Jan. 6th panel votes to bring Mark Meadows contempt charges

WASHINGTON (AP), -- A House panel investigating Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection voted to recommend contempt of court charges against Mark Meadows, former White House chief staff officer. The lawmakers revealed a series frantic texts Meadows received while the attack was ongoing.

Jan. 6th panel votes to bring Mark Meadows contempt charges


 

Meadows provided the texts before he stopped cooperating with the committee. They revealed that members Congress, Fox News anchors, and even President Donald Trump's son were asking Meadows to press Trump to quickly stop the siege of his supporters.

Monday's vote by the panel was 9-0 to recommend contempt charges. The House will vote Tuesday on whether to refer the charges the Justice Department. This department will decide whether or not to prosecute the former Republican congressman.

Donald Trump Jr. sent Meadows the message "We need an Oval Address," as his father's supporters broke into the Capitol. Meadows was interrupted by the certification of President Joe Biden’s victory. He must lead now. It's gone too far, and it has gotten out of control."

Trump Jr. said, "He has to condemn this s--- ASAP."

Wyoming Republican Rep. Liz Cheney, vice-chairwoman of the panel, described the text obtained by the panel as the panel voted for Meadows to be charged with contempt. Meadows did not appear at the deposition after his lawyer stated that he would cease cooperating.

Cheney stated that the texts showed Trump's "supreme neglect" because he refused strongly to condemn the violence of his supporters. This raises questions about whether Trump sought to block the congressional certification through inaction.

Cheney stated, "These texts are clear." "The White House knew exactly the events at Capitol."

As it attempts to compile the best record possible of the events leading up to and during the siege, the panel votes. It has already interviewed over 300 witnesses and subpoenaed 40 others. After Steve Bannon, a longtime Trump ally, was not compliant with his subpoena last fall, the Justice Department indicted him.

Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), chairman of the committee, stated that Meadows, a former Republican congressman, was leaving a legacy in the House. His former colleagues criticized him for not answering questions about the brutal attack on democracy that he witnessed. This is his legacy."

George Terwilliger, Meadows' attorney, wrote Monday to Thompson that the contempt vote would not be justified because Meadows was Trump's top aide and all presidents should have executive privilege to protect their private conversations. Meadows sued the panel and asked a court for an injunction to overturn two subpoenas he claims are too broad and burdensome.

Terwilliger pointed out that the contempt statute is not used often over time, and suggested that a contempt referral by a senior presidential adviser "would do great harm to the institution of The Presidency."

The committee slowly teased out a few of Meadows' emails and texts to the committee, including 6,600 pages of records taken directly from Meadows' personal email accounts as well as about 2,000 text messages. None of the communications have been released by the panel.

On Monday, Cheney read Trump Jr.'s texts and several Fox News hosts. Trump's inner circle tried to reach Trump through his chief of staff. They pleaded with him to stop the violence taking place outside and within the Capitol.

According to Meadows' report, Fox News host Laura Ingraham sent Meadows, "Hey Mark. The president needs to tell everyone in the Capitol to come home...this is hurting all...he is destroying his legacy."

"Please get him on TV. Brian Kilmeade wrote, "Destroying all you have achieved."

Meadows replied to Trump Jr.'s text by writing: "I'm pushing for it hard." I agree.

Cheney also provided details about texts she claimed were from members and other Capitol staff.

One text read: "Hey Mark, protestors literally storm the Capitol," "Breaking windows on the doors. Rushing in. Trump is going to speak?

Another came from the House chamber. According to the panel, the text stated that there was an armed standoff at House Chamber doors.

Meadows would have been present for Meadows' deposition. Legislators had intended to question him about Trump’s efforts to overturn his election in the weeks prior to the insurrection. This included his outreach to states as well as his communications with Congress.

Trump's former White House top aide is "uniquely situated to provide key data, having straddled both an official role in White House and unofficial roles related to Mr. Trump’s reelection campaign," the panel stated in a 51-page report published Sunday evening.

The panel asked Meadows a series of questions. It wanted to know if Trump was involved in discussions about the National Guard's response. This was delayed hours by the violence and rioters beating police officers guarding the Capitol Building.

Meadows provided documents that include an email that he sent to someone unidentified, in which he stated that the Guard would be present "to protect pro Trump people," and that additional Guard members would be on standby. The email was not disclosed by the committee.

A transcript of Meadows' deposition shows that committee staff claimed they would have interviewed Meadows over emails to the Department of Justice leadership on December 29th and 30, 2020 and January 1st 2021 encouraging investigations into suspected voter fraud, even though election officials across the country and courts had dismissed those claims.

The committee exchanged text messages with an unidentified senator. Meadows stated that Trump believed Vice President Mike Pence had the power to reject voters in his role as presiding over Jan. 6 certification.

This power was not granted to Pence by law as the function of the vice president is mostly ceremonial.

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