Watergate sleuth Bob Woodward said he is "struck" by one particular text message sent to former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows by a member of Congress on the eve of the Capitol riot.

The journalist drew attention to the Jan. 5 message in which the unidentified sender told Meadows, "Please check your signal," a reference to the encrypted messaging app Signal, during an interview Wednesday on CNN.


Woodward told CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer that people at the National Security Agency told him to get the app. "It is the way that no one will find out what you said or what you ever said. So you destroyed the record," he said.

Woodward, who reported on events surrounding Jan. 6 with Washington Post colleague Robert Costa for their book Peril, also brought up VPNs, or virtual private networks, which he noted NSA officials say "really buries a lot of communication."

The text message is one of many that has been shared with the public by the Jan. 6 committee, which is investigating the Capitol riot on Jan. 6. The House voted Tuesday to hold Meadows in contempt of Congress after he stopped cooperating with the panel, and he faces possible criminal prosecution by the Justice Department.

In its resolution recommending contempt, the Jan. 6 committee listed out questions it wanted to ask Meadows, including "about his use of a signal account, which is reflected in the text messages he produced."

Well-known figures, including Tesla CEO Elon Musk, former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, and onetime NSA contractor Edward Snowden, who is charged in leaks of NSA surveillance, have promoted the use of Signal.

The app has what is called "end-to-end" encryption, and a Forbes report in February explored how law enforcement might be able to gain access to private messages through physical devices.

"If someone is in physical possession of a device and can exploit an unpatched Apple or Google operating system vulnerability in order to partially or fully bypass the lock screen on Android or iOS, they can then interact with the device as though they are its owner," a Signal spokesperson said. "Keeping devices up-to-date and choosing a strong lock screen passcode can help protect information if a device is lost or stolen."

Carl Bernstein, who helped expose the Watergate scandal in the 1970s with Woodward using anonymous sources while at the Washington Post and said Woodward's Trump tapes were more damning than the Nixon tapes, told CNN on Tuesday he believes it is "inevitable" that Republican lawmakers who messaged Meadows will be unmasked.


Jan. 6 committee Chairman Bennie Thompson said Tuesday a decision on whether to release the names will be made "within a week or so," according to CNN. He also said the text messages Meadows gave to the select committee so far are "just House members" when asked if any senators were involved.

One House lawmaker who already has confirmed he sent a text message to Meadows obtained by the Jan. 6 panel is Rep. Jim Jordan, an Ohio Republican.