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Denver Riggleman: Meadows' text trove revealed a "roadmap to an attempted coup"

Riggleman on Meadows’ text trove
Riggleman: Meadows’ text trove revealed a “roadmap to an attempted coup” | 60 Minutes 02:50

This week on 60 Minutes, correspondent Bill Whitaker interviewed Denver Riggleman, a former senior technical adviser for the House Select Committee investigating the January 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol, about what he learned while investigating the insurrection. 

In his position, Riggleman oversaw a data-driven operation for the committee that used digital clues, including phone records, e-mails, social media posts, and text messages related to the attack on the Capitol. That included a trove of more than 2,000 text messages provided to the committee by President Trump's Chief of Staff, Mark Meadows. 

Riggleman, an ex-military intelligence officer and former Republican congressman from Virginia, told 60 Minutes his analysis of the Meadows' text messages lead him to believe they were a "roadmap to an attempted coup."

"With your background in information analysis, when you read these texts, what does that sound like to your trained ear?" Whitaker asked.

"It sounded like, honestly, the way that they talked, and the way that they referred to this, this 'epic struggle,' almost sounded like me looking at foreign terrorist groups in my past," Riggleman said.

Riggleman said the "a-ha" moment for him came when his team discovered the White House switchboard connected a call to a Capitol rioter's phone on January 6, 2021.

Riggleman stopped working for the January 6 committee in April. The committee told 60 Minutes that it "has run down all the leads…that arose from his work."

The committee's full statement to 60 Minutes on Riggleman's work can be found below. 

"In his role on the Select Committee staff, Mr. Riggleman had limited knowledge of the Committee's investigation. He departed from the staff in April prior to our hearings and much of our most important investigative work. He told the Committee he was departing in order to help the people of Ukraine in their war against Russia. Since his departure, the Committee has run down all the leads and digested and analyzed all the information that arose from his work. We will be presenting additional evidence to the public in our next hearing this coming Wednesday, and a thorough report will be published by the end of the year."


Riggleman: Ginni Thomas’ beliefs were an “open secret around the beltway” | 60 Minutes 02:35

One of the key breakthroughs Riggleman said his team made while working for the January 6 committee was determining the names and ownership of phone numbers for text messages that President Trump's Chief of Staff, Mark Meadows, provided the committee.

When the matching processes was completed, Riggleman said it revealed a series of text messages sent to Meadows by Ginni Thomas, a Republican activist and the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. 

Ms. Thomas's text messages to Meadows included links tied to far-right conspiracies. Riggleman characterized the texts as, "a gallop through fever dream daisies." 

"It was an open secret around the beltway that her views had gotten pretty extreme," Riggleman said about Ms. Thomas. "What really shook me was the fact that if Clarence agreed with or was even aware of his wife's efforts, all three branches of government would be tied to the stop the steal movement. All three branches."

"For me in intelligence, there's always the possible and the probable," Riggleman said. "Is it possible that Clarence Thomas had no idea of the activities of Ginni Thomas over decades as a Republican activist? Possible. Had no idea about what was going on during the election and Biden and Trump and her connections to the administration? Possible. Is it probable? I just can't even get my arms of that being probable."

Riggleman said he has no evidence that Clarence Thomas was involved in any of Ginni Thomas' efforts to overturn the 2020 Presidential election. 

Riggleman said while working for the committee he lobbied Vice Chair Liz Cheney to subpoena Ms. Thomas.

Last week, lawyers for Ginni Thomas said she will participate in a "voluntary meeting" with the committee.


Why a former January 6 committee senior staffer is speaking out | 60 Minutes 01:59

Denver Riggleman, a former member of the House Freedom Caucus, was endorsed by President Trump and lost his 2020 House re-election bid after officiating a same-sex marriage between two campaign staffers. He left the Republican party in June and told 60 Minutes he labels himself as politicly "unaffiliated." 

While serving in the House, Riggleman voted with President Trump more than 90% of the time. He told 60 Minutes his loyalty was sometimes questioned when he would reach across the aisle. Since leaving Congress, Riggleman has spoken out against Mr. Trump.

"Hating him or liking him really doesn't matter to me," Riggleman said of Mr. Trump. "What matters to me what the actions were, and do we have data and facts to back up the fact that that individual tried to run coup-like movements against the United States of America. And that this individual [Mr. Trump] has a propensity to lie, and to amplify conspiracy theories from troll farms, and make that part of his White House package. Yes, proven, done. Let's move on and get him out of here, let's actually have adults come back in charge, right? Let's have those individuals come back that are facts-based, and not huffing glue all day. And I think that's where we need to be."

Riggleman's new book, The Breach, recounts his time and work for the January 6 committee, and will be released on Tuesday.

"I'm in a unique position because I say, 'Well, I know what's going on, right?' I not only was on the committee; I was in Congress; I was in meetings with President Trump. I got insight," Riggleman told 60 Minutes. "This is what I was trained to do. Thank you, United States Government. Thank you, United States Air Force. Thank you, United States Congress. And now I get to apply those skills to this problem set." 

The January 6 committee is scheduled to hold a public hearing on Wednesday. 

You can watch Bill Whitaker's full 60 Minutes report on Denver Riggleman below.

Former January 6 committee technical adviser Denver Riggleman: The 60 Minutes Interview 13:43
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