The House of Representatives has voted to hold former president Donald Trump’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows, in contempt of Congress – a week after he decided to stop cooperating with the committee investigating the Capitol siege.
The vote on Tuesday night was 222-208, with two Republicans – Adam Kinzinger of Illinois and Liz Cheney of Wyoming – joining the Democrats in supporting the criminal charges against Meadows.
It’s now up to the Justice Department to decide if it’s going to follow the recommendation by the lawmakers and prosecute him.
The House already voted to refer a contempt of Congress charge against former White House adviser Steve Bannon in late October. This also related to the defiance of a congressional subpoena in the investigation of the Capitol riots, with the DOJ indicting him a month later. Bannon, who pleaded not guilty, could face a year behind bars.
But Meadows, who used to be North Carolina’s representative between 2013 and 2020, has become the first former lawmaker ever to be held in criminal contempt by Congress.
The 62-year-old has already handed over thousands of emails and text messages to the panel, which is investigating the events of January 6, when hundreds of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol building as Congress met inside to certify the presidential election results in favor of his Democratic rival Joe Biden.
However, Meadows insists that some of his conversations with Trump from that day should be shielded by executive privilege and refuses to testify before Congress.
He himself has sued the committee, saying that the court should drop two subpoenas against him due to them being “overly broad and unduly burdensome.”
Liz Cheney, the panel’s vice-chair, insisted on Tuesday that the documents presented by Trump’s former chief of staff only underscored the need for him to testify, as it “will bear on another key question before this committee: Did Donald Trump, through action or inaction, corruptly seek to obstruct or impede Congress’ official proceeding to count electoral votes?”
The Republicans defended Meadows, with Ohio Representative Jim Jordan saying: “Today they are destroying executive privilege. It is a vote to put a good man in prison.”