Former President Donald Trump’s final boss in the White House, Mark Meadows, has spoken with special counsel Jack Smith’s team at least three times this year, one time before a federal grand jury, which came only after Smith granted Meadows immunity from testifying. Truth, according to sources familiar with the matter.
Those sources said Meadows told Smith’s team that significant vote-rigging allegations against Trump in the weeks after the 2020 presidential election were unsubstantiated, a marked break from Trump’s bombastic rhetoric about the election.
According to sources, Meadows told federal investigators that Trump had been “dishonest” with the public when he first claimed he had won the election hours after the polls closed on November 3, 2020, before the final results came in.
“Obviously we’re not winning,” Meadows quoted a source as telling Smith’s team back.
Trump called Meadows, one of the former president’s closest and highest-ranking aides in the White House, a “great friend” and “a great chief of staff — as good as that gets.”
The descriptions Meadows allegedly told investigators shed further light on the evidence Smith’s team gathered while impeaching Trump for illegally retaining power and “spreading lies” in the 2020 election. The explanations also expose the lengths to which Trump loyalists like Meadows have gone to support and defend Trump.
Sources told ABC News that Smith’s investigators are interested in questioning Meadows about election-related conversations she had during Trump’s final months in office and whether she believed some of the claims she made in a book she published after Trump left office. — a book that promises to “set the record straight” about Trump.
ABC News identified several assertions in the book that appear to contradict what Meadows allegedly told investigators behind closed doors.
According to Meadows’ book, the election was “stolen” and “rigged” with the help of “collies in the liberal media” who “ignored the real evidence of fraud for anyone to access and analyze.”
But as ABC News recounted, Meadows told Smith’s investigators privately that — to date — he had yet to see any evidence of fraud keeping now-President Joe Biden out of the White House, and told them he agreed. With the government rating at the time that the 2020 presidential election was the safest election in American history.
We won this election
Trump questioned the integrity of the election months before Election Day. Then, within hours of the polls closing on November 3, 2020 — as Trump began to lose key states — Trump said on national television that it was all “a big fraud.”
“Obviously, we won this election,” Trump declared.
Meadows told investigators earlier this year that he had long believed Trump was being dishonest when he made that statement, given the fact that votes were still being counted and results from many states were not yet in.
Yet in the weeks after the election, public testimony showed that Meadows helped Trump uncover fraud allegations that led to Trump from the likes of Rudy Giuliani, whom Trump charged with legal efforts to keep Trump in the White House.
But in mid-December, Meadows said she privately informed Trump that Giuliani had not produced any evidence to support many of the allegations he was making, the sources said. Then-Attorney General Bill Barr told Trump and Meadows in an Oval Office meeting that the election fraud allegations “didn’t pan out,” as Barr described in testimony to Congress last year.
Meadows has said publicly that he believes “many of the allegations” still require “further investigation” and that he has “not come to a conclusion” about the election as a whole by the end of December.
By then, Trump had run out of legal opportunities. On December 11, 2020, when the U.S. Supreme Court rejected his final court challenge, Trump recalled to investigators that Meadows said, “So that’s the end of it” or “So that’s it,” according to sources. .
Still, Trump wouldn’t back down, insisting there was widespread fraud, but the Justice Department “wasn’t looking for it,” Barr recalled.
When speaking with investigators, Meadows was specifically asked whether Trump ever admitted to losing the election. Meadows told investigators she never heard Trump say that, according to sources.
Jan. 2, 2021, Meadows helped set up the now-infamous phone call between Trump and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensberger, during which Trump pressed Raffensberger to “find 11,780 votes…we won the state.”
Meadows publicly said he introduced everyone on the call — which is corroborated by declassified transcripts of the call — and said he was trying to help them resolve the dispute over Georgia’s election results.
In the call, Trump mentioned allegations of fraudulent ballots hidden in suitcases, which the Justice Department had already “taken a hard look at” and dismissed, according to Barr’s testimony.
As ABC News recounted, Meadows told Smith’s investigators that at the time, he wanted to resign several times out of concern that the way some of the fraud allegations were being handled could have a negative impact — but he ultimately did not. Because he wanted to help ensure a peaceful transfer of power.
‘Full Size of Lies’
With the help of a ghostwriter, Meadows published his book “The Chief of Chiefs” nearly a year after Trump left office.
“[T]”The sheer volume of falsehoods published about his time as president in the White House is staggering,” the book says. “I see this book as a small opportunity to correct the record.”
Trump promoted the book, releasing a statement in December 2021 saying the book “spends a lot of time talking about the massive election fraud that took place … it’s also been called the crime of the century.”
But sources told ABC News that while speaking with Smith’s investigators, Meadows admitted that he didn’t actually believe some of the statements in his book.
According to sources, Meadows told investigators that he disagreed with what was in his book, saying that “many of our recommendations to the Justice Department were not seriously investigated.”
Meadows told investigators he believes the Justice Department takes fraud allegations seriously, investigates them properly, and does everything they can to find legitimate cases of fraud. Sources said.
Similarly — as sources described to ABC News — while Meadows told investigators that Giuliani never produced evidence of significant election fraud, his book refers to Giuliani’s efforts to expose “fraud and dirty tricks on election night.”
“Those who rigged this election knew that eventually, these irregularities would come to light. [So] They took action and then attacked anyone who dared to question what they had done,” his book says.
Meadows went even further in November 2021 while promoting his book on right-wing media. Asked by the podcast host if he believed the results of the 2020 election were rigged, Meadows responded, “I believe there are a lot of rigged states. … I’ve seen at least some illegal activity in Pennsylvania.” [and] in Georgia” — referring to the two key states that captured the White House for Biden.
Under penalty of perjury, Meadows gave a very different assessment to Smith’s investigators, telling them he had never seen any evidence of fraud that could have undermined the outcome of the election, sources told ABC News.
‘I think these people are very upset’
On January 6, 2021, the final report of the U.S. House Committee investigating the attacks on the U.S. Capitol accused Meadows of including “many deliberate falsehoods” in her book, but the committee’s report focused on allegations about Trump’s actions on that fateful day. , are not claims about elections more broadly.
Parts of what Meadows told investigators were consistent with broader testimony given to the House committee by other top White House aides, including former Meadows aide Cassidy Hutchinson. , 2021.
At one point, as the riot unfolded, Trump called then-House Republican Speaker Kevin McCarthy and told McCarthy, “I think these people are more upset than you,” Meadows confirmed, the sources said.
However, Meadows told investigators Trump seemed more concerned as he learned more about what was happening at the Capitol, and Trump was shocked to hear someone had been shot there, the sources said.
Ashley Babbitt, a Trump supporter, was shot and killed while trying to break through a barricaded entrance near the House room. Other Trump supporters suffered fatal injuries that day, and a law enforcement officer died after trying to secure the Capitol.
Meadows was not charged in Smith’s federal case, which accused him — Trump, Giuliani and 16 others — of trying to sway the state’s election results by officials in Georgia. Four of the accused have already pleaded guilty and agreed to testify for prosecution, while others, including Meadows, Trump and Giuliani, have pleaded not guilty and await trial.
Meadows tried to move the Georgia case against him to federal court, but that effort was denied. He has now appealed the decision.
From 2013 to 2020, Meadows represented North Carolina in Congress, where she led the conservative House Freedom Caucus for two years.
Under an injunction from Smith’s group, information Meadows provided to a grand jury earlier this year cannot be used in a federal prosecution against him.
Trump has pleaded not guilty to an election-related federal lawsuit against him.
A spokeswoman for Smith and an attorney for Meadows declined to comment to ABC News for this story. A spokeswoman for Trump’s presidential campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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