The House is set to vote soon on whether former Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows should be referred to the Department of Justice on criminal charges for failing to appear for a deposition with the select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack.
Meadows is the latest official to face the possibility of such a referral from the panel. The committee approved a criminal contempt report against Trump ally Steve Bannon in October after he refused to comply with a subpoena deadline.
Here are key things to know as we await a vote:
What the committee did Monday: The panel unanimously voted in favor of holding Meadows in contempt of Congress, and it is now up to the full House to vote on whether it will ask the Justice Department to pursue criminal charges against ex-President Donald Trump’s former chief of staff.
What criminal contempt means: It is one of the three options the congressional panel can pursue to enforce its subpoenas, along with civil and inherent contempt. Once a criminal contempt referral clears the House select committee, it heads to the full House for a vote. If that vote succeeds, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi certifies the report to the United States attorney for the District of Columbia.
Under law, this certification then requires the United States attorney to “bring the matter before the grand jury for its action,” but the Justice Department will also makes its own determinations for prosecuting.
Any individual who is found liable for contempt of Congress is then guilty of a crime that may result in a fine and between one and 12 months imprisonment. But this process is rarely invoked and rarely leads to jail time.
What both sides are saying: Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson, a Democrat from Mississippi, said on Tuesday that 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.” Thompson noted that the select committee’s report “referring Mr. Meadows for criminal contempt charges is clear and compelling.”
Meadows’ attorney issued a new statement Tuesday ahead of the full House vote saying that his client is still cooperating with the committee in some ways, but maintained he cannot be compelled to appear for questioning as he is not “licensed to waive Executive Privilege” claimed by Trump.
Meadows “has fully cooperated as to documents in his possession that are not privileged and has sought various means to provide other information while continuing to honor the former president’s privilege claims,” his attorney George J. Terwilliger III said in a statement.
Republican Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the vice chair of the select committee, said Tuesday that Meadows had received numerous text messages urging Trump to take action to stop the riot that he has produced without any privilege claim.
Read more about tonight’s House vote here.
CNN’s Paul LeBlanc contributed reporting to this post.