Chris Lange, FISM News
The U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday voted 222-208 to seek criminal contempt of Congress charges against former President Trump’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows, for refusing to fully cooperate with a probe into the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.
Meadows handed over requested text messages he and Trump exchanged during the deadly protest that erupted at the Capitol building following the 2020 presidential election but has refused to testify before lawmakers on the grounds of executive privilege.
Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois were the only two Republicans to side with Democrats in the vote. The contempt recommendation has been referred to the Department of Justice to determine whether charges should be brought against Meadows.
Cheney, who serves as the Republican vice chair of the committee, said Meadows’ action in handing over the texts did not satisfy the committee’s requests, stating that he has a legal and moral obligation to testify.
“Mr. Meadows’ testimony is necessary to inform our legislative judgements, yet he has refused to give any testimony at all – even regarding non-privileged topics,” she said, adding, “he is in contempt of Congress.”
Republicans siding with Meadows argued that the contempt vote was premature in light of ongoing lawsuits filed by Trump and Meadows asserting executive privilege. Trump’s request to withhold documents was rejected in federal appeals court last week.
Trump ally Steve Bannon was held in contempt of Congress in October for defying a subpoena issued by the Jan. 6 committee. Nine Republicans voted in favor of the recommendation.
Washington insiders believe Bannon faces the most serious potential repercussions, pointing out that he, unlike Meadows, did not cooperate with the committee on any level. In addition to turning over a portion of the requested documents, Meadows negotiated with the panel for two months about an interview. Having left Congress only last year, Meadows also has closer ties to the Republican caucus.
Ahead of Tuesday’s hearing, Cheney read aloud excerpts from the text messages supplied by Meadows during a committee meeting, as reported by Reuters. Included were texts sent to Meadows from the former president’s son, Donald Trump, Jr., as well as Fox News hosts Laura Ingraham, Brian Kilmeade, and Sean Hannity urging Meadows to convince the president to issue a public statement condemning the riot and to tell rioters to go home. “I’m pushing it hard. I agree,” said Meadows in a text to Donald Trump, Jr.