On Monday, the House panel probing the Jan. 6 Capitol insurgency is expected to recommend contempt charges against former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, as legislators release additional information about the tens of thousands of emails and texts he has given up to the committee.
The nine-member panel delivered a 51-page report Sunday evening setting out the case for the contempt vote, including its concerns about the materials he has previously produced, including 6,600 pages of information acquired from personal email accounts and approximately 2,000 text messages.
The documents were not released, although the panel did detail some of them. Meadows’ efforts to help Donald Trump overturn his presidential election defeat are detailed in the report, as are communications with members of Congress and organizers of a rally held the morning of the insurgency, as well as frantic messages among aides and others as the violent attack unfolded that day.
The panel also wants to know if Trump had any communication with the National Guard concerning their reaction, which was delayed for hours as the violence increased and protesters viciously battered officers defending the Capitol building.
Meadows’ papers reveal that he wrote an email to an anonymous individual indicating that the guard would be present to “defend pro-Trump folks” and that others would be available on standby, according to the report. The committee provides no more information regarding the email.
Trump’s former top White House staffer “is uniquely poised to give critical information, having straddled an official function in the White House and an unofficial role relating to Mr. Trump’s reelection campaign,” according to the committee.
The contempt vote comes after more than two months of discussions with Meadows and his counsel, as well as a fight for the panel to secure evidence from some of Trump’s other senior advisors, including longtime supporter Steve Bannon. In October, the House of Representatives voted to approve charges against Bannon, and this month, the Justice Department charged him on two counts of contempt.
The panel wants to provide the most detailed record yet of the violent incident, in which hundreds of Trump supporters rushed past law enforcement personnel, burst into the Capitol, and disrupted Biden’s win certification. Meadows’ testimony might be crucial because he was Trump’s senior adviser at the time and was at the White House with him when the rioters broke in.
Meadows failed to show up for his deposition, so the committee’s chairman, Mississippi Democrat Bennie Thompson, scheduled the vote last week. A member of the panel’s investigative team describes many of the questions they would have asked in a transcript released on Sunday. Meadows’ outreach to states and conversations with members of Congress are at the core of many of the inquiries, which revolve on Trump’s efforts to overturn the election in the weeks leading up to the insurgency.
Even though election officials and courts across the country had refuted the claims, committee staff said they would have interviewed Meadows about emails “to leadership at the Department of Justice on December 29th and 30th, 2020, and January 1st, 2021, encouraging investigations of suspected voter fraud.”
Meadows, a former North Carolina Republican congressman, also revealed text messages made to and from members of Congress “before, during, and after the attack on the United States Capitol,” according to the panel. One conversation with a politician was about efforts to contact state lawmakers about the election because “POTUS wants to engage with them.” President of the United States is referred to as POTUS.
Meadows claimed Trump felt Vice President Mike Pence had the ability to reject electors in his capacity as presiding over the certification in a text discussion with an anonymous senator, according to the committee. Under the legislation, Pence did not have such authority because the vice president’s role is essentially ceremonial.
Meadows’ old colleagues pushed him to lobby Trump to stop the violence in texts sent the day of the incident, according to the committee. Similarly, Meadows told an organizer of the gathering that morning — when Trump exhorted his fans to “fight like hell” — that they “desperately” needed instructions from him because things had “gone insane.”
Meadows, who has refused to answer questions from the committee, citing Trump’s claims of executive privilege, has filed a lawsuit against the panel, asking the court to throw out two subpoenas he believes are “overly broad and unreasonably onerous.” The complaint claims that the committee went too far by subpoenaing Verizon for his cell phone information.
The lawsuit, according to Thompson and the committee’s Republican vice chairwoman, Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, “will not succeed in slowing down the Select Committee’s inquiry or preventing us from receiving the information we want.”
The group has already spoken with almost 300 people, and senators say they want to hold a series of hearings early next year to make much of their conclusions public.
The panel’s predicted vote to propose charges of contempt of Congress would bring the case to the whole House, which is likely to adopt the bill and subject Meadows to criminal prosecution.