Dec 14, 2021 - Politics & Policy

House votes to hold Meadows in contempt of Congress

Mark Meadows. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The House voted late Tuesday to hold former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows in contempt of Congress for refusing to comply with a subpoena from the Jan. 6 select committee.

Why it matters: Meadows is the third person to face a recommendation for contempt proceedings from the committee. His place as one of the ex-president‘s top aides on Jan. 6 makes him a key target in the investigation.

  • Meadows had originally given information to the committee but stopped cooperating last week after he said he would not answer questions he believed were covered by executive privilege.
  • Only two Republicans — Adam Kinzinger of Illinois and Liz Cheney of Wyoming — joined Democrats in voting for the resolution, which passed 222-208.
  • The panel has hoped contempt referrals would exert pressure on evasive witnesses, though Meadows' continued defiance after former White House strategist Steve Bannon was indicted for contempt throws that strategy into doubt.
  • The committee also approved a contempt referral against former Trump Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark but halted the process after Clark's lawyer agreed to have him sit for a deposition and plead the 5th Amendment.

Driving the news: The committee on Monday unanimously approved a report asserting Meadows is "uniquely situated to provide critical information" about Jan. 6, as well as schemes to sow distrust in and overturn the election.

  • The report also includes information from documents Meadows has turned over to the committee, including an email in which he said the National Guard would be present on Jan. 6 to "protect pro Trump people."
  • "To complete its investigation, the Select Committee needs access to testimony on this non-privileged information," the report says.
  • "History will not look upon you as a victim. History will not dwell on your long list of privilege claims or your legal sleight of hand," said Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), who chairs the panel.
  • "History will record that in a critical moment in our democracy, most people were on the side of finding the truth, of providing accountability, of strengthening our system for future generations. And history will also record, in this critical moment, that some people were not," he added.

Ahead of the vote, Cheney read out texts Meadows received during the attack to highlight the White House’s contemporaneous awareness of the violence and contextualize Trump’s delayed response.

  • Several Fox News primetime hosts and Donald Trump Jr. also texted Meadows calling for Trump to denounce the attack, according to Cheney. Trump Jr. wrote: ”He’s got to condemn this shit Asap.”
  • “Yesterday was a terrible day. We tried everything we could in our objection to the 6 states. I’m sorry nothing worked,” one lawmaker told Meadows, according to Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.).
  • “Mark, protesters are literally storming the Capitol... Is Trump going to say something,” wrote one person in the Capitol — later self-identified as Punchbowl News' Jake Sherman — who added, “We are all helpless.”

What's next: The matter will now be referred to the DOJ for prosecution. The agency could move swiftly to indict Meadows after taking just 22 days to return an indictment against Bannon.

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