Unlike previous business meetings to discuss resolutions of criminal contempt, each member of the panel was given the opportunity to speak Monday, a change that reflects the gravity of recommending a former White House chief of staff and one-time House lawmaker face criminal charges for defying the body he was once a part.
Members of the panel will vote to formally advance the criminal contempt report against Meadows for a full floor House vote, which could take place as soon as later this week. The vote by the full House is the last step before sending the referral to the Justice Department.
In his opening remarks during Monday’s meeting, the committee’s chairman, Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, took the opportunity to highlight the committee’s progress and paint Meadows, as well as a handful of other Trump allies who continue to defy the panel, as outliers.
“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,” Thompson said. “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.”
The committee informed Meadows last week that it had “no choice” but to advance criminal contempt proceedings against him given that he had decided to no longer cooperate with its investigation.
On Sunday, the committee released its contempt report, which contained several new details about Meadows’ actions before and during January 6, as well as his role in attempting to overturn the 2020 election.
The committee notes that in one email Meadows sent to an individual about January 6, he said that “the National Guard would be present to ‘protect pro Trump people’ and that many more would be available on standby.”
Additionally, the committee said in the report that Meadows “exchanged text messages with, and provided guidance to, an organizer of the January 6th rally on the Ellipse after the organizer told him that ‘[t]hings have gotten crazy and I desperately need some direction.'”
The new documents come as Meadows’ role is under renewed scrutiny following his decision to cease cooperating with the committee last week.
The committee has previously sought communications between Meadows and certain rally organizers as the panel remains focused on identifying any level of coordination with the Trump White House. The report goes on to note that Meadows was directly involved in efforts to overturn the election results in key swing states Trump lost and helped push unfounded claims about voter fraud.
Meadows’ lawyer asked the panel Monday to reconsider its plans. In a letter to the committee, Meadows’ attorney George Terwilliger III said the “contemplated referral would be contrary to law” because his client is a senior official who made a “good-faith invocation of executive privilege and testimonial immunity.”
“A referral of a senior presidential aide would also be unwise because it would do great damage to the institution of the Presidency, as restraint in the application of the statute over time attests,” Terwilliger wrote.
Terwilliger said that Meadows’ choice to decline a deposition is an attempt to comply with his “legal obligations” as a former Trump adviser. “History and the law teach that this attempt is not a crime,” Terwilliger wrote.
Terwilliger also suggested the committee should allow the civil lawsuit Meadows filed against the panel to play out before moving to contempt — because a ruling in that case would resolve the questions surrounding privilege that are in dispute.
This story has been updated with additional developments Monday.