House holds Trump aide in contempt of Congress over January 6 probe
On Tuesday, the House approved a motion to indict Mark Meadows, former chief of staff of President Donald Trump, for criminal contempt of Congress. He defied a subpoena from the investigation committee into the Jan. 6, 2017 Capitol riot.
Meadows was referred to Department of Justice by the vote. Just two Republicans – both of them members of the select panel – voted alongside all Democrats to find Meadows in contempt.
After Meadows had refused to take a deposition, the House of Representatives began contempt proceedings. This was days after hundreds of Trump supporters stormed Congress on Jan. 6. Many of the rioters were motivated by Trump’s false claim of a “rigged 2020 election”. They forced legislators to leave their chambers, temporarily stalling President Joe Biden’s confirmation.
“I don’t have the greatest desire to come here looking for consideration of this contempt referral,” stated Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), chairman of the select committee during Tuesday morning’s Rules Committee hearing. Thompson pointed out that Meadows was a Congressman for seven years prior to becoming Trump’s chief staff officer.
Thompson stated, “But this doesn’t excuse him from his conduct.” Thompson said, “But that doesn’t excuse his behavior.” This is his own fault.”
Meadows last week sued to overturn two select committee subpoenas. Meadows cited Trump’s claim that Meadows’ testimony is covered by executive privilege. That claim was rejected by the committee, and Biden declined privilege to access documents requested by investigators.
Meadows, however, gave the committee thousands of documents that were not protected by executive privilege before he backed out of his deposition. Meadows could not be subpoenaed to answer any questions regarding those records, said lawmakers.
These include messages Meadows received directly from Donald Trump Jr. and Fox News hosts, as well as texts that Republican legislators panicked about the Capitol riot.
We need an Oval Office Address. Trump Jr. must lead right now. It’s gone too far.” Trump Jr. wrote Meadows Monday night in a message that was revealed by Liz Cheney, R.Wyo.
“He has to immediately condemn this act of s—,” Trump Jr. wrote. Trump Jr. said in another message that “The Capitol Police tweet was not enough” according to Cheney.
I’m really pushing for it. Meadows replied in the same message as Cheney.
“Mark. The president must tell the Capitol people to go home. It is a terrible situation for all of us. “He is destroying his heritage,” Fox host Laura Ingraham wrote Meadows according to Cheney.
Please get him on television. Destroying everything you have accomplished,” Brian Kilmeade of “Fox & Friends” said in another message revealed by Cheney.
“Can he speak? Cheney reports that Fox host Sean Hannity asked Hannity to ask people to evacuate the Capitol..
Cheney was the first to speak before the nine-member commission voted unanimously for a reportMeadows would be reprimanded for contempt. Texts showed Meadows’ “supreme negligence of duty” when he failed to act within 187 minutes.
Cheney stated that the texts “leave no doubt” that the White House was aware of the violence at Capitol during the chaos.
Cheney provided more details about text messages Republican legislators sent Meadows Jan. 6 during Tuesday’s Rules Committee Hearing.
One text stated that “it is very bad up there on the Hill.” One text stated, “The president should stop this as soon as possible.”
An additional text said, “Fix it now.”
Meadows’ legal complaint states that Trump’s instructions to Meadows for not complying with the subpoena have put Meadows in “untenable” position where he has to choose between the two conflicting privilege claims made by Trump and Biden.
Trump filed suit to prevent the National Archives delaying the sending of a number of White House records to Jan. 6 Panel. Trump claims that the records are covered by executive privilege. Biden has however waived his privilege.
One federal district court judge with a panel made up of three federal appels court judges have rejected Trump’s privilege claims.
Meadows’ lawyer, David Meadows, denied that Meadows had stopped cooperating in the Jan. 6 investigation.
Attorney George Terwilliger stated that “Rather, he maintained consistent that he is no longer a former chief-of staff and cannot be forced to appear in questioning”
Meadows himself, however notes in his own suit that he “withdrawn his offer of appearing voluntarily for the purpose of a deposition.”
Meadows, according to the lawsuit, made the decision because he was “blindsided” by Dec. 4, the discovery that the committee had sent an “overly wide” subpoena for his cell phone carrier Verizon.
In contempt of Steve Bannon, a former White House senior adviser, was voted by the House. He had not followed a Jan. 6, panel subpoena. Bannon was then indicted by a federal grand jury for two counts of contempt.
Bannon has not pleaded guilty. Bannon could face a sentence of imprisonment for being convicted. maximum sentence of one year in jail and a fine of up to $100,000 for each count. Bannon was scheduled to begin his trial on July 18, according to a federal judge.
The select committee voted last week to advance contempt proceedings for ex-Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark. He was also granted a time extension by investigators to allow him to complete the investigation.
Thompson stated Tuesday that out of 300 witnesses, Meadows Bannon, Clark and Clark were the only ones not cooperating.