The Jan 6th Committee appears before the House Rules Committee on Tuesday to recommend that former Donald Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows be held in contempt.
Watch the event in the player above
That panel voted 9-0 Monday night to recommend the charges. A House vote to hold Meadows in contempt would refer the issue to the Justice Department, which would decide whether to prosecute the former Republican congressman. It would be the first time the House has voted to hold a former member in contempt since the 1830s, according to House records.
On Monday the committee released a series of frantic texts Meadows received as the attack was underway. The texts, provided by Meadows before he ceased cooperating with the committee, revealed that members of Congress, Fox News anchors and even President Donald Trump’s son were urging him to persuade Trump to act quickly to stop the siege by his supporters.
“We need an Oval Office address,” Donald Trump Jr. texted Meadows, the committee said, as his father’s supporters were breaking into the Capitol, sending lawmakers running for their lives and interrupting the certification of Joe Biden’s presidential victory. “He has to lead now. It has gone too far and gotten out of hand.”
Trump Jr. added, “He’s got to condemn this s—- ASAP.”
Members of the committee said the texts raised fresh questions about what was happening at the White House — and what Trump himself was doing — as the attack was underway. The committee had planned to question Meadows about the communications, including 6,600 pages of records taken from personal email accounts and about 2,000 text messages. The panel has not released any of the communications in full.
“Whatever legacy he thought he left in the House, this is his legacy now,” committee Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., said of Meadows. “His former colleagues singling him out for criminal prosecution because he wouldn’t answer questions about what he knows about a brutal attack on our democracy. That’s his legacy.”
In a Monday letter to Thompson, Meadows’ attorney George Terwilliger said the contempt vote would be “unjust” because Meadows was one of Trump’s top aides and all presidents should be afforded executive privilege to shield their private conversations. Meadows himself has sued the panel, asking a court to invalidate two subpoenas that he says are “overly broad and unduly burdensome.”
Terwilliger noted that the contempt statute has been used infrequently and argued that a contempt referral of a senior presidential aide “would do great damage to the institution of the Presidency.”
On Tuesday, Terwilliger issued a new statement saying Meadows had never stopped cooperating but instead had consistently maintained that he could not be compelled to appear for an interview. He noted that Meadows has “fully cooperated” with respect to documents that are in his possession and are not privileged.
“As the House prepares to act on the Select Committee’s recommendation, perhaps Members will consider how the Select Committee’s true intentions in dealing with Mr. Meadows have been revealed when it accuses him of contempt citing the very documents his cooperation has produced,” Terwilliger wrote. “What message does that duplicity send to him as well as to others who might be inclined to consider cooperating in good faith to the extent possible?”
The committee has gradually teased a handful of the emails and texts Meadows had provided to the committee before he ended his cooperation.