Jan. 6 panel set to vote on Meadows’ outrage
WASHINGTON (AP) – The House panel investigating the Jan.6 Capitol uprising is expected to recommend contempt charges against former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows as lawmakers release new details on the thousands of emails and texts he gave to the Committee.
Outlining the arguments for the contempt vote, the nine-member panel released a 51-page report on Sunday evening that details its questions about the documents it has already provided – including 6,600 pages of recordings taken from the accounts of personal messaging and around 2,000 SMS. .
The panel did not disclose the documents but described some of them. The report gives details of Meadows’ efforts to help Donald Trump reverse his presidential defeat, communications with members of Congress and the organizers of a rally on the morning of the uprising, and frantic messages among assistants and others as the violent attack unfolded that day. .
The panel says it also wants to know if Trump was engaged in discussions over the National Guard response, which was delayed for hours as violence escalated and rioters brutally beat police guarding Capitol Hill.
The report says documents provided by Meadows show he sent an email to an unidentified person saying the guard would be present to “protect the Trump pros” and that more would be available on hold. The committee does not give any further details on the email.
The committee says in the report that Trump’s former senior White House aide “is ideally placed to provide key information, straddling an official role in the White House and an unofficial role related to the re-election campaign. of Mr. Trump ”.
The contempt vote comes after more than two months of negotiations with Meadows and his attorney and as the panel also struggled to obtain information from some of Trump’s other key aides, like his longtime ally Steve Bannon. The House voted to recommend charges against Bannon in October, and the Justice Department charged him with two counts of contempt last month.
The panel aims to develop the most comprehensive record to date of the violent attack, in which hundreds of Trump supporters violently bypassed law enforcement, stormed onto Capitol Hill and disrupted certification of Biden’s victory. Meadows’ testimony could be key, as he was Trump’s main aide at the time and was with him in the White House when rioters breached the building.
Committee chair, Democratic Representative Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, scheduled the vote last week after Meadows failed to show up for his testimony. In a transcript of that meeting released on Sunday, a member of the panel’s investigative staff details several of the questions they allegedly asked. Many questions revolve around Trump’s efforts to overturn the election in the weeks leading up to the insurgency, including Meadows’ outreach to states and his communications with members of Congress.
Committee staff said they would have questioned Meadows about emails “to the Department of Justice leadership on December 29 and 30, 2020 and January 1, 2021, encouraging investigations into suspicions of voter fraud,” although election officials and courts across the country had refuted the allegations.
The panel said Meadows, a former Republican congressman from North Carolina, also provided text messages sent to and by members of Congress “before, during and after the attack on the United States Capitol. One exchange with a lawmaker concerned efforts to contact state lawmakers about the election because “POTUS wants to talk to them.” POTUS stands for President of the United States.
In a text exchange with an unidentified senator, the committee said, Meadows said Trump believed Vice President Mike Pence had the power to reject voters in his role as certification chairman. Pence did not have that power under the law, as the vice president’s office is largely ceremonial.
In other texts, sent on the day of the attack, former Meadows colleagues encouraged him to get Trump to discourage violence, the committee said. Likewise, in an exchange with an organizer of the rally that morning – where Trump told his supporters to “fight like hell” – the organizer told Meadows they were “desperately” in need of directives from him because things “got crazy.”
Meadows, who hesitated from questions from the committee, citing allegations of Trump’s executive privilege, sued the panel, asking the court to strike down two subpoenas that he said are “too broad and unduly onerous.” The lawsuit accuses the committee of going too far by issuing a subpoena to Verizon for its cell phone recordings.
Thompson and the committee’s Republican vice-chair, Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, said the trial “will not succeed in slowing down the select committee’s investigation or preventing us from obtaining the information we seek.”
The panel has already interviewed nearly 300 witnesses and lawmakers have said they are planning a series of hearings early next year to make many of their findings public.
The panel’s expected vote to recommend contempt of Congress charges would send the case to the entire House, which is likely to approve the measure and expose Meadows to criminal prosecution by the Justice Department.
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