Donald Trump’s former Chief-of-staff Mark Meadows, who was also a Congressman from North Carolina, has never been the sharpest tool in the shed. He once dumped money into an organization that believes the earth is only 6,000 years old and that humans lived side-by-side with dinosaurs. Now it appears he created a Powerpoint that outlined plans to end our democracy by staging a coup to keep Donald Trump in office. 

Meadows gave the Powerpoint, as well as other damning communications, to the House Select Committee to Investigate the Jan. 6 Attack on the Capitol. He surrendered the documents to the committee after agreeing to cooperate with the investigation. After they received them, Meadows changed his mind and is no longer cooperating. The Committee has moved to hold Meadows in contempt of Congress. 

In speculating why he would turn over such incriminating material and then abruptly stop working with the committee, Rolling Stone Magazine added, “It’s also possible that Meadows just isn’t very bright.” Bingo. 

The Powerpoint is titled, “Election fraud, Foreign Interference & Options for 6 JAN.” In it, slides outline options for undermining the certification of the election. Three options depend on then-Vice President Mike Pence somehow appointing bogus electors or delaying the counting of the electors. Another slide titled “Recommendations” calls on Trump to declare a state of emergency claiming that voting systems have been taken over by “foreign influence” despite evidence to the contrary. 

The documents Meadows disclosed paint a clear and undeniable intent to overturn the election and the will of the voters. They also indicate that Trump was, at the very least, aware of the planning. In another age, Meadows would be in chains awaiting trial and, quite possibly, execution. That the country is not shocked and outrage says a lot about the worrisome state of our nation.

Nobody seems to be taking these actions seriously except the members of the House committee. Republican member Liz Cheney says the hearings “will tell the story of the riot at the Capitol in ‘vivid color.’” I hope she’s right, but I’m skeptical that the public will give the attempted coup the attention it deserves.

The right is pushing back with a disinformation campaign to discredit the hearings to the Republican base. The GOP establishment is unwilling to stand up to the populists who are ascendant in the party and trying to downplay the actions of Meadows, Trump, and other plotters. And the Democratic Party is enmeshed in an internal squabble between the moderates and the left flank, seemingly far more concerned about social policies than protecting democracy. 

Reporter Barton Gellman wrote a piece for the Atlantic that claims, “January 6 was practice. Donald Trump’s GOP is much better positioned to subvert the next election.” The article is carefully documented and depicts a base that is easily misled by disinformation, lacking the critical thinking skills to discern what’s true and what’s distortion. Gellman describes a party that’s no longer based on ideology but driven by loyalty to Donald Trump. “The party is in his thrall. No opponent can break it and few will try.” It’s a disturbing article because so much rings true.

Gellman later said that his article is not a prediction, but a warning. Americans must protect our democracy and recognize the threat. Holding people accountable for January 6 is key to achieving that goal. Mark Meadows laid out the nefarious desires and intentions of the Trump White House. We cannot look away now or we risk an end to the American experiment as we’ve known it.  

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