Meadows backs off impeaching Rosenstein after leadership talks

Rep. Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsThe Hill's Morning Report — Mueller aftermath: What will House Dems do now? Mueller report poses new test for Dems Washington in frenzy over release of Mueller report MORE (R-N.C.) says he is tabling his efforts to impeach Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod Jay RosensteinTrump denies ordering McGahn to oust Mueller Poll: Majority says Barr's summary of Mueller report was 'largely accurate' Heavy lapses in judgment are politicizing the justice system MORE after having several meetings with Republican leadership, stating that he would instead pursue contempt if the Justice Department (DOJ) does not turn over documents Congress is seeking. 

While the impeachment option remains on the table, Meadows told reporters Thursday he now hopes it will be a contempt process rather than impeachment. 

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When asked what will happen if he does not receive the documents two House committees are seeking by the time the House returns from August recess, Meadows said, "I think the very first order of business would be moving the House to a contempt vote."

"I think it is our desire to have more of a contempt process, which obviously has to have a partner with the Speaker, and I think hopefully they will at least acknowledge we've made some reasonable concessions to give DOJ and FBI," Meadows told a scrum of reporters.

Meadows, the chairman of the House Freedom Caucus and fierce DOJ critic, said his decision to table impeachment comes after he had "very good, good conversations with the leadership team [and] with Chairman [of the Judiciary Committee Rep. Bob] Goodlatte [R-Va.] on a path forward."

This, he added, would be the DOJ's and FBI's "one last chance to comply."

"I hope we can avoid impeachment and hopefully avoid contempt and get the documents, but certainly both those things are on the table and remain on the table to have more of a contempt process," he added. "Both options remain there."

Meadows said pursuing contempt, if the DOJ does not cooperate, could "unite" leadership and some of the House Republicans who "have been more frustrated," rather than going for the more nuclear impeachment option. 

- Morgan Chalfant contributed.