January 6 panel moves toward contempt charge against Meadows

Mark Meadow served as former president Donald Trump's chief of staff.

 U.S. Representative Mark Meadows (R-NC) addresses reporters during a break in the fourth day of the Senate impeachment trial of U.S. President Donald Trump at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., January 24, 2020.  (photo credit: REUTERS)
U.S. Representative Mark Meadows (R-NC) addresses reporters during a break in the fourth day of the Senate impeachment trial of U.S. President Donald Trump at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., January 24, 2020.
(photo credit: REUTERS)

 The US House of Representatives committee probing the deadly January 6 Capitol riot said on Thursday it would vote next week on whether Mark Meadows, who served as former President Donald Trump's chief of staff, should be cited for contempt of Congress.

The Select Committee said it would hold a business meeting on Monday to vote on a report recommending the full House cite Meadows for contempt of Congress and refer him for federal prosecution.

Meadows has been called repeatedly to appear for depositions before the Democratic-led Select Committee and has declined to do so despite being subpoenaed. While he has turned over some information requested by the panel, he has held back many documents, arguing they are protected because he had worked for the president.

A House member before joining the Trump administration, Meadows could become the third associate of the former Republican president to face a criminal contempt charge. The Justice Department, at the House's request, has already brought similar charges against Trump's former chief strategist, Steve Bannon. The House is also considering similar action against former Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark.

Meadows has filed a lawsuit against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Select Committee, accusing it of violating legal protections for a senior adviser to a president and using excessively broad subpoenas to obtain his mobile telephone data.

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., September 18, 2020 (credit: AL DRAGO/REUTERS)U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., September 18, 2020 (credit: AL DRAGO/REUTERS)

While some 275 witnesses have testified to the committee, Trump has urged associates not to cooperate, calling the investigation politically motivated and arguing that his communications are protected by executive privilege. Many legal experts have said, however, that executive privilege does not apply to former presidents.

A US appeals court on Thursday rejected a request by Trump to withhold records from the Select Committee, saying he had provided "no basis" for his request.

A handful of witnesses testified on Thursday, including Kash Patel, who worked in the Trump administration, and Ali Alexander, who helped organize the "Stop the Steal" rally.

Trump at that rally repeated his unfounded allegation that his loss to Democratic President Joe Biden in the November 2020 election was the result of fraud, and urged his supporters to march on the Capitol.

Ali released his opening statement to journalists, insisting he had nothing to do with any planning of violence or lawbreaking on January 6.