Dec 8, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Jan. 6 committee to start contempt proceedings against Meadows

Mark Meadows

Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

The Jan. 6 select committee plans to move forward with contempt proceedings against former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows for his refusal to comply with the panel's subpoena.

Why it matters: The committee has used the threat of contempt — and the associated financial and reputational costs — to try to ensure evasive witnesses sit for their depositions.

Driving the news: Committee Chair Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) told Meadows' attorney George Terwilliger in a letter sent Tuesday that the panel is "left with no choice but to advance contempt proceedings and recommend that the body in which Mr. Meadows once served refer him for criminal prosecution."

  • The letter came after Terwilliger told the committee earlier Tuesday that Meadows would "decline the opportunity to appear voluntarily" for a planned deposition after failing to appear for one last month.
  • Thompson also skewered Meadows for writing in a book some of the information the committee is seeking from him. "That he would sell his telling of the facts of that day while denying a congressional committee the opportunity to ask him about the attack on our Capitol marks an historic and aggressive defiance of Congress," he wrote in the letter.

Between the lines: Thompson wrote in the letter that phone data provided by Meadows includes a Nov. 6, 2020, text chain between the then-chief of staff and a member of Congress about a "highly controversial" plan.

  • The plan, according to Thompson, involved "appointing alternate electors in certain states."
  • Meadows responded to the text, "I love it."

The backdrop: Meadows is the third person to face contempt proceedings from the committee, after former White House strategist Steve Bannon, who has since been indicted, and former Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark.

  • The committee voted unanimously to recommend contempt referrals in both of those cases, with all House Democrats and a handful of Republicans voting to approve the Bannon referral in October.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with more details from committee Chair Bennie Thompson's letter. And it has been corrected to reflect that Meadows replied “I love it” in response to the text from a member of Congress (not from a Jan. 6 rally organizer).

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