The House select committee investigating the January 6 Capitol attack or Insurrection, as some call it, in a unanimous vote, recommended the full chamber cite former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows for contempt of Congress for defying a subpoena and refusing to appear, urging the Justice Department to pursue criminal charges.
After the unanimous committee vote, the full House could hold Meadows in contempt as early as Tuesday. The House Rules Committee will meet at 9:00 am on Tuesday to set rules for the floor debate on the Meadows contempt citation,and the Justice Department could decide within weeks whether to press charges.
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 them. He had provided some documents before refusing to testify under subpoena.
Meadows’s attorney, George Terwilliger, urged the panel not to pursue contempt charges because Meadows was acting in good faith to keep communications under executive privilege, under orders from former President Trump, who sought to keep his communications confidential under executive privilege.
Terwilliger told the committee in a seven-page letter, “It would ill-serve the country to rush to judgement on the matter.”
“We recognize and do not dispute that the violence and interference with the processes of our democratic institutions as occurred on January 6, 2021, were deplorable and unjustifiable events,” Terwilliger wrote. “But the real strength of our democratic institutions comes from the principles that undergird them, and no singular event can justify overrunning centuries-old safeguards of the republic.”
Last week on Wednesday, Meadows sued House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), and the committee in U.S. District Court arguing the subpoena was “overly broad and unduly burdensome.” He also questioned the committee’s legitimacy and argued the committee “threatens to violate longstanding principles of executive privilege and immunity that are of constitutional origin and dimension.”
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. Meadows could become the second Trump administration official prosecuted for contempt, along with political strategist Steve Bannon.