January 6 committee to vote on holding Meadows in contempt. January 6 committee chairman says, Mark Meadows has no credible excuse for stonewalling investigation. January 6 committee chairman says, history won`t be kind to those not cooperating with committee.
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: THE REIDOUT with Joy Reid is up next. Hi, Joy.
JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: How are you doing, Ari? Thank you very much. Have a wonderful evening, much appreciated.
All right, everybody, good evening. You are looking at the room where members of the House select committee on January 6th will soon be gathering for a special meeting. In this hour, they will be voting on a measure to refer criminal charges for Donald Trump`s former chief of staff, former Congressman Mark Meadows, who has defied their subpoena. They`ll also be discussing the damning new evidence that they have gathered which sheds new light on Trump`s attempted coup and Meadows` personal involvement. You will not want to miss this. This comes after Meadows abruptly halted his cooperation with the committee last week. He has twice refused to show up for his scheduled depositions and he`s now suing the committee in an effort to shield Trump and avoid accountability.
And as the committee detailed in the report that they`re voting on tonight, it is clear that there is a lot that he is still hiding. For one, the committee has learned that Meadows intended for the National Guard to deploy to the Capitol on January 6th, not to protect Meadows` former colleagues in Congress or their staff from bodily harm or to assist Capitol police in defending the seat of American democracy, oh, no, but rather to protect Trump`s supporters, the very people who were in the process of storming the Capitol. In short, he wanted the U.S. military to take the side of the insurrectionists.
We are hoping to get more on that developing story during tonight`s meeting which is set to get underway shortly.
Joining me now is Joyce Vance, former U.S. Attorney, Maya Wiley, former Assistant U.S. Attorney, and former Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri.
Let me just go through with each with you, and I want to start, Joyce, with you, because in the letters between the committee chair and Meadows` attorney, one thing is very clear and very confusing. Meadows turned over a lot of stuff. He`s already disclosed a lot of information in his book. Upon what basis could one suddenly decide that the information is privileged when you`ve begun cooperating and turning things over?
JOYCE VANCE It`s such a good question, Joy, because Meadows turns over documents, including the PowerPoint we`ve all been talking about explicitly saying that they`re not privileged.
REID: I`m going to interrupt you. I`m so sorry, Joyce. I`m going to interrupt you because Congressman Bennie Thompson, the chairman of the committee, is starting. Let`s listen in.
REP. BENNIE THOMPSON (D-MS): Without objection, the chair is authorized to declare the committee in recess at any time. I now recognize myself for an opening statement.
Before I start my statement, let me, on behalf of the committee, add our condolences to the people of Kentucky and surrounding states on the devastation they received during the tornados. Our hearts and prayers go out to all those impacted.
This week, I expect that roughly a dozen key witnesses will provide testimony on the record in our investigation. We`ll hear from many more informally as we continue to gather facts about the violence of January 6th and its causes. That should put us well north of the 300 mark in terms of witnesses who have given us information. Add to that, more than 30,000 records and nearly 250 substantive tips on our tip line and anyone listening at home tonight, if you have any information you want to share with us, you can find our tip line on the select committee`s website, january 6th.house.gov.
The court of appeals here in Washington ruled quickly in our favor regarding the select committee`s work to uncover relevant information on, and day to day, we are getting a clearer picture of what happened, who was involved and who paid for it and where the money went. So, I`m pleased to report we`re making some progress. And before too long, our findings will be out in the open. We`ll have public hearings. We`ll tell this story to American people but we won`t do it piecemeal. We`ll do it when we can tell the story all at once start to finish, not leaving anyone guessing and not allowing it to fade in the memory`s of last week`s news.
This story is too important. The stakes are too high. We have to do this job right. And that means we have to address the handful of outliers soberly and appropriately. That`s why we`re here this evening.
The select committee`s report referring Mr. Meadows for criminal contempt charges is clear and compelling. As White House chief of staff, Mr. Meadows played a role in or was witness to key events leading up to and including the January 6th assault on the United States Capitol. Don`t let lawsuits or op-eds about executive privilege by Mr. Meadows or his representatives confuse you.
It comes down to this, Mr. Meadows started by doing the right thing, cooperating. He handed over records he didn`t try to shield behind some excuse. But in an investigation like ours, that`s just the first step. When the records raise questions, as these most certainly do, you have to come in and answer the questions. And when it`s time for him to follow the law, come in and testifies on those questions. He changed his mind and told us to pound sand. He didn`t even show up.
Now, this happened the same day his book was published, the same book that goes into detail about matters the select committee is reviewing. It also details conversations he had with President Trump and out others, conversations we want to hear more about. He had also appeared on national television discussing the events of January 6th. He has no credible excuse for stonewalling the select committee`s investigation.
We did receive another letter today from Mr. Meadows` attorney asking that we not hold his client in criminal contempt without objection that letter will be made part of the record. A small group of people have gotten a lot of attention because of their defiance but many others have taken took a different path and provided important information about January 6th and the context in which the riot occurred. Anyone who wants to cooperate with our investigation can do so. Nearly everyone has.
Our democracy was inches from ruin. Our system of government was stretched to the breaking point. Members and staff were terrorized. Officers fought hand to hand for hours. People lost their lives.
The select committee recently toured the Capitol and saw firsthand what our brave Capitol police had to endure and heard them say had it not been for the Metropolitan Police timely arrival, the rioters would have succeeded. God only knows what the outcome would have been if that had occurred.
We want to figure out why and share that information with the American people. And either you`re on the side of us trying to figure out why or you are trying to stop us from getting those answers, you can parade whatever argument you want, but, really, that`s all there is to it. In real life, there aren`t a lot of bright line moments. This is one of them.
And if you are listening at home, Mr. Meadows, Mr. Bannon, Mr. Clark, I want you to know this. History will be written about these times about the work this committee has undertaken and history will not look upon any of you as martyrs. History will not look upon you as a victim. History will not dwell on your long list of privilege claims or your legal sleight of hand. History will record that in a critical moment in our democracy, most people were on the side of finding the truth, of providing accountability, of strengthening our system for future generations.
And history will also record in this critical moment some people would not, that some people hid behind excuses, went to great lengths to avoid answering questions and explaining what they had done and what they knew. I predict that history won`t be kind to those people.
What`s especially jarring about the referral we are considering tonight is that Mr. Meadows was a member of this body for more than seven years. He was a leading voice in certain corners even briefly, the ranking member of the Oversight and Reform Committee.
It`s not hard to locate records of his time in the House and find Mr. Meadows full of indignation because at the time, a prior administration wasn`t cooperating with the congressional investigation to his satisfaction.
Whatever legacy he thought he left in the House, this is his legacy now. His former colleagues singing him out for criminal prosecution because he wouldn`t answer questions about what he knows about a brutal attack on our democracy. That is his legacy. But he`s hasn`t left us any choice. Mr. Meadows put himself in this situation and he must now accept the consequences.
So, I will support the select committee`s adoption of this report, recommending the House cite Mark Randall Meadows for contempt of Congress and refer him to the Department of Justice for prosecution.
I`ll now yield to a distinguished leader of the select committee, Ms. Cheney of Wyoming, for any opening remark she care to make.
REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
We are here to address a very serious matter, contempt of Congress by a former chief of staff to a former president of the United States. We do not do this lightly. And, indeed, we had hoped not to take this step at all. For weeks, as the chairman noted, we worked with Mr. Meadow`s counsel to reach an agreement on cooperation. But shortly before his scheduled deposition, Mr. Meadows walked away from his commitment to appear and informed us he would no longer cooperate.
We believe Mr. Meadows is improperly asserting executive and other privileges but this vote on contempt today relates principally to Mr. Meadows` refusal to testify about text messages and other communications that he admits are not privileged. He has not claimed and does not have any privilege basis to refuse entirely to testify regarding these topics.
Let me give just three examples, first, President Trump`s failure to stop the violence. On January 6th, our Capitol building was attacked and invaded. The mob was summoned to Washington by President Trump, and as many of those involved have admitted on videotape and social media and in federal district court, they were provoked to violence by President Trump`s false claims that the election was stolen.
The violence was evident to all. It was covered in real-time by almost every news channel. But for 187 minutes, President Trump refused to act. When action by our president was required, essential and indeed compelled by his oath to our Constitution, Mr. Meadows received numerous text messages, which he has produced without any privilege claim imploring that Mr. Trump take the specific action we all knew his duty required.
These text messages leave no doubt the White House knew exactly what was happening here at the Capitol. Members of Congress, the press and others wrote to Mark Meadows as the attack was underway. One text Mr. Meadows received said, quote, we are under siege here at the Capitol, another, quote, they have breached the Capitol. In a third, Mark, protesters are literally storming the Capitol breaking windows on doors rushing in. Is Trump going to say something? A fourth, there is an armed standoff at the House chamber door. And another from someone inside the Capitol, we are all helpless.
Dozens of texts, including from Trump administration officials, urged immediate action by the president, quote, POTUS has to come out firmly and tell the protesters to dissipate. Someone is going to get killed. In another, Mark, he needs to stop this now. A third, in all caps, tell them to go home. A fourth, and I quote, POTUS needs to calm this shit down.
Indeed, according to the records, multiple Fox News hosts knew the president needed to act immediately. They texted Mr. Meadows and he has turned over those texts, quote, Mark, the president needs to tell people in the Capitol to go home.
This is hurting all of us. He is destroying his legacy, Laura Ingraham wrote. Please get him on T.V., destroying everything you have accomplished, Brian Kilmeade texted. Quote, can he make a statement? Ask people to leave the Capitol, Sean Hannity urged.
As the violence continued, one of the president`s sons texted Mr. Meadows, quote he`s got to condemn this shit ASAP. The Capitol police tweet is not enough, Donald Trump Jr. texted. Meadows responded, quote, I`m pushing it hard, I agree. Still, President Trump did not immediately act.
Donald Trump Jr. texted again and again, urging action by the president, quote, we need an Oval Office address. He has to lead now. It has gone too far and gotten out of hand, end quote. But hours passed without necessary action by the president.
These non-privileged texts are further evidence of President Trump`s supreme dereliction of duty during those 107 minutes and Mr. Meadows` testimony will bear on another key question before this committee, did Donald Trump, through action or inaction, corruptly seek to obstruct or impede Congress` official proceedings to count electoral votes? Mark Meadows testimony is necessary to inform our legislative judgments, yet he has refused to give any testimony at all, even regarding non-privileged topics. He is in contempt of Congress.
Mr. Meadows also has knowledge regarding President Trump`s efforts to persuade state officials to alter their official election results. In Georgia, for instance, Mr. Meadows participated on a phone call between President Trump and Georgia Secretary of State raffensperger. Meadows was on the phone when President Trump asked the secretary of state to, quote, find 11,780 votes to change the result of the presidential election in Georgia.
We know from the texts Mr. Meadows has turned over that at the time of that call, he appears to have been texting other participants on the call. Again, Mr. Meadows has no conceivable privilege basis to refuse to testify on this topic. He is in contempt of Congress.
Third, in the weeks of January 6th Trump`s appointees at the Justice Department informed him repeatedly that the president`s claims of election fraud were not supported by the evidence and that the election was not, in fact, stolen. President Trump intended to appoint Jeffrey Clark as attorney general in part so that Mr. Clark could alter the Department of Justice`s conclusions regarding the election.
Mr. Clark has informed this committee that he anticipates potential criminal prosecution related to these matters and intends in upcoming testimony to invoke his Fifth Amendment privilege against self- incrimination. As Mr. Meadows` non-privileged texts reveal, Meadows communicated multiple times with a member of Congress who was working with Mr. Clark. Mr. Meadows has no basis to refuse to testify regarding those communications. He is in contempt.
January 6th was without precedent. There has been no stronger case in our nation`s history for a congressional investigation into the actions of a former president. This investigation is not like other congressional inquiries. Our Constitution, the structure of our institutions and the rule of law, which are at the heart of what makes America great, are at stake. We cannot be satisfied with incomplete answers or half truths and we cannot surrender to President Trump`s efforts to hide what happened. We will be persistent, professional and nonpartisan. And we will get to the objective truth to ensure that January 6th never happens again.
I yield back.
THOMPSON: The gentle lady yields back.
Pursuant to notice, I now call up the report on a resolution recommending that the House of Representatives find Mark Randall Meadows in contempt of Congress for refusal to comply with a subpoena duly issued by the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6 Attack on the United States Capitol.
The report was circulated in advance and printed copies are available. The clerk shall designate the report.
CLERK: Report on a resolution recommending that the House of Representatives find Mark Randall Meadows in contempt of Congress for refusal to comply with the subpoena duly issued by the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6 Attack on the United States Capitol.
THOMPSON: Without objection, the report will be considered as read and open to amendment as any point.
The chair recognizes the gentlewoman from California Ms. Lofgren.
REP. ZOE LOFGREN (D-CA): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Like all of us on the committee, I knew and served with Mark Meadows when he was in the House. We got along reasonably well when he was here, although we certainly didn`t agree on many policy matters. I wished him well when he left Congress to go serve as the chief of staff to then- President Donald Trump in 2020.
But it`s shocking that we now have to face the fact that Mr. Meadows admits he played both an official and unofficial role in trying to undermine the results of the 2020 presidential election.
This committee`s job is to find out about that plot, the plot which led up to the events on January 6, and to propose legislative changes to prevent something like that from ever happening again.
Now, it`s been reported that, during the lead-up to January 6, the White House was directing the Department of Justice to investigate outrageous, really crazy conspiracy theories to try and seed doubt about the election, and as a predicate for the overturning of the election and the replacement of electors.
This was to benefit Mr. Trump`s effort to overturn the election. We need to talk to Mark Meadows about that. As the vice chair has mentioned, Mr. Meadows made a surprise visit to the state-run audit in Georgia, which preceded the infamous call that she recited, where the then-president asked the secretary of state to go find votes.
We need to talk to Mark Meadows about that.
Mr. Meadows interacted with a lot of people, allegedly including some of our own colleagues, on the day of the violent attack. And we learned that many of those interactions took place on a personal cell phone device, so we need to ask Mark Meadows about that.
Mr. Meadows himself has acknowledged that he has responsive and non- privileged documents and communications. He sent some of them to us. He filed others in court. It certainly appears that Mr. Meadows played a key role in events that culminated in the violent attack on the Capitol and on our democracy.
He has important information about those events, and he must follow the law and cooperate with this committee`s lawful requests, or face the consequences. And that`s why, much as we might personally like Mr. Meadows, we have to take this action today, because no one is above the law.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
THOMPSON: The gentlelady yields back.
The chair recognizes the gentleman from Illinois, Mr. Kinzinger.
REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R-IL): Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
This is a near unique moment in history, as we vote on whether to hold a former colleague in contempt of Congress. The last time that happened was 1832. Mark Meadows has committed a crime, in this case, a premeditated one. He thought carefully about his actions and actively chose to stonewall, which you can clearly see in his back-and-forth with the select committee.
First, he produced over 9,000 pages of documents from his time in the White House. Then, after his former boss made it clear his disappointment and displeasure, he did a 180, and he refused to answer even a single question from his former colleagues or even to show up at all.
This constitutes legal contempt, but also personal contempt. Mark Meadows` actions demonstrate his contempt for Congress, for the select committee, for his former colleagues and for the integrity of the democratic process.
He has clearly rejected this committee`s investigation. So now it`s time to see whether the Department of Justice can be more persuasive. No one is above the law, not even a former president`s chief of staff.
In a nation of laws, you cannot have it both ways. He can`t decline to tell his story to Congress and, on the very same day, publish part of that story in a book to line his pockets. He can`t declined to answer any questions on the many non-privileged documents he produced to us. He can`t unspeak what he has said and call it privileged after the fact.
It is perfectly conceivable that portions of what a president`s chief of staff knows is subject to a presidential privilege, shielding it from disclosure. But it is also true that not everything he knew or did during that period is privileged. Mark Meadows knows that.
It`s why he sent us the documents he did and why he -- what made his book possible. That`s why the law required him to show up for his deposition and to specify, in response to each question, what the answer was, and whether or not that answer, in fact, was privileged from disclosure.
His refusal to comply with the direction of Congress, stated plainly on the face of the select committee`s subpoena, is a display of his contempt for Congress, which now forces us to, sadly, have to take this action.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and I yield back.
THOMPSON: Gentleman yields back.
The chair recognizes the gentleman from California, Mr. Schiff.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I want to pick up where Mr. Kinzinger left off; 9,000 pages of records, that is what Mr. Meadows has turned over, records over which Mr. Meadows himself has asserted no claim of privilege, none. These include thousands of text messages spanning the months before Election Day, between Election Day and the end of the former president`s term in office.
Of these documents, I`m particularly struck by messages that come from lawmakers, who were sending them to Mr. Meadows in the days around January 6, a time period he`s now saying he won`t discuss with the committee.
I want to display just a few of the messages he received from people in Congress. The committee is not naming these lawmakers at this time, as our investigation is ongoing.
If we could cue the first graphic.
This one reads: "On January 6 2021, Vice President Mike Pence, as president of the Senate, should call out all electoral votes that he believes are unconstitutional as no electoral votes at all."
You can see why this is so critical to ask Mr. Meadows about, about a lawmaker suggesting that the former vice president simply throw out votes that he unilaterally deems unconstitutional in order to overturn a presidential election and subvert the will of the American people.
Here`s another from January 6 as the riot was ongoing.
And if we could cue the second graphic.
"The president needs to stop this ASAP."
On the 6th, Mr. Meadows received dozens upon dozens of panicked messages like this one from lawmakers and others trapped on Capitol Hill, from people watching at home, begging that the White House, that the president of the United States do something to stop the violence.
How did Meadows react to these cries for help? Whom did he tell? What did he do? And, critically, what did the president of the United States do, and what did he fail to do?
Mr. Meadows doesn`t think he should have to answer those questions. He wants the American people to be left in the dark.
Here`s the last message I want to highlight, again from a lawmaker in the aftermath of January 6, if we could cue graphic number three.
"Yesterday was a terrible day. We tried everything we could in our objection to the six states. I`m sorry nothing worked."
The day after a failed attempt to stop the peaceful transfer of power through violence, an elected lawmaker tells the White House chief of staff: "I`m sorry nothing worked."
That is chilling. We would like to ask Mr. Meadows what he thought about that.
Mr. Meadows` behavior and his refusal to do his moral duty shows why we need stronger tools to enforce congressional subpoenas. It`s an issue I have worked on for years. But, in the absence of those changes, we will use the tools that we have.
And I expect the Justice Department to move as swiftly in dealing with Mr. Meadows as it did with Mr. Bannon and prosecute him for violating the law and his duty as a citizen.
I support advancing this contempt referral, Mr. Chairman, and I yield back.
THOMPSON: Gentleman yields back.
The chair recognizes the gentleman from California, Mr. Aguilar.
REP. PETE AGUILAR (D-CA): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Last Tuesday, December 7, the select committee received a letter from Mr. Meadows` lawyer telling us that his client`s appearance for the deposition had become -- and I`m quoting -- "untenable."
Something else happened last Tuesday. "The Chief`s Chief" hit the bookstores, Mr. Meadows` memoir. Remember, this is a witness who`s refusing to comply with the law and answer our questions, in part because he says the former president has instructed him to do so. He says he was the chief of staff, and he couldn`t possibly disclose his conversations with the former president.
But let`s take a look at the book. This is from a section dealing with the January 6 rally at the Ellipse.
And I`m going to put this quote up here on the screens. I`m not going to read the whole thing, because we all know what the president said publicly that day. But I want to read this part.
"When he got off-stage, President Trump let me know that he had been speaking metaphorically about the walk to the Capitol. He knew as well as anyone that we couldn`t organize a trip like that on such short notice."
This is interesting, because the select committee has a lot of questions about what the president said and did on January 6. We have a lot of questions about the protests that day and how they escalated into a riot.
And Mark Meadows says he can`t discuss those details with us, but, apparently, he can put them in his book. He can also discuss them on television. Just weeks after January 6, Mr. Meadows discussed his interactions with the former president in an interview with Laura Ingraham.
Ms. Ingraham asked him: "At any time, did president -- did the president of the United States want to or seek to interfere with the vote-counting of legitimate votes of the election?"
He was happy to answer her question.
Fast-forward to last week. Mr. Meadows is back on TV a number of times discussing conversations with the president about security concerns on January 6. We had questions about that, too. We had questions about his e- mails that focused on protecting -- quote -- "pro-Trump people" -- end quote.
He will share details about his interactions with the former president with Laura Ingraham. He will share the details with Sean Hannity. He will share details with anyone who will shell out 25 bucks for his book.
But in the face of a lawful subpoena from the select committee, as we work to get answers for the American people, the only thing Mr. Meadows will share are his excuses. We don`t accept his excuses. He must be held accountable.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I yield back.
THOMPSON: Chair yields back.
Chair recognizes the gentlewoman from Florida, Mrs. Murphy.
REP. STEPHANIE MURPHY (D-FL): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
In a few moments, I will vote to recommend that the House find former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows in contempt of Congress for failing to comply with our committee`s subpoena for documents and testimony related to the January 6 Attack.
Mr. Meadows was a central participant in the events that culminated in this assault on our Capitol, our country and our core democratic values to create the most accurate account of what occurred, why it occurred, and what specific steps we can take to prevent it from occurring again, our committee needs to hear from Mr. Meadows.
The Supreme Court once observed that a subpoena is not a -- quote -- "an invitation to a game of hare and hounds, in which the witness must testify only if cornered at the end of the chase."
Yet, as detailed in the underlying report, it is clear to any reasonable observer that Mr. Meadows has treated this committee`s requests for relevant information as if it were a game.
To read the record of how Mr. Meadows has responded to our subpoena issued in late September is to come away exhausted, exasperated and just enraged. Any regular citizen who flouted a congressional or court subpoena like Mr. Meadows would have faced serious legal challenges -- consequences, and rightly so.
This is not a witness who has acted in good faith, generally willing to tell his side of the story, while declining to disclose certain information based on clear and colorable assertion of legal privilege.
To the contrary, Mr. Meadows initially delayed, resisted and made unreasonable legal arguments, failed to produce documents in a timely fashion, and refused to appear for a scheduled deposition.
Then he had an apparent change of heart and pledged his cooperation, leading to the production of about 9,000 e-mails and text messages. And then he reversed course yet again, categorically refusing to be deposed about what those documents reveal.
In summary, Mr. Meadows` tactics have wasted the committee`s time and taxpayer-funded resources. He`s left us with incomplete and inadequate information about what he did and what he knows, and hindered our effort to find the truth.
It bears emphasis that the documents Mr. Meadows ultimately turned over raise as many questions as they answer. For example, the documents confirm that Mr. Meadows used personal Gmail accounts and a personal cell phone to conduct official business and to send communications related to January 6, and that he also used Signal, the private messenger application.
Had Mr. Meadows been deposed under oath, the committee would have asked him about his handling of official government records, a topic that is not subject to any conceivable legal privilege. This is a critical line of inquiry, because we need to know if Mr. Meadows did not properly preserve all of his official e-mails, texts and messages and provide them to the National Archives, as required by law.
After all, our committee has requested and will hopefully soon receive a wide range of Trump administration records from the National Archives. We need to know whether the universe of records in the Archive`s possession is complete and comprehensive.
Understanding Mr. Meadows` compliance with federal record-keeping laws will help ensure that our committee ultimately receives all of the relevant documents we are entitled to review as part of our fact-finding mission.
As a result of his actions and inactions, Mr. Meadows is clearly in contempt of Congress and should be referred to the Department of Justice for criminal prosecution.
I yield back.
THOMPSON: Gentlelady yields back.
Chair recognizes the gentleman from Maryland, Mr. Raskin.
REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Meadows` sudden vanishing act is intolerable to the rule of law and to the work of our committee. Imagine how our justice system would break down if any witness could decide to stop cooperating midway through a proceeding.
The 9,000 pages that Mr. Meadows has produced in disclosed documents without asserting any kind of privilege put him in the thick of the action with Donald Trump as the Capitol was overrun by violent insurrectionists and as Trump and others tried to overthrow Joe Biden`s majority in the Electoral College by exerting coercive pressure on Vice President Pence.
We are getting a comprehensive portrait of what took place on January 6, but Mr. Meadows` testimony is very significant for us.
Mr. Chairman, the committee has bent over backwards to accommodate Mr. Meadows` requests. It`s now clear that he has no intention of complying with the subpoena, even when his testimony could have no theoretical connection to an executive privilege claim.
For example, he`s categorically refusing to show up to testify about 9,000 pages of documents he has already turned over to the committee, and for which he has thus nullified any hypothetical assertions of executive privilege.
He is refusing to testify about statements he has made in his book published last week and in the media about the events of January 6. This is again another category of statements where any conceivable executive privilege claim that could be invoked by President Biden or asserted by former President Trump has already been deliberately abrogated and waived by Mr. Meadows.
This witness must testify, like 300 other witnesses before him have done, either voluntarily and proudly, as a patriotic citizen, or at least under compulsion of subpoena by the Congress of the United States.
But he has no right anywhere in our constitutional system to defy a subpoena from the House of Representatives. And if anyone we have called as a witness knows in his bones that he must testify before our committee, it is Mr. Meadows himself. Repeatedly through his career in Congress, he insisted that even high-ranking executive branch officials must comply with congressional subpoenas for documents, information and testimony.
In the last administration, multiple times, Mr. Meadows found high-ranking officials hiding information from Congress, withholding relevant documents or -- quote -- "even outright ignoring congressional subpoenas."
And he said this at one point: "This level of conduct, paired with the failure to even feign an interest in transparency, is reprehensible. And whether you`re a Republican or a Democrat, this kind of obstruction is wrong period. For nine months, we have warned them consequences were coming. And for nine months, we have heard the same excuses backed up by the same unacceptable conduct. Time is up, and the consequences are here" - - unquote.
A subpoenaed witness cannot force Article 1 congressional power and process simply by filing an Article 3 lawsuit. The Meadows lawsuit against individual members of this committee is extremely dubious, in light of the speech and debate clause and other major constitutional roadblocks.
And its substantive allegations are clearly frivolous, such as his central absurd claim that Congress has no legitimate purpose in investigating and reporting on a violent attack on our Capitol, our presidential election, and the peaceful transfer of power.
If we have no legitimate legislative purpose in investigating a violent insurrection against our own government, well, then we simply have no legitimate legislative purposes at all.
If this investigation is not necessary and proper to everything else we are doing in Congress, then the Constitution has been hollowed out by official lawlessness and a shocking collapse in critical thinking skills.
Meadows` last-minute suit is plainly a tactic to delay and obstruct our investigation. And it need not detain us any longer, Mr. Chairman. We have received overwhelming cooperation and participation from Americans who can help us piece together this shocking sequence of events, and we have a duty to collect all of the evidence we need to report back to Congress and to the American people on a matter of the utmost gravity and importance to the future of American democracy.
I favor this resolution to proceed with criminal contempt.
And I yield back to you, Mr. Chairman.
THOMPSON: Gentleman yields back.
Chair recognizes the gentlewoman from Virginia, Ms. Luria.
REP. ELAINE LURIA (D-VA): Thank you, Mr. Chair, Madam Vice Chair and my fellow committee members.
As many of us have echoed this evening, we do not take this vote lightly. But this committee and this Congress is left with no other alternative when, in the midst of an investigation of this magnitude, we are stonewalled at every turn by those who played a central role in the planning and execution of the January 6 attack.
We have a detailed picture of the attack and the events leading up to it. Our committee has heard from almost 300 people. We have received more than 30,000 pages of documents. And we continue to follow up every day on the more than 250 tips received through our tip line.
Let`s be very clear about Mr. Meadows` role and why his testimony is so important. In the course of our investigation, we have heard from individuals involved in the planning of the rallies that immediately preceded the violent attack on the Capitol. And we know some of those people were in direct contact with Mr. Meadows.
We want to ask him about that. We have heard from former White House staffers, who are helping us understand what was going on in the White House in the time leading up to January 6.
Mr. Meadows was the chief of staff in the White House. So we want to ask him about that. We have heard from officials at the Justice Department who were on the receiving end of instructions to amplify unsupported claims about the outcome of the election.
Mr. Meadows was integral in those efforts. So we want to ask him about that. We have heard from state level officials about the pressure campaigns and the relentless public attacks on democracy in Arizona, Michigan, and Georgia.
Mr. Meadows actually went to Georgia in connection with the recount effort. The committee and the American people must hear from him about that. We are investigating an attempt, as one rioter put it, to overthrow the government. The fate of our republic has never faced a threat as acute and as imminent as we face today and that we are looking into through this investigation.
The extent of this effort reached the highest levels of our government, and it runs right through Mr. Meadows. Anything less than his full cooperation further enables the erosion of our Constitution, our democratic institutions, and the rule of law.
I join my colleagues and urging an aye vote on this resolution.
And I yield back.
THOMPSON: Gentlelady yields back.
If there`s no further debate, I now recognize the gentlewoman from Wyoming, Ms. Cheney, for a motion.
CHENEY: Mr. Chairman, I move that the committee favorably report to the House the committee`s report on a resolution recommending that the House of Representatives find Mark Randall Meadows in contempt of Congress for refusal to comply with a subpoena duly issued by the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6 Attack on the United States Capitol.
THOMPSON: The question is on a motion to favorably report to the House.
Those in favor say aye.
COMMITTEE MEMBERS: Aye.
THOMPSON: Those opposed say no.
In the opinion of the chairs, the ayes have it.
CHENEY: Mr. Chairman, I request a recorded vote.
THOMPSON: A recorded vote is requested.
The clerk will call the roll.
CLERK: Ms. Cheney?
CHENEY: Ms. Cheney, aye.
CLERK: Ms. Lofgren?
CLERK: Ms. Lofgren, aye.
CLERK: Mr. Schiff, aye.
CLERK: Mr. Aguilar, aye.
CLERK: Mrs. Murphy, aye.
CLERK: Mr. Raskin, aye.
CLERK: Mrs. Luria, aye.
KINZINGER: Kinzinger, aye.
CLERK: Mr. Kinzinger, aye.
THOMPSON: How is the chair recorded?
CLERK: Mr. Chairman, you are not recorded.
THOMPSON: I vote aye.
CLERK: Mr. Chairman, aye.
THOMPSON: The clerk will report the vote.
CLERK: Mr. Chairman, on this vote, there are nine ayes and zero no`s.
THOMPSON: The motion is agreed to.
The vice chair is recognized.
CHENEY: Mr. Chairman, pursuant to clause 2L of Rule 11, I request that members have two calendar days in which to file with the clerk of the committee supplemental or additional views on the measure ordered reported by the committee tonight.
THOMPSON: So ordered.
Without objection, staff is authorized to make any necessary technical or conforming changes to the report to reflect the actions of the committee.
There being no further business, without objection, the select committee stands adjourned.
REID: And so concludes the meeting of the January 6 Committee, a 9-0 vote, not unexpected, to submit contempt of Congress charges.
This could mean prosecution for one Mark Meadows, who formerly served in that body.
And a brutal open by Congressman Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, essentially saying that Mark Meadows` legacy as a former member of Congress, somebody who was for a while the ranking member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, his legacy will now solely be that he stood in the way of finding the truth about an attack on our democracy.
Equally brutal, each of the nine members going through and detailing why, why this is happening today, Liz Cheney going through and essentially saying he had already begun to cooperate, he turned over records, and then reading from some of the text messages that were exchanged.
It was -- it was pretty stunning to listen to former colleagues of Mark Meadows really taking him apart and taking apart his legacy as a former member of Congress.
Let`s go to Leigh Ann Caldwell, who is standing outside of where this committee has just disbanded.
Leigh Ann, if you could grab any of them, we would love it.
But give us a sense of what you`re seeing and what you`re hearing.
If you could grab anybody that comes out, we will take it.
But the mood on...
LEIGH ANN CALDWELL, NBC NEWS CAPITOL HILL CORRESPONDENT: Yes.
REID: I`m sure the mood on Capitol Hill today is somewhat somber. This is a former member that`s being issued a contempt of Congress citation.
CALDWELL: Yes, that`s right, Joy. And if you see someone walking behind me, since I don`t have eyes in the back of my head, just feel free to reach -- or tell me, and I will turn around and grab them.
REID: I will.
CALDWELL: Try to grab them, anyway.
But this is a really monumental moment up here on Capitol Hill. Of course, this is the first member of Congress who -- or former member of Congress who the Congress is referring for criminal contempt in recent memory, at least, or recent history, I should say.
But the committee members really laid out their case there. And there was a lot of speculation at the beginning of this -- the formation of this January 6 Select Committee of, could there be any sort of new information?
I`m sorry. Hold on. Here`s Zoe Lofgren.
Congresswoman, can we ask a couple questions?
Some of the lawmakers -- some of the lawmakers were -- can you name who some of the lawmakers were mentioned?
OK. So we`re going to keep trying here.
But the committee said that everything runs through Mark Meadows, that they are central to this investigation.
And getting back to my previous point, there was skepticism that this committee would be able to find out something new. They are just in the beginning of their fact-finding phase. And according to this report, they have received a lot of new information, including text messages to Mark Meadows from FOX News anchors telling him to tell the former president to call off what is happening on January 6 -- Joy.
Leigh Ann Caldwell, thank you very much. And just holler if you get any of those members. We will come right back to you. So we will go away for now, but, if you get any members, we will come back to you.
REID: Thank you very much. Appreciate it.
Let me bring back my panel. Joyce Vance, Maya Wiley, Claire McCaskill.
Joyce, you were in the middle of your answer when we cut to the live panel.
But I`m holding these text messages. And I think those were key. This man has already given up information about fellow lawmakers that he was interacting with, about FOX News personalities. We Sean Hannity named. We heard Laura Ingraham named. He`s already told.
Can you walk back after you have already started to talk?
VANCE: That`s absolutely right, Joy.
He can`t walk back the documents and materials he turned over without claiming privilege in them. So, the most important thing that we saw tonight was the committee`s effort to categorize Meadows, along with Steve Bannon, as someone who was in flagrant violation of the subpoena, not an effort to comply that failed for whatever reason, but someone who simply spit in the face of Congress.
That`s important because DOJ will now face an important decision about whether to prosecute Meadows. Certainly, the clarity of the committee`s presentation makes it a lot easier, although I`m sure it won`t be an easy decision at DOJ, for them, to find him in contempt and to engage in a prosecution.
REID: Maya, one of the things that really struck me was the fact that they go through sort of systematically how he begins to turn over information, he turns over documents. They`re in possession of text messages and other materials from him.
And then, on the very day his book is published, he reverses course and stops cooperating. One gets the sense that probably Donald Trump was angry about what was in his book, and he suddenly decides, I`m no longer going to cooperate.
But here`s the problem. He`s already told a good half of the story. They want to ask him about things he gave them. You can`t say, well, you can`t ask me about things I have put in my book and that I have already told you about.
MAYA WILEY, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: I thought that was a stunning performance by the committee, because it was sober, it was systematic and, to your point, Joy, it really hit the most critical facts to demonstrate that Mark Meadows is not -- he is not only refusing to engage. He`s refusing to engage with no grounds, and primarily to protect the president.
His book, he`s talking about the same things he turned over documents for, is refusing to answer questions about them. And I thought that Jamie Raskin, Representative Raskin, did summarize the problem with this so concisely when he said, if Congress does not have a legitimate legislative purpose here, when do we?
Because that is at stake with the fox and hare game that we heard from Rep. Murphy. And I just thought it was just the right pinpoint to say, if it is such a legitimate claim of executive privilege, why did he stop cooperating as soon as his book became public on the very things he`s talking about in his book?
It was really well done.
Claire, I have to come to you on this, because the other thing, of course, Leigh Ann Caldwell, you saw her try to get that information from Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren. She was not successful. But that is the question.
We have now some of these text messages that were read into the record by Adam Schiff and other members: "On January 6, 2021, Vice President Mike Pence, as president of the Senate should call out all electoral votes that he believes are unconstitutional as no electoral votes at all."
Another lawmaker to Meadows: "Yesterday was a terrible day. We tried everything we could in our objection to the six states. I`m sorry nothing works."
Another lawmaker to Meadows: "The president needs to stop this ASAP."
I think the big question now is, who are these lawmakers? Who was he talking to? Do you think that that is information that`s ultimately going to be disclosed? Because Congressman Schiff said, we`re not disclosing those names for now.
CLAIRE MCCASKILL, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Oh, I think it will all come out.
I think they`re being very systematic about this. I`m impressed at the discipline of this committee. They`re not leaking. The presentations tonight were concise. They were not duplicative. They are going to have these hearings, and they`re going to lay it all out.
And the chairman said tonight, we`re going to wait until we get everything, and then we will have public hearings, and the people will see what we are finding out.
You know what impressed me the most tonight, though, Joy, was Liz Cheney`s focus on Trump`s inaction. And that`s when these texts from lawmakers will be so important, because they because they were urgent. They were frightened.
There was an armed standoff at the doors of the United States House of Representatives. And Trump liked it.
And what she was trying to say -- I think she said it was 187 minutes. Those 187 minutes, think what happened during that time period. And he did nothing, even though his son, his chief of staff, his supporters in Congress were going, stop this. He was so desperate to hold onto power and overthrow a free and fair election than he was willing to let violence ensue in our nation`s Capitol.
And that`s who Liz Cheney has her sights on, is Donald j. Trump.
REID: You know, and, Claire, just as somebody who served in the United States Senate, can you just talk to us a little bit just about -- I mean, it is since 1832, as Congressman Kinzinger pointed out, that a member of this body, a member of the House of Representatives, was sanctioned for contempt.
Sam Houston, thanks to the great producers here at THE REIDOUT, was the person who was sanctioned for assaulting a fellow member. Can you talk about that? These are his colleagues. This was a brutal takedown of not just Mark Meadows, but his entire legacy.
The chairman of this committee, Bennie Thompson, said: This is your legacy now. Your legacy is that you have essentially spat in the face of the body that you formerly served in when it was attacked.
MCCASKILL: He had to make a decision.
Mark Meadows had to make a decision: Do I try to protect Donald Trump and the legions of people that he is convinced of this big lie, or do I stand for the institution that I was part of? Do I stand for the character and integrity that I tried to tell all my constituents I had?
It`s pretty clear he decided to abandon character, integrity, and go for protecting the guy who was just fine with the violence in the Capitol.
REID: Let`s really quickly go to -- back to Leigh Ann Caldwell.
I think everyone wholeheartedly agrees with what you`re saying, Claire McCaskill.
Let`s go to Leigh Ann, as she has Chairman Thompson.
QUESTION: Have you spoken directly to Mr. Meadows at all? I know you said you`re communicating with counsel.
But since he did serve in this body, have you spoken with him directly?
THOMPSON: No, I have not. No, I have not.
We have only communicated with Mr. Meadows through his attorney.
QUESTION: That was just a small sampling of the text messages that were read today.
What else can you tell us about Mark Meadows` role on that day and leading up to that day?
THOMPSON: The information we have received has been quite revealing about members of Congress involved in the activities of January 6, as well as staff.
QUESTION: Are you going to subpoena some -- are you going to subpoena some of these members of Congress?
QUESTION: Chairman Thompson, the contempt process doesn`t ensure that you get more information from Mr. Meadows.
How are you going to ensure that?
REID: All right, well, that was Chairman Bennie Thompson getting into the elevator after saying that that information is going to come out, Claire.
Eventually, we`re going to find out who these lawmakers were. And we know that some were actively rooting for the insurrection, including after it -- the danger had passed, voting to try to overturn elections in several states.
This is a scandal that is multipart. And it`s eventually -- I don`t know if you agree with this, but I feel like this is going to whip through the House and the United States Senate as names are revealed.
MCCASKILL: I think it will.
But, honestly, Joy, is it a shock? I mean, these guys are all hiding under their desks. They`re all afraid of Donald Trump in a primary. I mean, in my state, the Republican candidates for an open Senate seat next year are doing everything but lining up at Mar-a-Lago to shine his shoes for his endorsement.
So, it is not shocking to me that, as Hillary Clinton said in her interview over the weekend, a lot of these Republican senators have hung their spines on the wall. And they have -- or they`re not showing the courage that, frankly, I thought many of them had to stand up to Donald Trump and what he did.
But I think none of us are going to be surprised when we hear these names. I think we know who they all are.
REID: Yes, I don`t think any of us will be surprised.
Maya, very quickly, this -- this is the PowerPoint. I don`t know if anybody can see this on here, with the sort of white balance that it`s doing as it`s showing.
The things that Donald Trump seemed to believe seem like madness, but one can see that, if this is what you truly believe happened, all of this complicated theory of how the election was supposedly stolen, my God, no wonder people felt inspired to get violent.
I mean, Donald Trump is -- I don`t know if he`s convinced of this or was just convincing others. Your thoughts.
WILEY: You know, I -- look, Donald Trump had been told, including by his Attorney General Bill Barr in early December, there was no substantial evidence of this fraud.
REID: That`s right.
WILEY: And one of the things that did come up about Mark Meadows is, Mark Meadows was actively and aggressively spreading the conspiracy theories on Italygate.
So, there`s no question that...
WILEY: It was...
REID: From inside the White House. He was a firsthand witness inside the White House.
Joyce Vance, Maya Wiley, Claire McCaskill, thank you all very much.
That is tonight`s REIDOUT. "ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts now.