Rick Perry speech DMN

Rick Perry, former Secretary of Energy and former Texas governor, speaks during the Dallas County Republican Party’s Reagan Day Dinner in Dallas on Feb. 13, 2020.

WASHINGTON — The day after Election Day last year, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows received a text message urging Donald Trump to avoid defeat by prodding allies in three state legislatures to “send their own electors” rather than slates bound to put Joe Biden over the top.

On Friday, CNN identified the author of that message as former Texas governor Rick Perry, who served as energy secretary under Trump.

The text was among several thousand that Meadows had turned over to congressional investigators probing the Jan. 6 riot, when Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol in a desperate, violent effort to block final certification of Biden’s victory.

Certification is typically a formality, and Vice President Mike Pence incurred enormous wrath from Trump by refusing to use his ceremonial role presiding over the count to step in and reject some of Biden’s electors.

Rep. Jamie Raskin, a Maryland Democrat who serves on the House committee investigating the insurrection, read the text message now attributed to Perry on the House floor on Tuesday, before the House voted to hold Meadows in criminal contempt of Congress for refusing to cooperate further — for instance, by explaining messages that suggested a concerted effort to defy the will of the electorate.

Perry has not publicly commented on the report and could not be reached. CNN said a spokesman denied the report. No Perry aide responded to requests for comment Friday evening.

The message read: “HERE’s an AGRESSIVE [sic] STRATEGY: Why can t [sic] the states of GA NC PENN and other R controlled state houses declare this is BS (where conflicts and election not called that night) and just send their own electors to vote and have it go to the SCOTUS.”

Raskin told the House that an unnamed Republican had written it.

“How did this text influence the planning of Mark Meadows and Donald Trump to try to destroy the lawful Electoral College majority that had been established by the people of the United States and the states for Joe Biden?” Raskin asked. “Those are the kinds of questions that we have a right to ask Mark Meadows.”

Trump ended up winning North Carolina by 74,000 votes, collecting 15 electoral votes there. He fell short by just 12,000 in Georgia, which cost 16 electoral votes, and by about 82,000 in Pennsylvania, where Biden scooped up 20 electoral votes.

But all of those states were in doubt on Nov. 4, when Meadows received the text message.

If Perry was agitating behind the scenes for Trump to go to extraordinary lengths to overturn defeat, he was not outspoken on the topic. Unlike Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, he did not speak at the “stop the steal” rally shortly before the Jan. 6 riot. Unlike Sen. Ted Cruz, he didn’t publicly assert that irregularities justified allowing state legislatures controlled by Republicans to submit different electors than those earned by Biden based on the popular vote.

Trump warned for months ahead of Election Day that the only way he could lose was if Democrats cheated, planting seeds of doubt that he stoked after his loss, and which exploded at the Capitol on Jan. 6.

Dozens of state and federal courts rejected the claims, and no evidence of systematic or widespread cheating ever surfaced. Biden collected more votes than any president in history, topping Trump by about 7 million nationwide.

During the fight for the 2016 GOP presidential contest, Trump insisted that Perry be given an IQ test before being allowed into a debate. Perry threw his support to Cruz when he dropped out early. But he fell in line as an enthusiastic surrogate when Trump clinched the nomination — despite having called Trump a “cancer on conservatism,” a demagogue and “a barking carnival act.”

The bad blood set aside in November 2017, Trump picked him for his cabinet, assigning him to the Energy Department — the agency Perry couldn’t remember during a 2011 presidential debate as he listed parts of the federal government he intended to abolish.

That famous “oops” moment was part of a swift collapse of that campaign.

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