Former President Donald Trump directed Mark Meadows and other officials not to cooperate with the investigation on the Jan. 6 Capitol attack.
On Monday, the U.S. House panel investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riot voted to recommend that former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows be referred to the Justice Department on contempt of Congress charges for his refusal to cooperate with the panel's investigation. The resolution was approved unanimously and is expected to go to the full House for a floor vote on Tuesday.
Meadows, a key investigatee in the probe, initially cooperated with the panel by producing some documents that were not privileged, but he reversed course on Dec. 7 after learning that the lawmakers also subpoenaed telecommunications company Verizon for his personal phone records. He claimed in a lawsuit against the committee that the Verizon subpoena was in violation of the Constitution and the Stored Communications Act.
Neither did Meadows appear for a deposition scheduled for Dec. 8, prompting the committee to proceed with the contempt referral. Monday's vote was called for by House GOP member Liz Cheney, who serves as vice chairwoman of the panel.
"Mr. Meadows started by doing the right thing -- cooperating. He handed over records that he didn't try to shield behind some excuses," said Bennie Thompson, the committee's chair. "But in an investigation like ours, that's just a first step. When the records raise questions -- as these most certainly do -- you have to come in and answer those questions. And when it was time for him to follow the law, come in, and testify on those questions, he changed his mind and told us to pound sand. He didn't even show up."
Documents Meadows submitted to the committee made the members believe the degree to which members of Congress were involved in the efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election results was higher than people previously thought.
Meadows became the third person whom the Jan. 6 committee moved to hold in contempt of Congress, following former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon and former Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark. Former President Donald Trump directed former administration officials, including Meadows, and outside aides not to cooperate with the investigation, arguing that materials requested by House investigators are covered by his executive privilege.
In a separate case, Trump's lawsuit seeking to shield hundreds of pages of White House records from the Jan. 6 committee by asserting his executive privilege was rejected last week by a federal judge in D.C. The former president's team suggested they would ask the Supreme Court to intervene.