House votes to hold ex-Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows in criminal contempt of Congress

"This is as wrong as it gets, and I think deep down, everyone knows it," Rep. Jim Jordan said.

Published: December 14, 2021 6:11pm

Updated: December 14, 2021 11:24pm

The House of Representatives on Tuesday night voted 221-208 to hold Mark Meadows, former chief of staff to President Donald Trump, in criminal contempt upon recommendation from the committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

The vote was mostly down party lines, and Jan. 6 committee members Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., and Adam Kinzinger, R-Il., were the only two Republicans to side with Democrats.

Meadows was threatened with contempt charges earlier this month after he stopped cooperating with the Jan. 6 panel. He then filed a lawsuit against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and the nine committee members in order to stop a subpoena issued to him and to Verizon, his personal cell phone carrier. 

The former North Carolina congressman argued the House's subpoenas would violate executive privilege, and he will cooperate when the litigation is resolved.

Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ind., said the contempt resolution is "a vote to put a good man in prison."

"This is as wrong as it gets, and I think deep down, everyone knows it," he said.

In remarks Tuesday morning, Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., said Meadows' testimony will help the committee if Trump sought to "obstruct or impede Congress’s official proceeding to count electoral votes."

"But Mr. Meadows has refused to give any testimony at all – even regarding non-privileged topics. That puts him in contempt of Congress," Thompson said. 

He said Meadows needs to testify about Jan. 6, as well as  "Trump’s efforts to persuade state officials to alter their official election results." 

The committee is subpoenaing cell phone records because "Meadows participated in a phone call between President Trump and Georgia Secretary of State Raffensperger," Thompson said. "He was on the phone when President Trump asked the Secretary of State to ‘find 11,780 votes’ to change the result of the election in Georgia."

Both Democrat Reps. Pete Aguilar and Adam Schiff argued that Meadows is willing to discuss privileged conversations with Trump in his new book, "The Chief's Chief," but he will not speak with the committee about those conversations. 

Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Il., said that Meadows has already provided more than 11,000 pages of evidence to the committee. Davis wants to know why the Capitol was "unprotected on Jan. 6." He said Democrats should be focusing on implementing measures to make the Capitol safer rather than creating "purely political" contempt resolutions.

Wyoming Republican Rep. Liz Cheney said the committee needs to ask Meadows "about emails and texts he has given us without any privilege claim. His role in the Raffensperger call cannot be privileged, nor can his dealings with a member of this body regarding Jeff Clark. We must get to the objective truth and ensure that January 6th never happens again."

The committee voted to recommend contempt charges against Trump Department of Justice attorney Jeffrey Clark earlier this month. He was deeply concerned about election fraud in 2020, and Trump reportedly considered promoting Clark to acting attorney general.

The House also voted on to charge Trump White House strategist Steve Bannon with criminal contempt for not cooperating with the Jan. 6 committee, and his trial is set for July.

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