The U.S. House of Representatives passed a measure recommending criminal contempt charges against Mark Meadows, Donald Trump’s former chief of staff, a week after his cooperation with the House committee investigating the Capitol uprising ended.
The passage marks the first time the House has voted to contempt a former member since the 1830s, according to House records.
It’s the panel’s latest show of force on January 6, which leaves no angle unexplored as it investigates the worst attack on the Capitol in more than 200 years. Lawmakers are determined to get answers quickly, and in doing so, they reaffirm the authority of Congress that Trump eroded while in office.
“History will be written about these times, about the work this committee has done,” said Bennie Thompson, chair of the committee.
Meadows, a former North Carolina congressman, left in March 2020 to join the Trump administration. Before leaving Congress, Meadows “continually insisted that the people and senior government officials respect the authority of Congress to do their job, and investigative powers are implicit and intertwined with our powers to legislate this,” said Jamie Raskin. , member of the Committee.
Raskin began Tuesday’s debate by reading freshly released frantic texts from the day of the attack revealing members of Congress, Fox News anchors and even Trump’s son urging Meadows to persuade the outgoing president to act quickly to stop the three-hour assault. of his supporters. .
Tuesday’s vote followed a committee recommendation that Meadows be indicted. The matter now goes to the Department of Justice, which will decide whether to prosecute.
Republicans on Tuesday called the action against Meadows a distraction from the House’s work, with one member calling it “evil” and “anti-American.” Trump has also defended Meadows in an interview, calling him “an honorable man.”
The committee’s leaders have vowed to punish anyone who fails to comply with their investigation, and the Justice Department has already indicted Trump’s ally Steve Bannon on two counts of contempt after he challenged his subpoena. If convicted, Bannon and Meadows could face up to a year behind bars on each count.
However, in a statement Tuesday, Meadows attorney George Terwilliger said the former chief of staff had never stopped cooperating, but maintained that he could not be forced to appear for an interview. The attorney said that Meadows had “fully cooperated” regarding the documents in his possession and are not privileged.
Meadows himself has sued the panel, asking a court to invalidate two subpoenas that, according to him, are “too broad and unduly burdensome.”
Committee members said text messages sent to Meadows on the day of the insurrection raised new questions about what was happening at the White House and what Trump himself was doing while the attack was taking place. The committee had planned to question Meadows about the communications, including 6,600 pages of logs taken from personal email accounts and about 2,000 text messages. The panel has not released any of the submissions in their entirety.
Republican Congresswoman Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the panel’s vice chair, said at the committee meeting Monday night that an important question raised by the texts was whether Trump had tried to obstruct congressional certification by refusing to send a forceful message to the troublemakers to stop them. .
“These texts leave no room for doubt,” Cheney said. “The White House knew exactly what was happening on Capitol Hill.”
The investigative panel has already interviewed more than 300 witnesses and subpoenaed more than 40 people, as it seeks to create the most comprehensive record yet of the run-up to the insurrection and of the violent siege itself.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism