US Capitol riot panel votes to hold Trump aide in contempt
Washington, Dec 14: The United States congressional committee probing the January 6 Capitol riots has voted to recommend contempt charges against Mark Meadows, who served as former President Donald Trump's chief of staff.
The House of Representatives Select Committee, which has seven Democratic and two Republican members, sought the "contempt of congress" criminal charge in a unanimous 9-0 vote on Monday.
The move clears the way for a vote by the full chamber and comes as lawmakers demand Meadows' testimony about then-President Trump's actions before and during the insurrection.
"Whatever legacy he thought he left in the House, this is his legacy now,'' committee Chairman Bennie Thompson said in his opening statement.
"His former colleagues singling him out for criminal prosecution because he wouldn't answer questions about what he knows about a brutal attack on our democracy. That's his legacy.''
Repeated calls to testify
Meadows, a former Republican congressman from North Carolina, has been called repeatedly for depositions before the Democratic-led committee but he has made it clear that he has no intention of complying despite a subpoena.
He missed a scheduled deposition for the second time last week.
The former Trump aide told the panel he would hold back his testimony until courts resolve his former boss's claim of "executive privilege," which allows presidents to keep certain conversations with advisers confidential.
Meadows, who was a member of the House for over seven years, has sued House Speaker Nancy Pelosi over the matter.
Examiners say that Meadows has subverted any right to refuse testimony as he is promoting a new memoir that details accounts of January 6 and his conversations with Trump.
Meadows has also spoken about the attack multiple times in appearances on right-wing network Fox News.
Panel report sheds light on Meadows' records
The fourth and the final chief of staff of the Trump presidency is "uniquely situated to provide key information, having straddled an official role in the White House and unofficial role related to Mr. Trump's reelection campaign,'' the panel said in a 51-page report released on Sunday.
The report lists the questions lawmakers have about the thousands of emails and texts that Meadows had provided to the committee before deciding to put an end to the cooperation.
Meadows had turned over 6,600 pages of records taken from personal email accounts and about 2,000 text messages.
While the panel has not released all the documents, Sunday's report says they include interactions about Meadows' efforts to help Trump overturn his defeat in the presidential election, communications with members of Congress and organizers of a rally held on the morning of January 6 and frenzied messages among aides and others as the violence unfolded that day.
The communications include a January 5 email in which he told an unidentified person the National Guard was on standby to "protect pro-Trump people."
On Monday, Meadows' lawyer George Terwilliger wrote to the panel describing the proposed prosecution as "manifestly unwise, unjust and unfair."
Meanwhile, the House of Representatives is expected to vote on Tuesday to refer Meadows to the Justice Department.