ATLANTA — A defiant Mark Meadows joked about his text messages and glad-handed Republicans as the House of Representatives debated whether to hold him in criminal contempt of Congress for his refusal to cooperate with the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

“The enemy means ... for evil. He will make it good. He will turn it good,” Meadows said in a keynote speech at a dinner in Atlanta, paraphrasing a verse in Genesis. “I say that because tonight allows for it. The Democrats are wanting to send a clear message that not only should I be referred for criminal contempt but that anybody that is a conservative and supported Donald Trump should be ashamed. They’re not going to intimidate me.”


The event marked the launch of a state legislative Freedom Caucus network. More than 200 political operatives and state lawmakers from 28 states gave Meadows, a founding member of the House Freedom Caucus and its former chairman, a standing ovation.

The White House chief of staff under former President Donald Trump cracked a joke about text messages he received on Jan. 6 that the committee revealed ahead of referring him for contempt. At a time he was being written off politically, his son left him a voicemail with a quote from Teddy Roosevelt, Meadows explained.

“I lost his voicemail. Obviously, I didn’t lose a whole bunch of text messages,” Meadows said, prompting laughter in the room.


But when discussing the text messages in an interview with the Washington Examiner before the dinner, Meadows took on a more serious tone.

“They chose to, instead of using it as a real investigation, to publicize private text messages. I think it just shows how unserious they are about [a] real investigation,” Meadows said.

Even as he resists providing information that he argues is subject to executive privilege, prompting the committee’s move to hold him in contempt of Congress, Meadows told the Washington Examiner, “I have nothing to hide. President Trump has nothing to hide.”

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(Emily Brooks/Washington Examiner)

“Trying to provide information in a spirit of cooperation — I think it shows my intent that I've been trying to, in good faith, help their investigation out. Sadly, the results over the last several days has confirmed my worst fears that this is more political than it is really investigated,” Meadows said.

Meadows provided the committee with thousands of emails, text messages, and other documents relevant to its investigation into the Jan. 6 attack, but he refused to provide information that he argues is protected under “executive privilege” and also declined to sit for a planned deposition.

After the committee said it would recommend holding Meadows in criminal contempt of Congress over his refusal to cooperate, he filed a lawsuit against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and members of the committee. The lawsuit argued that the committee serves no legislative purpose and that it is not a legitimate committee because it has no members appointed “in consultation with” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.

Ahead of voting on the contempt referral, the committee revealed a trickle of juicy information it had received from Meadows.

A report from the select committee said that Meadows sent an email described by the committee as saying that the National Guard would be present to “protect pro-Trump people” and that other Guard troops would be on standby.

Wyoming Republican Rep. Liz Cheney, a prominent Trump critic and vice chairwoman of the committee, read aloud text messages that Meadows received from members of Congress, Donald Trump Jr., and Fox News personalities during the attack urging Trump to take action.

Meadows declined to elaborate on what he meant in the email about protecting Trump supporters and said he hasn’t read all of the text messages that he and his legal team provided to the committee.


“I don't want to get into the facts and try to litigate and counteract every single text message out there,” Meadows said. “But I have said publicly that President Trump was very active two days prior to Jan. 6, wanting to make sure that the National Guard was there so that the protests that could happen could be done in a peaceful way."

“No one to my knowledge in the White House had any advance knowledge that there was going to be a breach of security at the Capitol,” Meadows added. “Any suggestion otherwise is not backed up by facts.”