Mark Meadows Faces Criminal Contempt Charges as Noose Tightens on Trump Allies

The House select committee probing the January 6 Capitol riot will "move quickly" to refer former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows for criminal contempt, after he defied a subpoena by failing to appear before the committee, Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff said Sunday.

"When ultimately witnesses decide as Meadows has, that they're not even going to bother showing up that they have that much contempt for the law, then it pretty much forces our hand and we'll move quickly," Schiff, who serves on the committee, said during an appearance on NBC's Meet the Press.

He was referring to Meadows' refusal to appear before the committee on Friday morning.

"I'm confident we'll move very quickly with respect to Mr. Meadows also, but we want to make sure that we have the strongest possible case to present to the Justice Department and for the Justice Department to present to a grand jury," the California Democrat added.

His remarks came days after Steve Bannon, a former Trump advisor, was indicted on two counts of criminal contempt of Congress after he similarly refused to appear before the committee last month for a deposition, failing to hand over documents as outlined in a subpoena.

The Justice Department will decide whether to pursue legal action against Bannon.

Earlier, in a letter to Meadows' attorney George Terwilliger on Thursday, committee chairman Bennie Thompson said that "there is no valid legal basis for Mr. Meadows's continued resistance to the Select Committee's subpoena" without executive privilege or immunity.

It came after Terwilliger said in a statement that his client was ordered by former President Donald Trump to "respect long-standing principles of executive privilege" and was "immune" from congressional testimony.

Aside from Bannon and Meadows, the panel in September also issued a round of subpoenas to former White House Deputy Chief of Staff for Communications Daniel Scavino and former Defense Department official Kashyap Patel.

In a statement at the time, Thompson cited their close ties to Trump and said all four were working in or had communications with the White House, either on or in the days leading up to the January 6 Capitol riot.

The House committee has so far issued almost three dozen subpoenas.

The committee's letter to Meadows in September specifically alleged that during his time as Trump's aide, he "directly communicated with the highest officials at the Department of Justice requesting investigation into election fraud matters in several states."

"It has been reported that you were engaged in multiple elements of the planning and preparation efforts to contest the presidential election and delay the counting of electoral votes," the panel wrote.

In a joint statement Thompson and panel's vice chairwoman, Republican Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, said: "Mr. Meadows, Mr. Bannon, and others who go down this path won't prevail in stopping the Select Committee's effort getting answers for the American people about January 6th, making legislative recommendations to help protect our democracy, and helping ensure nothing like that day ever happens again."

Mark Meadows speaks to reporters in Washington
Former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows talks to reporters at the White House on October 21, 2020 in Washington, DC. He faces criminal contempt charges for failing to appear before the January 6 House select committee on Friday morning. Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images