House lawmakers voted Tuesday to hold former White House chief of staff Mark MeadowsMark MeadowsAre the legal walls closing in on Donald Trump? Jan. 6 probe roils Cheney race in Wyoming House has the power to subpoena its members — but does it have the will? MORE in contempt of Congress as the special committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol released a second batch of text messages from allies begging Meadows to try to convince then-President TrumpDonald TrumpDeputy AG: DOJ investigating fake Trump electors Former Boston Red Sox star David Ortiz elected to Baseball Hall of Fame Overnight Health Care — Senators unveil pandemic prep overhaul MORE to stop the violent insurrection.
“It’s really bad up here on the hill,” one unidentified GOP lawmaker texted Meadows that day.
“The President needs to stop this asap,” texted another GOP lawmaker.
“Fix this now,” wrote a third Republican.
Tuesday’s vote was 222 to 208, with 2 Republicans, Reps. Liz CheneyElizabeth (Liz) Lynn CheneyThe Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden faces Ukraine decision amid Russia aggression Cheney hits Gingrich for saying Jan. 6 panel members may be jailed The Hill's Morning Report - US warns Kremlin, weighs more troops to Europe MORE (Wyo.) and Adam KinzingerAdam Daniel KinzingerCheney hits Gingrich for saying Jan. 6 panel members may be jailed Jan. 6 committee subpoenas leaders of 'America First' movement Kinzinger welcomes baby boy MORE (Ill.), crossing the aisle to join every Democrat in supporting the measure.
The House’s action refers Meadows to the Justice Department on criminal contempt charges for refusing to testify before the select committee probing the Jan. 6 attack. Meadows had provided thousands of pages of documents to investigators, then refused the panel’s request, under subpoena, to talk about them. It was that recalcitrance that prompted the contempt vote.
"It's a two-part test in order to show compliance with our work: one is the production of documents; the second is sitting for a deposition or interview,” said Rep. Pete AguilarPeter (Pete) Ray AguilarBass raises nearly million since launching LA mayor campaign Joining Pelosi, Hoyer says lawmakers should be free to trade stocks House Democratic conference postponed due to COVID-19 MORE (D-Calif.), a member of the Jan. 6 panel. “Mr. Meadows fulfilled one, but he did not fulfill the other."
Meadows, who led the far-right House Freedom Caucus when he served in the lower chamber, becomes the second person in Trump’s orbit to be held in contempt by the House. In October, nine House Republicans joined all Democrats to vote to hold former Trump adviser Stephen Bannon in contempt; weeks later, a federal grand jury indicted Bannon for failing to comply with a subpoena from the Jan. 6 panel. His trial is scheduled to start in July.
The stonewalling — and the long delay in Bannon’s case — has raised questions about whether Trump’s allies will be able to run out the clock on the select committee's investigation, particularly in light of the certainty that Republicans would quickly end the probe if they win control of the House after next year’s midterm elections.
But Aguilar dismissed those concerns on Tuesday, saying an overwhelming majority of witnesses are cooperating while vowing that the panel will have a report finalized and released next year before those elections.
“Just because you see a couple people who are not cooperating, that's not accurate because there are ... hundreds that are," he said.
Aguilar said the committee has been in ongoing discussions with Meadows's attorney and that the panel is willing to hear his story if he has another change of heart and agrees to cooperate. But Democrats aren’t holding their breath for that reversal, noting that Meadows’s initial cooperation had angered Trump, who remains a kingmaker in the GOP.
"It's certainly our hope that Mark Meadows will cooperate,” said Rep. Hakeem JeffriesHakeem Sekou JeffriesPelosi says she will run for reelection in 2022 WATCH: The Hill recaps the top stories of the week Fury over voting rights fight turns personal on Capitol Hill MORE (N.Y.), chairman of the House Democratic Caucus. “But when the cult leader speaks, the cult members usually fall in line."
Meadows has handed over more than 9,000 pages of text messages, emails and other correspondence related to the GOP’s effort on Jan. 6 to overturn President BidenJoe BidenDeputy AG: DOJ investigating fake Trump electors On The Money — Vaccine-or-test mandate for businesses nixed Warner tests positive for breakthrough COVID-19 case MORE’s election victory. But Meadows and his legal team have argued that he does not need to sit for a deposition because his former boss, Trump, has claimed executive privilege.
“The executive privilege that Donald Trump has claimed is his to waive,” Meadows said Monday in an interview with Fox News's Sean HannitySean Patrick HannityBiden frustration with Fox News breaks through surface Briefing in brief: US commitment to NATO 'ironclad' CNN's Acosta on Doocy and Biden: 'We never got an apology' from Trump MORE. “It’s not mine to waive. It’s not Congress’s to wave.”
House lawmakers were unpersuaded, saying that the Jan. 6 committee needed to ask Meadows about thousands of pages of records he voluntarily turned over and that a number of his actions related to the Jan. 6 push could not be considered privileged.
Meadows “provided roughly 9,000 pages of records that he and his attorney freely admit cannot be held back by any sort of privilege claim. ... His participation in a January phone call aimed at pressuring state legislators to overturn election results, that’s not protected by executive privilege,” Rep. Bennie ThompsonBennie Gordon ThompsonAlex Jones says he invoked Fifth Amendment 'almost 100 times' before Jan. 6 panel Democrats ask for information on specialized Border Patrol teams The Hill's Morning Report - US warns Kremlin, weighs more troops to Europe MORE (D-Miss.), chairman of the Jan. 6 panel, testified in a House Rules Committee hearing on Tuesday.
“His communications with the Georgia secretary of state regarding efforts to disrupt the election, that’s not protected. The list goes on and on.”
The Jan. 6 panel’s vice chair, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), read the second batch of Meadows text messages during Tuesday’s Rules hearing. A day earlier, Cheney read a string of text messages sent to Meadows from allies inside and outside the Capitol pleading with him to try to stop the violence.
Among those he received were texts from a trio of Fox News hosts — Hannity, Laura IngrahamLaura Anne IngrahamLaura Ingraham 'not saying' if she'd support Trump in 2024 Fox News tops ratings for coverage on Jan. 6 anniversary events Division reigns over Jan. 6 anniversary MORE and Brian Kilmeade — Donald Trump Jr., GOP lawmakers, reporters and other Trump administration officials.
“He's got to condemn this shit ASAP,” Trump’s eldest son texted Meadows as the attack was underway.
“I'm pushing it hard. I agree,” Meadows replied.
But when Trump still had not told the rioters to stop, his son reached out again to Meadows.
“We need an Oval Office address. He has to lead now,” Trump Jr. texted. “It has gone too far and gotten out of hand.”