The House voted on Tuesday to hold former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows in contempt of Congress for refusing to cooperate with a special committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, setting the stage for possible criminal prosecution of an advisor to former President Trump.
The vote, 222 to 208, was the second time in recent months that the House had held a former Trump advisor in contempt, and it was the first time since the 1830s that the chamber had leveled such a sanction on one of its former members. All Democrats were present when two Republicans voted for the measure.
“Mr. “Mr. “If he can get away with ignoring the law, and witnesses summoned before Congress can merely pick and choose when they comply, our power of oversight will be gone.”
The contempt vote came a month after the House took the same action against Stephen K. Bannon, alleging the the Trump confidant and former White House advisor had refused to comply with the House committee’s subpoena for information and testimony. A federal grand jury indicted Bannon last month on two counts of contempt of Congress. He will be tried in July.
The House’s action against Meadows was taken after a contempt vote of 9 to 0 by the House Select Committee for Investigating the Jan. 6 Attack at the U.S. Capitol. Lawmakers on the panel said Meadows initially provided 9,000 pages of records before refusing to provide more records or show up for a deposition last week. Meadows was able to share information about Trump’s role in the inciting of the riot and how the White House responded to it, according to the panel.
“We’ve given Mr. Meadows every opportunity to cooperate with our investigation,” Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss. Chairman of the House panel, he said Tuesday. “We’ve done more than fair. “He brought this on himself. But there is no doubt in my mind that he’s in contempt of Congress and has to be held accountable.”
Republican House members countered that Democrats were pursuing the contempt charges for partisan reasons. Only two of the nine Republicans who voted Tuesday to hold Bannon contemptuously did so. Meadows was a GOP House Member from 2013 to 2020,, when Trump became his chief of staff.
“He’s a good man and he is my friend. “This is as wrong as you can get,” Rep. Jim Jordan (R.Ohio), stated before the vote. “Your lust for power, your lust to get your opponents is so intense that you don’t care.”
Meadows’ attorney, George Terwilliger III, has asserted that the former White House advisor cannot comply with the subpoena for two major reasons. Meadows, a former top presidential adviser, shouldn’t be required to testify before Congress. This could make staffers less willing to give candid advice to the presidents.
He said that Meadows didn’t want to undermine Trump’s assertion of executive privilege. This legal doctrine allows presidents to keep certain confidential communications secret from the public.
Meadows “has fully cooperated as to documents in his possession that are not privileged and has sought various means to provide other information while continuing to honor the former president’s privilege claims,” Terwillger said in a statement Tuesday before the vote.
Citing executive privilege, Trump has sought to block the National Archives from turning over his White House records to the House committee. A federal appeals court rejected Trump’s arguments last week, opening the door for documents to be handed to Congress if necessary.
The House panel, which has two Republicans, has interviewed more than 300 witnesses and subpoenaed more than 40 people as it seeks to paint a clearer picture of the day’s violence and what contributed to it.
Goaded on by Trump’s months-long, falsehood-filled campaign that the 2020 election had been stolen, hundreds of his supporters stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, hoping to block the certification of President Biden’s electoral college victory. Five people were killed and scores of officers were injured in the melee. More than 700 people have been charged by federal prosecutors in the riot.
Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo. Vice chair of the panel, Liz Cheney (R-Wyo), said that the committee would like to question Meadows regarding incidents not covered under executive privilege. She said that lawmakers are interested in learning more about Meadows’ role during a January phone call between Trump and Georgia election officials. During the call, the former president urged a Georgia elections official to “find 11,780 votes” to change the result of the election in Georgia.
Cheney she would also like to explore Meadows’ dealings with Justice Department officials and a member of Congress about Trump’s desire to replace his acting attorney general with an official who would help him press his baseless fraud claims. In a dramatic moment just before Monday’s vote, Cheney read aloud text messages from Meadows from Fox News personalities as well as one of Trump’s children, all asking him to act to end the violence.
“He has to condemn this s— ASAP. According to Cheney, Donald Trump Jr. sent Meadows a tweet about the Capitol police tweet.
” I’m pushing it. I agree,” Meadows replied.
Laura Ingraham from Fox News sent Meadows a text: “Mark, the President needs to tell everyone in the Capitol to get home, this hurts all of us. This is destroying his legacy.”
Sean Hannity, another Fox host, texted Meadows: “Can he make a statement? Ask people to leave the Capitol.”
Cheney said such text messages “are further evidence of President Trump’s supreme dereliction of duty.”
“Mr. Meadows’ testimony will be relevant to another crucial question before the committee. “Did Donald Trump, through inaction or action, corruptly attempt to obstruct or hinder Congress’ official proceeding for counting electoral votes?” she stated. “Mark Meadows’ testimony is necessary to inform our legislative judgments.”
Times staff writer Jennifer Haberkorn contributed to this report.