A House panel tasked with investigating the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol voted Monday to advance contempt charges against former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows.
Seven Democrats and two Republicans who make up the panel voted unanimously to cite Meadows in contempt of Congress for refusing to comply with a subpoena to testify regarding the Jan. 6 attack.
Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson, a Mississippi Democrat, said Meadows “played a role or was witness to key events up to and leading to the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol.”
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Meadows last week told the panel he would not sit for questioning because it would have veered into privileged information from his time serving in the Trump administration.
The Democratic-led House is expected to approve the resolution later this week, which will send the matter to the Justice Department, where Meadows, who represented North Carolina's 11th District in the House from 2013 until last year, could face criminal charges.
The House earlier this year voted to find former Trump adviser Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress. Bannon was indicted by a federal grand jury on Nov. 12.
Prior to the committee vote Monday, Republican Liz Cheney of Wyoming laid out a case against Meadows as a key link to Trump during the riots, influencing Trump's refusal to quickly call for the rioters to leave the Capitol. Cheney read emails from Fox News icons, including Sean Hannity, as well as Donald Trump Jr., who contacted Meadows and urged him to tell Trump to call off the protesters with a statement.
Cheney said the emails are evidence of the president's “supreme dereliction of duty” and that Meadows’s testimony is “necessary to inform our legislative judgments.”
Cheney said Meadows also has information on Trump’s efforts to overturn election results in Georgia and was present during Trump's conversations with Georgia election officials.
"It certainly appears that Mr. Meadows played a key role in the events that culminated in the violent attack on the Capitol and our democracy," Rep. Zoe Lofgren, a California Democrat, said.
Panel lawmakers say Meadows, while refusing to testify, has dedicated his time to promoting his book about his time in the Oval Office, and it has included information of interest to the committee.
Republican Adam Kinzinger of Illinois said Meadows "has committed a crime, in this case a premeditated one."
Kinzinger said Meadows declined to answer the panel's questions while at the same time "[publishing] that part of the story in a book to line his pockets."
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Meadows, meanwhile, is suing Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the committee over the inquiry, arguing the Jan. 6 panel is “without legal authority” to compel him to testify on privileged matters.
Thompson dismissed Meadows’s lawsuit as a distraction and said the panel has interviewed more than 300 willing witnesses. Meadows “didn’t even show up” and “told us to pound sand,” Thompson said Monday.