House votes in favor of former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows in contempt of Congress



The House on Tuesday voted in favor of former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows in contempt of Congress for refusing to cooperate with a special committee investigating the January 6 Capitol riot, preparing the scenario for a possible criminal prosecution of an adviser to former President Trump.

The vote, 222 to 208, was the second time in recent months that the House had rejected a former Trump adviser out of contempt, and it was the first time since the 1830s that the House had imposed such a sanction on one of its former members. Two Republicans joined all Democrats present in the vote in favor of the measure.

“Mr. Meadows is a central participant and a witness to the events of January 6, “said Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Burbank), a member of the House committee investigating the insurgency, before the contempt vote.” he manages to ignore the law and the witnesses summoned before Congress can only choose when they comply, our power of oversight will disappear. “

The vote of contempt came a month after the House took the same action against Stephen K. Bannon, alleging that Trump’s confidant and former White House adviser had refused to comply with the House committee’s summons. for information and testimony. Bannon was indicted by a grand federal jury last month on two charges of contempt of Congress. He is scheduled to stand trial in July.

The House action against Meadows came after a 9-0 contempt vote by the House Selection Committee to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. Panel lawmakers said Meadows initially provided 9,000 pages of records before refusing to provide further records or appearing for a statement last week. They said Meadows is in a unique position to provide information to discuss the role Trump and the White House played in inciting and responding to the riots.

“We have given Mr. Meadows every opportunity to cooperate with our investigation,” Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), Chair of the House panel, said Tuesday. “It simply came to our notice then. He has brought this situation upon himself. But I have no doubt that he despises Congress and must be held accountable. “

Members of the Republican House responded that Democrats were pursuing charges of contempt for partisan reasons. Only two of the nine Republicans who voted to belittle Bannon did so on Tuesday. Meadows served as a member of the GOP House from 2013 until 2020, when he took over as Trump’s chief of staff.

“He’s a good man, and he’s my friend. That’s as wrong as he is,” said Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) before the vote. “Your desire for power, your desire to reach your opponents is so intense that you don’t care.”

Meadows’ attorney, George Terwilliger III, has stated that the former White House adviser is unable to comply with the summons for two main reasons. As a former presidential adviser, Meadows should not be forced to testify before Congress, as it could cause staff to be wary of giving sincere advice to presidents.

He also said Meadows did not want to undermine Trump’s assertion of executive privilege, a legal doctrine that has allowed presidents to withhold certain confidential communications from public disclosure.

Meadows “has fully cooperated with non-privileged documents in his possession and has sought various means to provide further information while continuing to honor the former president’s privileged claims,” ​​Terwillger said in a statement Tuesday before the election.

Citing the privilege of the executive, Trump has tried to prevent the National Archives from handing over his White House records to the House committee. His case suffered a major setback last week when a federal court of appeals rejected his arguments, setting the stage for such documents to be delivered to Congress if the U.S. Supreme Court declined to intervene.

The panel of the House, which has two Republicans, has interviewed more than 300 witnesses and cited more than 40 people because it aims to draw a clearer picture of the violence of the day and what contributed to it.

Encouraged by the Trump campaign for months and full of falsehood that the 2020 elections had been stolen, hundreds of his supporters stormed the Capitol on January 6 in hopes of blocking the certification of the electoral college victory. of President Biden. The melee has contributed to five deaths and injuries of dozens of police officers. More than 700 people have been charged by federal prosecutors in the riots.

Ms. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), Vice chair of the panel, said the committee wants to question Meadows about incidents that are not covered by executive privilege. In particular, he said, lawmakers want to learn more about Meadows’ role in a phone call in January between Trump and Georgia election officials. During the call, the former president urged a Georgia election official to “find 11,780 votes” to change the outcome of the election in Georgia.

Cheney would also like to explore Meadows ’dealings with Justice Department officials and a member of Congress over Trump’s desire to replace his incumbent attorney general with an official who will help him press his baseless allegations of fraud.

In a dramatic moment before the committee vote Monday, Cheney read aloud the text messages Meadows received from Fox News personalities and one of Trump’s sons, all urging him to take action to convincing Trump to stop the violence.

“He must condemn this s … as soon as possible. The Capitol police tweet is not enough,” Donald Trump Jr. sent. in Meadows, according to Cheney.

“I’m working hard. I agree,” Meadows said.

Fox News presenter Laura Ingraham sent a text message to Meadows: “Mark, the president has to tell the Capitol people to go home. It hurts us all. It’s destroying their lives. legacy “.

Sean Hannity, another Fox host, sent a text message to Meadows, “Can you make a statement? Ask people to leave the Capitol.”

Cheney said the text messages “are further proof of President Trump’s supreme duty.”

“Mr. Will Meadows ’testimony have another key question before this committee: Did Donald Trump, through action or inaction, corruptly attempt to obstruct or impede the official process of Congress to count the electoral votes? she said. “Mark Meadows’ testimony is needed to inform our legislative judgments.”

Times writer Jennifer Haberkorn contributed to this report.

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