The House’s select committee on the January 6 Capitol attack voted 9-0 to hold Mark Meadows in contempt of Congress.
The Monday night vote sets up a full House vote later this week, which if passed, would refer the matter to the Department of Justice.
Prior to the vote, the lawmakers laid out their case against the ex-White House chief of staff, who was at Trump’s side during the January 6th insurrection.
Chairman Bennie Thompson insisted Meadows ‘hasn’t left us any choice.’
‘Mr. Meadows put himself in this situation, he must now accept the consequences,’ he said in his opening remarks.
The January 6 Committee voted 9-0 to hold former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows in contempt of Congress
Rep. Liz Cheney, the select committee’s vice chair, read a number of text messages Meadows gave the committee without claiming privilege.
‘These text messages leave no doubt that the White House knew exactly what was happening here at the Capitol,’ she said.
Cheney read a number of text messages from administration officials, members of Congress, Fox News Channel hosts – including Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham and Brian Kilmeade – and from Donald Trump Jr. urging Meadows to tell President Trump to speak out against the violence.
‘He’s got to condemn this s**t ASAP,’ Trump Jr. reportedly said.
Rep. Adam Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and a select committee member, read more text messages, including an unnamed lawmaker telling Meadows that Vice President Mike Pence should throw out Electoral Votes when chairing the certification session on January 6.
Schiff also called one of the texts ‘chilling,’ when yet another unnamed lawmaker apologized to Meadows for not being able to overturn the election during the certification session – without mentioning the Capitol attack.
‘Yesterday was a terrible day. We tried everything we could in our objection to the six states. I’m sorry. Nothing worked,’ the lawmaker said, according to Schiff.
Several lawmakers on the committee chided Meadows for not cooperating, yet putting ‘part of that story in a book to line his pockets,’ as Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger put it.
Meadows released a book, The Chief’s Chief, earlier this month.
Earlier Monday, Meadow attorney urged the Jan. 6 committee not to pursue criminal charges against the former White House chief of staff, as he argued doing so would be ‘contrary to law.’
‘Such a referral would be contrary to law, manifestly unjust, unwise and unfair,’ attorney George Terwilliger wrote. ‘It would ill-serve the country to rush to judgment on the matter.’
Terwilliger said that a ‘good-faith invocation of executive privilege and testimonial immunity’ is within the bounds of the law for a former administration official.
The committee recommended the contempt charges on Sunday, the same day it released a report showing that Meadows said the National Guard was on standby to ‘protect pro Trump people’ in an email on January 5.
Democratic leaders announced on Thursday that the full House will vote on the contempt measure this happen this week.
Meadows is the third person to face a contempt vote in the House in the Democrat-led committee’s investigation, after ex-Trump adviser Steve Bannon and former DOJ official Jeffrey Clark.
Bannon, Trump’s former White House chief strategist, was indicted on two counts of contempt of Congress by a federal grand jury on November 12 after he refused to appear or hand over any documents.
The committee recommended the contempt charges on Sunday, the same day it released a report showing that Meadows said the National Guard was on standby to ‘protect pro Trump people’ in an email on January 5
Meadows did an about-face last week, deciding at the last minute that he would cease compliance with the committee after he and the committee could not come to agreement on the terms of his testimony, according to his attorney.
But he had already handed over around 6,000 pages of documents.
‘A referral to the Department of Justice based on such an invocation would ignore the statute’s legislative history and historical application, contravene well-established separation of powers principles, and improperly impute a criminal intent to a good-faith actor,’ Terwilliger said Monday.
When Meadows failed to appear for his deposition last Wednesday, the committee announced it would move to refer criminal contempt charges to the Department of Justice.
The former chief of staff, in turn, filed a lawsuit against members of the House Jan. 6 committee and Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
In the case, Meadows accuses the investigators of trying to ‘violate’ the principle of executive privilege that should protect his communications with Trump.
It asks a judge to invalidate two ‘overly broad’ subpoenas and accuses the committee of overreach by issuing a demand to Verizon for his cell phone records.
‘After working with them – trying to work with them – it became obvious over the last 72 hours or so that they continued to plan to delve into both executive privilege and some of the deliberative speech that would have occurred as a result of my interactions with the president and other senior staff and so we had to make the tough decision to say that we’re gonna no longer cooperate,’ Meadows told the Jenna Ellis show.
He said revealing their conversations would set a dangerous precedent.
Reps. Bennie Thompson D-Miss., and Liz Cheney, R-Wisc., said in a statement last week that they had questions about official communications Meadows had carried from his personal accounts, and that he needed to appear over his non-privileged communications.
‘We also need to hear from him about voluminous official records stored in his personal phone and email accounts, which were required to be turned over to the National Archives in accordance with the Presidential Records act.’
‘Even as we litigate privilege issues, the Select Committee has numerous questions for Mr. Meadows about records he has turned over to the Committee with no claim of privilege, which include real-time communications with many individuals as the events of January 6th unfolded,’ Thompson and Cheney wrote in the statement.
In a 51-page report released Sunday, the committee described a series of messages sent by Meadows to various people.
‘Mr. Meadows sent an email [on January 5] to an individual about the events on January 6 and said that the National Guard would be present to ‘protect pro Trump people’ and that many more would be available on standby,’ the report states.
The committee also identified a text message that Meadows sent to a member of Congress in November 2020 ‘regarding efforts to contact state legislators because, as Mr. Meadows indicates in his text messages, quote, ‘POTUS wants to chat with them.”
In the document released Sunday, the committee outlined the questions it would have asked Meadows had he cooperated.
‘The Chief’s Chief,’ by former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, was published by All Seasons Press on December 7
‘We would’ve asked Mr. Meadows about text messages exchanged with various individuals, including Members of Congress, on January 6th, both before, during, and after the attack on the United States Capitol, including text messages encouraging Mr. Meadows to facilitate a statement by President Trump discouraging violence at the Capitol on January 6th, including a text exchange with a media personality who had encouraged the presidential statement asking people to, quote, ‘peacefully leave the Capitol,’ end quote, as well as a text sent to one of—by one of the President’s family members indicating that Mr. Meadows is, quote, ‘pushing hard,’ end quote, for a statement from President Trump to, quote, ‘condemn this s***,’ end quote, happening at the Capitol.’
Meadows has continued to defend Trump, including in his new book, The Chief’s Chief, released last week.
The former congressman wrote that Trump would’ve taken the law into his own hands to fight off Black Lives Matter protesters trying to enter the White House last year and ‘knocked their heads in’ if the Secret Service hadn’t led him to a secure bunker instead.
‘But he didn’t have a choice. When it comes to the United States Secret Service, no one does. Either you do what they say, or they pick you up and make you do it.