Jan. 6 Panel Votes to Hold Mark Meadows in Contempt Over Refusal to Comply With Subpoena
00:52 GMT 14.12.2021 (Updated: 03:56 GMT 14.12.2021)
All nine members of the January 6th Committee voted on Monday in favor of holding former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows in contempt of Congress over his refusal to comply with the panel's subpoena.
Each member of the committee, chaired by US Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS), took the opportunity to present arguments on why Meadows' testimony remains paramount to their investigation.
The unanimous vote effectively allowed the House panel to clear a 51-page report that includes a resolution that recommends the full US House of Representatives find Meadows in contempt for defying their subpoena for documents and testimony over the Capitol riot.
The House select committee had intended to hold a deposition with Meadows to gain further insights on the documents he had previously provided them, however, Meadows ceased cooperating with the panel.
Thompson opened the Monday meeting by detailing how far along the investigation has gotten, noting that a dozen key witnesses will give testimony in the coming weeks to bring the total witness count to over 300 and over 30,000 records.
The committee chairman further dismissed the notion that Meadows was shielded by executive privilege but took the opportunity to slam him for refusing to cooperate with the panel after initially working with the lawmakers early on in the investigation.
“When it was time for him to follow the law, come in, and testify on those questions, he changed his mind and told us to pound sand," Thompson said of Meadows' diminished cooperation. "He didn’t even show up.”
Shortly after the 9-0 contempt vote by the committee members, Meadows appeared on Fox News' "The Sean Hannity Show", telling the host that he did not commit "nefarious" behavior during his time in the Trump administration.
“This is not about me, holding me in contempt," Meadows suggested. "It’s not even about making the Capitol safer. This is about Donald Trump and about actually going after him once again.”
He further asserted that compelling senior White House officials to testify before the panel "is not something that is in the purview of Congress."
The late Monday interview did not see the Fox News host ask Meadows about his eye-opening text messages that were aired by Rep. Liz Cheney, who serves as the vice chairwoman on the committee, during the panel's proceedings.
If and when the US House clears the contempt resolution, the matter will then be forwarded to the US Department of Justice. It's presently unclear when the congressional chamber will take up the measure.
Meadows' Texts the Day of January 6th
Speaking after Thompson, US Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), one of two Republicans on the committee, focused her statements on text messages that Meadows had freely handed over to the committee.
"This vote on contempt, today, relates principally to text messages, and other communications [Meadows] admits are not privileged," Cheney said.
The communications that Cheney details occurred on January 6th during the 187-minute period during which violence erupted at the Capitol. Her final words, before reading the communications, were, "these text messages leave no doubt. The White House knew exactly what was happening here at the Capitol."
Cheney read five text messages that Meadows received on January 6th that detail the escalation in violence.
"We're under siege here at the Capitol"
"They have breached the Capitol."
"Mark, protesters are literally storming the Capitol. Breaking windows on doors rushing in. Is Trump going to say something?"
"There's an armed standoff at the house chamber door."
Cheney then went on to detail communications that Meadows received imploring him to get Trump to try and stop the violence.
One text message read, "POTUS had to come out firmly and tell the protestors to dissipate. Someone is going to get killed." Multiple people died as a result of the violence
Cheney then read a text correspondence between Meadows and Donald Trump Jr, "He has got to condemn this Sh*t Asap. The Capitol Police Tweet is not enough," to which Meadows responded, "I'm pushing it hard. I agree."
Text messages were also received from a variety of Fox News hosts including Brian Kilmeade, Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham.
The remaining members of the Committee, Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Adam Schiff (D-CA), Pete Aguilar (D-CA), Stephanie Murphy (D-FL), Jamie Raskin (D-MD), Elaine Luria (D-VA), and Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), all spoke to Meadows' contempt of Congress.
Many highlighted his clear understanding that most of his communications are not protected under the purview of executive privilege, but did not offer any new details.
US Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) presented a series of three text messages that Meadows received on January 6th.
'History Will Not Look Upon Any of You as a Martyr'
Meadows joins fellow Trump-era officials Jeffrey Clark
and Steven Bannon
in being found in contempt by the panel, the latter of whom was more recently indicted on two contempt charges after defying the committee's subpoena.
Thompson concluded his Monday remarks by pointing out that while a vast majority of individuals pinpointed in the investigation have been cooperative, Meadows ranked among key officials who have defied the committee's inquiry.
"If you're listening at home, Mr. Meadows, Mr. Bannon, Mr. Clark, I want you to know this: History will be written about these times, about the work this Committee has undertaken," Thompson said." And history will not look upon any of you as a martyr."
Bannon has vowed to fight the contempt charges in court, earlier suggesting that the offenses are part of a "political hit job," and that his arrest is meant to simply "stop and intimidate people."
"I'm in this for the long-haul. I'm in this for the fight," Bannon previously stated after appearing before authorities. "I'm going to continue to fight."
As for Clark, he was more recently
given a new deposition that will be held on December 16 over a medical condition.