The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riot on Monday recommended the full chamber hold Mark Meadows, former President Donald Trump’s last White House chief of staff, in contempt of Congress for refusing to appear for a deposition under subpoena.
In the brief session Monday night, the committee blasted Meadows for refusing to appear for a deposition to field questions about some of the more than 9,000 pages of emails and text messages he had previously turned over to the committee.
After initially signaling cooperation with the committee, Meadows reversed course and said he would respect Trump’s assertion of privilege even though the Biden White House declined to invoke executive privilege over his testimony.
In a 51-page report released Sunday night, the committee argued that Meadows is “uniquely situated to provide critical information” to its inquiry, given his proximity to Trump before, during and after the presidential election and Jan. 6 Capitol attack, as well as his own extensive involvement in efforts to contest the results.
Meadows, the committee said, played a central role in those challenges, communicating with GOP lawmakers, activists, Trump allies and campaign officials from the west wing, often using a personal email account and a nongovernment cell phone.
Meadows had initially agreed to cooperate with the inquiry, turning over more than 9,000 pages of records to investigators, including text messages with GOP lawmakers and a member of the president’s family during the riot, as well as emails with Justice Department officials encouraging them to investigate voter fraud.
But he changed course before he was scheduled to appear for an in-person deposition on Capitol Hill last month, arguing instead that he would respect Trump’s assertion of privilege even though the Biden White House declined to do so over his testimony.
“To be clear, Mr. Meadows’s failure to comply, and this contempt recommendation, are not based on good-faith disagreements over privilege assertions. Rather, Mr. Meadows has failed to comply and warrants contempt findings because he has wholly refused to appear to provide any testimony and refused to answer questions regarding even clearly non-privileged information—information that he himself has identified as non-privileged through his own document production,” the panel wrote in its report.
If the Justice Department decides to charge Meadows, he could face up to a year in prison and a $100,000 fine for refusing to appear before the panel. Already, the Biden Justice Department has charged Trump adviser Steve Bannon with two counts of contempt of Congress for refusing to cooperate with the committee’s subpoena for records and testimony.
His trial is set to begin in July, a federal judge announced last week. Should the House vote go through, Meadows would become the first former lawmaker to be held in criminal contempt by his former chamber [ABC News].
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: NEW YORK POST
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