadows this text. Several people ended up dying and more than 100 police officers ended up wounded. It was the first time that the Capitol building had been breached since the war of 1812.
This was, in short, a cataclysm. A fact, it’s worth noting, that Greene seemed to acknowledge while January 6 was unfolding. “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,” she texted Meadows on that day.
And, it was a cataclysm built on, well, nothing. There was not then, nor has there been since, any evidence of widespread voter fraud of the sort that Trump alleged.
Greene’s advocacy for the possibility of invoking martial law also seems to contradict – or at least raise questions about – testimony she gave last Friday under oath about just that question at a hearing about whether she should be disqualified from seeking reelection this year due to her role on January 6.
As CNN’s Marshall Cohen noted, Greene said that she didn’t “recall” and couldn’t “remember” whether she had ever advocated for the use of martial law as a way for Trump to retain power.
The martial law idea had been floated by Trump allies during the post-election period, most notably by former national security adviser Michael Flynn. The idea had even been raised in a contentious Oval Office meeting that Flynn attended in December 2020.
The fact that Greene – and according to her text, “several” members of Congress – were still trying to get the White House to declare martial law just days before a new president was set to be sworn in speaks to just how far they were willing to go to directly undermine the peaceful transition of power and, well, democracy more broadly.
The violent insurrection at the US Capitol didn’t dissuade Greene and her ilk from pushing bogus election theories. It empowered them to go even further, as these texts show. Scary stuff.