Nationalist faction within the White House feuded with Mark Meadows amid plot to keep Trump in power
Peter Navarro, President Trump’s former trade advisor was indicted for contempt of Congress on Friday due to his refusal to cooperate with the January 6th Committee, which has signaled interest in his communications with the president.
Less attention has been paid to Garrett Ziegler, a Navarro aide and zealous Trump loyalist who both supported his boss’ efforts and coordinated with a network of outside operatives who were promoting an onslaught of false claims about election fraud and legally dubious schemes to preserve Trump’s hold on power.
Ziegler received an email from the senior investigative counsel for the committee, which is scheduled to begin public hearings on June 9, requesting a meeting to discuss information he might have that is relevant to the congressional investigation.
Among his extensive efforts from his office at the White House, Ziegler facilitated a now-infamous late-night meeting on Dec. 18, 2020 in which attorney Sidney Powell, retired Lt. General Michael Flynn and former Overstock.com CEO Patrick Byrne tried to persuade President Trump to order the National Guard to seize voting machines and re-running elections in six battleground states he lost to Joe Biden.
Ziegler used his White House Worker and Visitor Entry System, or WAVES pass to let Powell, Flynn and Byrne into the White House, allowing them to hold an impromptu meeting with Trump in the Oval Office, as he later recounted in an interview with fellow election denier David Clements. Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and White House Counsel Pat Cipollone were caught by surprise by the meeting, which reportedly descended into a shouting match. Ziegler’s efforts bypassed protocol for White House meetings, and he said when it was discovered that he had let the plotters into the White House, his visitor’s privileges were revoked.
In Navarro’s book In Trump Time, he wrote that “to support the challenge effort, he allowed “several members of my staff to help out in the battleground states on their own time.” Navarro’s book describes “the young and always earnest” Ziegler venturing to an Indian reservation in Nevada to investigate alleged vote-buying shortly after the election. The work eventually culminated in the three-part Navarro Report, which asserted without evidence that the election had been stolen from Trump.
Around the time of the election, a man named Mark Cook took a photograph of cardboard boxes stacked on metal shelves that were labeled “Dominion Voting” and “Made in China.”
“My good friend Mark Cook took this picture,” Ziegler, who is now 26, wrote on his Telegram channel in June 2021. “We infiltrated the election equipment storage facility in Sacramento County, CA, and documented all of the violations of law.”
Cook’s photograph would later be used on the final page of a PowerPoint presentation entitled “Election Fraud, Foreign Interference & Options for 6 JAN” put together by Phil Waldron, a retired Army colonel with a background in psychological warfare that was shown to members of Congress on Jan. 4 and 5, 2021. The presentation recommended that Vice President Mike Pence set aside the electoral votes from the six battleground states carried by Biden, and also called on President Trump to order the National Guard to seize voting machines and re-count the ballots.
For his part, Cook remains active in the election denial movement. Last month, he and Clements, a former New Mexico State University professor, addressed a Republican-controlled board of commissioners in Surry County, NC. Introduced by Clements as “our hardware and IT cybersecurity expert,” Cook told commissioners: “If our Pentagon can’t secure a network, Department of Defense can’t secure a network, our Department of Homeland Security can’t secure a network, are we really so foolish as to think the only system that is completely impervious to any cyber-hack is our voting system?”
Cook’s 25-minute presentation omitted a simple fact — voting tabulation machines are not networked, and preliminary counts are transferred on a mobile drive to a computer to be uploaded from local election offices for election-night reporting.
Both Ziegler and Cook were trusted associates in the network of operatives and conspiracy theorists that worked under the competing legal teams headed by Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and by Powell, alongside Flynn and Byrne.
In a private Telegram text to another election denier that has been reviewed by Raw Story, Waldron said, “Mark and Garrett have worked with us since 14 Nov 20.” He added that Ziegler and Cook “both passed rigorous background checks” after suspicions arose that CIA and British intelligence assets were attempting to infiltrate the network plotting to overturn the election.
“I have no idea what Waldron was alluding to,” Ziegler told Raw Story in an email. “None. I had an active [top secret/sensitive compartmented information] clearance at the time. I think he was just spinning a tale for others.”
Waldron declined to comment for this story.
Michael Trimarco, a Giuliani associate who rented a bloc of rooms at the Westin Arlington Gateway hotel in November 2020, also alluded to a dual role on Ziegler’s part in an interview with the far-right podcaster Ann Vandersteel earlier this year.
“I know some of the people that were his direct reports, because he wasn’t officially reporting directly to Peter,” Trimarco told Vandersteel. “So, I know some of these other people. And politically that didn’t make people around in Peter’s world very happy with Garrett in the inter-office kinda…. But from what I saw, he was well connected with Peter… and I know he furnished a lot of information for the report.”
While enmeshed with the outside election denial network, Ziegler also provided the external teams with a direct conduit to the White House and President Trump, to the extent that Trimarco said information about election irregularities would often reach Trump before even Giuliani knew about it.
“Ironically, a lot of the stuff that got back to Rudy didn’t end up coming through me,” Trimarco said. “Because once that connection was made, Garrett would give it to Peter, and Peter would give it to the president. And then it would circle back to Rudy.”
In his interview with Clements, Ziegler dated work on the three-part Navarro Report to Nov. 15 — one day after Waldron said he had started working with Ziegler. Ziegler said he and four other aides assisted Navarro with the reports.
“We prepared — Peter gave direction,” Ziegler told Clements. “He’s a fantastic, logical thinker, which is very hard — easier said than done. He laid it out, what his vision was. And our job was to get the first draft.”
Much of the information in the reports was funneled up from the outside team, Trimarco said.
“Peter put out a three-volume report together, and a lot of the information — not all of it — came from this group of analysts that work working out of the Westin that did not go to Tomotley,” Trimarco said, referencing attorney Lin Wood’s estate in South Carolina, where Powell and Flynn established a working headquarters away from DC.
One day after Powell, Flynn and Byrne’s Dec. 18 visit to the White House to promote their plan to have the National Guard seize voting machines and re-run the election, Trump tweeted out a link to the Navarro Report, with an invitation to his supporters to attend a “wild rally” in DC on Jan. 6, 2021.
Similar to his former boss, since leaving the White House Ziegler has continued to deride a coterie of officials he considers weak and insufficiently loyal to the president. In interviews and Telegram messages, Ziegler has particularly singled out Meadows for savage criticism.
In Telegram message in late January 2021, Ziegler wrote that he feared Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg would take control of the country and impose a dystopian “technocracy.”
“And I can assure you, from my standpoint in the WH, I did everything I could to prevent this,” Ziegler said. “I broke rules, protocol, etc. If I had a decade more of life under my belt, I would have had the formal power to get rid of Meadows, Cipollone, etc.”
Ziegler’s Telegram messages suggest he viewed Meadows as an obstacle to efforts to overturn the election. In one message, in February 2021, Ziegler faulted Meadows for citing an audit in Georgia as evidence of due diligence, writing that the chief of staff was “so fckn dumb (or compromised)” that he didn’t question whether an auditing company could be corrupted by “mob-like cartels.”
Like Navarro, who was indicted for contempt of Congress on Friday, Meadows is fighting a subpoena from the January 6th Committee. Last December, the House voted to hold Meadows in contempt, referring his case to the Justice Department for prosecution.
Meadows played a critical role in shepherding an array of schemes entertained by Trump in his quest to hold onto power. That included hosting meetings with the president and members of the House Freedom Caucus to discuss a plan — much like Navarro’s “Green Bay Sweep” — to pressure Vice President Mike Pence to remand the electoral votes back to the battleground states and delay certifying the election for Biden, according to testimony to the January 6th Committee by White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson. Meadows also hosted a meeting in which Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.), who is now the chair of the Freedom Caucus, expressed support for the idea of sending Trump supporters to the Capitol on Jan. 6, while others in the meeting remained silent, the New York Times has reported. Hutchinson also reportedly testified to the committee that she saw Meadows burn documents in his office fireplace after a meeting with Perry.
Ziegler has positioned himself to the right of the ultraconservative Freedom Caucus, of which Meadows was a chair before he left Congress to serve as Trump’s chief of staff.
“He’s a Freedom Caucus guy,” Ziegler complained to Clements during his July 2021 interviewed. “And what this means is — I call them ‘permanent hearing holders.’ So, Benghazi, Killary…. Nobody ever gets indicted with these jokers. Mark Meadows comes from that ilk…. So, how does this relate to the president’s chief of staff? He just wasn’t effective. He would get steamrolled by people.”
Much of Ziegler’s rhetoric on Telegram is laced with racist vitriol that uses African nations as a stand-in for national decline, while Christian chauvinism as force for national rebirth.
“If we elect people like Mark Meadows — good, jolly, your brother next door — we’re gonna end up like Zimbabwe,” Ziegler said. “If I could do one thing — which is stop electing nice guys. We need Christian zealots, frankly.”
Ziegler expressed a similar sentiment in a March 2021 Telegram message, in which he wrote, “We could have a Third Great Awakening in the country, both religious and political. And the coup we just went through could be the flint that ignites it. Hopefully its ends will be a repentance to the Christ and a Republic that gets rid of this corrupt and satanic Oligarchy.”
Beyond the Dec. 18, 2020 meeting he arranged at the White House, Ziegler said he tried to help Powell get to the president on different occasion.
“I walked Sidney over to the residence one to try to get the president a binder full of evidence,” Ziegler said on a podcast in February 2021. “And we got blocked again there, too.”
Ziegler recalled that he would tell anyone who would listen to him in the White House: “Let’s just go look at the ballots. We don’t have to do it. Have the National Guard in Georgia do it.”
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