One week until the Jan. 6th public hearings begin, and judging just by the leaked stories we've seen, they're shaping up to be real bombshells. Last night, Anderson Cooper had NSA-trained data analyst and former GOP congressman Denver Riggleman as his guest to explain how he's been analyzing Mark Meadows text messages -- and what he's learned. It's not reassuring for democracy.
"Former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows have been a key source of information as he provided thousands of text messages to the committee. How valuable has the information he provided been to covering how extensive the attempts to overturn the election were?" Cooper asked.
"My team was the first to actually see the Meadows text messages when we are able to link the number of names together and we got the thousand text messages," Riggleman said.
"What I think people will understand is how horrible they are. I have to tell you this, Anderson, my amusement turned into horror when I saw some of the language being used. I had to get away from my computer a couple of times as I was looking at these text messages. It's almost a road map. Mark Meadows is the MVP for the committee. They should pay him. The data we got actually allowed us to structure the investigation."
Cooper asked how they connected the text messages to names.
"Congressman was just my cover," Riggleman said.
"My background was in the intelligence community for 20 years. I was trained in NSA and I was trained with Air Force special projects. When they brought me on, Liz and the Pelosi team, they understand I had this background that was very unique for somebody in Congress. So I wrote the contracts for the phone record team and the contract for the open source intelligence research team. Put the funding together because I was the CEO and I did do program management for those types of programs.
"I was able to hand pick those teams. All these people have been helping with these contracts with these analysis and contracts are the best individuals I have ever met. We had to build an unclassified lab that tried to mimic a classified lab. We were able to do that on a limited budget and I am very proud," he said.
He said they were effective in linking data to thousands of names, helping to write the subpoenas and detail records and identifying other high value assets "that were in the ecosystem at that time."
"You said right before that you were so troubled by what you saw that you had to step away from your computer. What did you mean? What did you see that was so troubling?" Cooper asked.
"I think, and I said before, you start with, can people can actually believe these things? I was looking at former colleagues that were sending horrific things what I would say foreign disinformation videos from YouTube, Rumble or Parler, I was looking at things that was like a holy war within the text messages themselves," Riggleman said.
"These are members of Congress," Cooper said.
"That's correct, you are talking about group texts and donors. I would get something that might be as crazy as 'the orchard storming the bridge and we need to have some spells and stop the monkey birds from attacking us.' I would have someone high up of the Trump administration, 'oh, that's interesting, I wonder if it was true.' It was not just spiritual warfare and Qanon or religiousity or conspiracy theory. Those people in those messages and when you see them, Anderson, it really is a road map but it's also something that you really have to try to get your arms around it.
"I read those text messages so many times, you feel like you are reading a fantasy novel. I think people have to understand the committee has an amazing challenge to try to get around the horror of those text messages. And it is horror. These are the people that are serving our government and you can see on -- you see how Qanon and other conspiracy theories have inundated the Republican party all the way up to the highest levels of power. It is absolutely stunning that these individuals are in a position of power, making policies."
"What you're describing sounds like people within the government talking about a coup about our democracy," Cooper said.
Riggleman said when he first started, he was reluctant to use that term "because I wanted to see the data."
"The term I like to use is 'coup-like movement.' Looking at the activities between people, we call the center of gravity. So many people communicating and the links and analysis is massive. What the committee has to do, because we are limited in our authorities, there are disinformation out there that we can see content or we got geo locations. We had to use data platform to recreate and find that type of data. We are limited of what we can see. What we can see is absolutely damning. The committee has to put all those notes together and all the endpoints that are people and organizations and link with thousands of interviews they did and e-mails and also the massive amount of data that we have been able to aggregate and analyze.
"That's important for people to understand the challenge for this committee is that they may not uncover everything. I would say we need another year to look at the amount of data we have to see how deep it is."
"Based on what you have seen, can you say how high you think this effort is to overturn the election goes? Does the committee have information about the former president's involvement that we don't already know?" Cooper asked.
"I don't want to take the committee's thunder but I will tell you this. What the American people should watch out for, and I can refer to those text messages, when you see text messages that have all three branches of the government involved, the one that bothered me was the chief of staff, the wife of a sitting Supreme Court justice, a chief of staff of a congressman, when you talk about horror or concerns. You talk about type of language they are using -- saying this is a call to arms, this is our Omaha Beach, the five most chilling words was the first text, 'I hope this is true,' I would say the committee is going to have the committee to see what's going on there and I guess it is just so troubling because the issue is that these were policy makers at the top levels of government."