The House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol attack voted unanimously to move forward with criminal contempt of Congress charges against former President Trump’s Chief of Staff Mark Meadows over his refusing to comply with a subpoena to testify.
The panel, made up of nine lawmakers, voted 9-0 to move forward with the resolution. The contempt resolution is expected to come to the House floor for a full vote on Tuesday.
During the hour-long meeting, the committee showed texts sent between Meadows and lawmakers, Fox News personalities, and Trump’s elder son, Donald Trump Jr., that he had received in real-time during the events unfolding on the day of Jan. 6, urging the former president action.
Committee Chairman Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS) delivered a blistering statement before the panel approved the contempt referral.
“Whatever legacy Meadows thought he left in the House, this is his legacy now. His former colleagues singled him out for criminal prosecution because he wouldn’t answer questions about what he knows about a brutal attack on our democracy. That’s his legacy,” Thompson said.
The panel targeted Meadows largely because they believe as Chief of Staff, he spent much of Jan. 6 with Trump, meaning that he is likely to have knowledge of the former president’s thinking of that day. Meadows had first agreed to cooperate, turning over thousands of pages of emails and texts to the House committee before ditching a subpoena to appear for a deposition last week.
Through his attorney, Meadows announced last week that he would no longer cooperate with the House panel, citing the former Chief of Staff would no longer be answering questions, stating private conservation with Trump is protected by executive privilege.
“We agreed to provide thousands of pages of responsive documents, and Mr. Meadows was willing to appear voluntarily, not under compulsion of the Select Committee’s subpoena to him, for a deposition to answer questions about non-privileged matters. Now actions by the Select Committee have made such an appearance untenable,” Meadows’ attorney, George Terwilliger, said in a letter to the committee.
“In short, we now have every indication from the information supplied to us last Friday — upon which Mr. Meadows could expect to be questioned — that the Select Committee has no intention of respecting boundaries concerning Executive Privilege,” Terwilliger added.
The former Chief Of Staff has also sued committee members and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), claiming the investigation is “overly broad and unduly burdensome.”
“The Select Committee acts absent any valid legislative power and threatens to violate longstanding principles of executive privilege and immunity that are of constitutional origin and dimension,” Meadows says in the court filing suing the House Select Committee and Pelosi.
Thompson said that Meadows left the committee with “no choice but to advance contempt proceedings” after he stopped cooperating with the panel.
On Sunday, the panel released a 51-page report and resolution outlining its recommendation to hold Meadows in contempt of Congress, stating his role as Chief of Staff made him a crucial witness to conversations members of the Trump administration had with rally organizers leading up to Jan. 6 and the events that transpired on the day. The report alleges that Meadows sent an email on Jan. 5 to an unidentified individual about the events on Jan. 6, and the National Guard would be present on standby to “protect pro-Trump people.”
“Mr. Meadows was in contact with at least some of the private individuals who planned and organized a January 6 rally, one of whom reportedly may have expressed safety concerns to Mr. Meadows about January 6 events. Mr. Meadows used his personal cell phone to discuss the rally in the days leading up to January 6,” Thompson wrote in the 51-page report.
It is the panel’s third threat of criminal prosecution made in recent weeks against noncooperative witnesses. The committee was ready to move forward with holding former Department of Justice official Jeffrey Clark in contempt but gave him another chance to testify as he says hJan. 6s to plead the Fifth. In October, the committee approved a criminal contempt report against former Trump advisor, Steve Bannon after he refused to comply with a subpoena deadline.
Once a criminal contempt referral clears the House select committee, it heads to the Democratic-led House for a full vote. Since that vote will succeed, with GOP Reps. Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, both members of the Jan. 6 panel, Pelosi will then certify the criminal contempt report to the Department of Justice to “bring the matter before the grand jury for its action.”