Jan. 6 Committee Reveals Texts From Mark Meadows, Votes to Move Forward With Charges

The House's Jan. 6 committee tasked with investigating the events surrounding the Capitol insurrection voted 9-0 on Monday to recommend contempt charges to the House against former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, who was former President Donald Trump's top aide and was with him during the attack.

Meadows ended his cooperation with the panel last week, declining to attend a deposition where the committee said he would have been asked questions about his interactions with Trump on the day of the attack. He also would be asked about thousands of emails and texts with members of Congress and state government officials.

The charges will be sent to the full House of Representatives for a vote, which could come as soon as this week. Next would be a recommendation to the Justice Department, which would then decide whether to prosecute Meadows.

Wyoming Republican Rep. Liz Cheney, the committee's vice-chair, described several text messages sent to Meadows as the events of Jan. 6 were unfolding. The texts came from public figures like Fox News hosts Laura Ingraham and Brian Kilmeade, as well as the president's son, Donald Trump Jr.

The texts to Meadows revealed Monday showed Trump's allies pleading with his chief of staff to get Trump on television or to tweet something condemning the violence from his supporters at the Capitol, images that were being shown on live TV across the country.

"He's got to condemn this ... Asap," Trump Jr. wrote. "The Capitol Police tweet is not enough."

"I'm pushing it hard. I agree," Meadows responded.

"Hey Mark, the president needs to tell people in the Capitol to go home ... this is hurting all of us ... he is destroying his legacy," Ingraham texted Meadows.

"Please get him on tv. Destroying everything you have accomplished," Kilmeade wrote.

Mark Meadows, Donald Trump, January 6 Committee
White House chief of staff Mark Meadows speaks with reporters outside the White House, Oct. 26, 2020, in Washington. The House panel investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection says it has “no choice” but to move forward with contempt charges against former Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows. Patrick Semansky/Associated Press File

"Whatever legacy he thought he left in the House, this is his legacy now," committee Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., said of Meadows — a former Republican congressman from North Carolina — in his opening remarks. "His former colleagues singling him out for criminal prosecution because he wouldn't answer questions about what he knows about a brutal attack on our democracy. That's his legacy."

Lawmakers had planned to ask about Trump's efforts to overturn the election in the weeks before the insurrection, including Meadows' outreach to states and his communications with members of Congress.

Trump's former top White House aide "is uniquely situated to provide key information, having straddled an official role in the White House and unofficial role related to Mr. Trump's reelection campaign," the panel said in a 51-page report released Sunday evening.

The report detailed the questions lawmakers have about the thousands of emails and texts Meadows had provided to the committee before he ended his cooperation — including 6,600 pages of records taken from personal email accounts and about 2,000 text messages.

The panel has not released all the documents, but the report says they include exchanges about Meadows efforts' to help Trump overturn his defeat in the presidential election, communications with members of Congress and organizers of a rally held the morning of the insurrection and the frantic messages among aides and others as the violent attack unfolded that day.

As part of its list of questions for Meadows, the panel says it wants to know more about whether Trump was engaged in discussions regarding the response of the National Guard, which was delayed for hours as the violence escalated and the rioters beat police guarding the Capitol building.

The documents provided by Meadows include an email he sent to an unidentified person saying that the Guard would be present to "protect pro Trump people," the panel said, and that more would be available on standby. The committee did not release any additional details about the email.

The contempt vote is coming after more than two months of negotiations with Meadows and his lawyer and as the panel has also struggled to obtain information from some of Trump's other top aides, such as his longtime ally Steve Bannon. The House voted to recommend charges against Bannon in October, and the Justice Department indicted him on two counts of contempt last month.

In a Monday letter to Thompson, Meadows' attorney George Terwilliger said the contempt vote would be "unjust" because Meadows was one of Trump's top aides and all presidents should be afforded executive privilege to shield their private conversations. Meadows himself sued the panel, asking a court to invalidate two subpoenas that he says are "overly broad and unduly burdensome."

Terwilliger noted that the contempt statute has been used infrequently over time and argued that a contempt referral of a senior presidential aide "would do great damage to the institution of the Presidency."

In a transcript of the deposition that Meadows skipped, released as part of Sunday's report, an unnamed member of the panel's investigative staff detailed several of the questions he would have been asked had he shown up.

Committee staff said they would have interviewed Meadows about emails "to leadership at the Department of Justice on December 29th and 30th, 2020, and January 1st, 2021, encouraging investigations of suspected voter fraud," even though election officials and courts across the country had rejected those claims.

The panel said Meadows also provided text messages sent to and from members of Congress "before, during, and after the attack on the United States Capitol." One exchange with a lawmaker concerned efforts to contact legislators in states, too, about the election because Trump "wants to chat with them."

In a text exchange with an unidentified senator, the committee said, Meadows said Trump believed Vice President Mike Pence had power to reject electors in his role presiding over the Jan. 6 certification. Pence did not have that power under the law, as the vice president's function is largely ceremonial.

A Nov. 6, 2020, text exchange between Meadows and an unidentified member of Congress, the committee said, was about appointing alternate electors in certain states, a plan the member said would be "highly controversial." The committee said that Meadows replied, "I love it.'"

In other texts, sent the day of the attack, Meadows' former colleagues encouraged him to urge Trump to discourage the violence, the committee said. Similarly, in an exchange with an organizer of the rally that morning — a gathering in which Trump told his supporters to "fight like hell" — the organizer told Meadows that they "desperately" needed direction from him because things "have gotten crazy."

Thompson and Cheney said last week that Meadows' lawsuit "won't succeed at slowing down the Select Committee's investigation or stopping us from getting the information we're seeking."

The panel has already interviewed almost 300 witnesses, and lawmakers say they plan a series of hearings early next year to make many of their findings public.

Update (12/13, 8:54 PM): This story was updated with more details from the Jan. 6 Committee's meeting on Monday night.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Mark Meadows, Donald Trump, January 6 Committee
House Jan. 6 Select Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., center, flanked by Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., left, and Vice Chair Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., meet Dec. 1, 2021, at the Capitol in Washington. The House panel says it has “no choice” but to move forward with contempt charges against former Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows. J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press File

Editor's Picks

Newsweek cover
  • Newsweek magazine delivered to your door
  • Unlimited access to Newsweek.com
  • Ad free Newsweek.com experience
  • iOS and Android app access
  • All newsletters + podcasts
Newsweek cover
  • Unlimited access to Newsweek.com
  • Ad free Newsweek.com experience
  • iOS and Android app access
  • All newsletters + podcasts