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House votes to return Mark Meadows to Justice Department for contempt of Congress

The vote was 222-208. Two Republicans who sit on the select committee, Representatives Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, voted with Democrats in favor of the removal.

On Monday, the House select committee voted unanimously to hold Meadows in contempt of Congress and it is now up to the Department of Justice to decide whether to pursue criminal charges against the former chief of staff of former President Donald Trump.

The vote, despite being passed by a Democratic majority, marks an important moment in the Jan. 6 inquiry given Meadows’ role as Trump’s chief of staff and his intimate knowledge of efforts to overturn the election. of 2020. Meadows is the second official to face such a referral from the panel. The committee approved a report of criminal contempt against Trump ally Steve Bannon in October after refusing to comply with a subpoena deadline.

Meadows has always insisted he wanted to protect some of his conversations with the former president under the guise of executive privileges, but has already handed over thousands of documents which the panel says only add to the need. for him to testify.

But so far Meadows has refused to do so and his challenge is at the heart of Tuesday’s vote to fire him on criminal charges.

“The select committee report firing Mr. Meadows on criminal contempt charges is clear and compelling,” committee chairman Bennie Thompson, a Democrat from Mississippi, said on Tuesday. “As White House chief of staff, Mr. Meadows played a role in or witnessed key events leading up to and including the January 6 assault on the United States Capitol.”

Meadows’ attorney released a new statement Tuesday ahead of the General Assembly vote saying his client is still cooperating with the committee in some way, but maintained he could not be compelled to appear for questioning because he was not “authorized to waive executive privilege” asserted by Trump.

Meadows “has fully cooperated with the documents in his possession which are not privileged and has sought various means of providing other information while continuing to honor the former president’s claims of privilege,” said his attorney George J Terwilliger III in a press release.

Republican Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming, vice chair of the select committee, said Tuesday that Meadows had received numerous texts urging Trump to take action to end the riot he produced without any claim of privilege.

Later Tuesday, Thompson told CNN the committee would “make a decision in about a week when to release” the names of the writers of the texts to Meadows on January 6 after members referred to several messages exchanged between the former chief. White House cabinet ministers and lawmakers as the riot unfolded.

Thompson said committee members felt it was “important” to post the content before posting the names.

“Then we’ll do our own review in the committee to see if and when we release them,” Thompson said. ” We will do it. I can’t tell you exactly when it will be. “

When asked if there were any Senators texting Meadows on January 6, Thompson revealed, “At this point, it’s just members of the House.”

He also said the panel would likely brief GOP members before taking any action.

House votes to return Mark Meadows to Justice Department for contempt of Congress
The committee was prepared to go ahead with the contempt of former Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark, but is giving him another chance to testify as he says he plans to plead the fifth.

Meanwhile, the select committee is continuing its investigation, questioning more witnesses on Tuesday, including the former national security adviser to former Vice President Mike Pence, Keith Kellogg.

Last month, Kellogg became the first person in Pence’s inner circle to be subpoenaed by the committee. In its letter to Kellogg, the committee specifically expressed interest in hearing more about a January 2021 meeting with Trump and White House attorney Pat Cipollone, in which Trump insisted that Pence not certify the election and any other meeting.

The committee also said in its letter that Kellogg was in the White House on January 6 as the attack unfolded and had “firsthand information” regarding Trump’s “statements and reactions to the insurgency. of the Capitol “.

Kellogg is considered a key witness due to his closeness to Trump on January 6. The former national security adviser to the former president, Robert O’Brien, was out of town that day.

Kellogg’s attorney told CNN on Tuesday that his client was testifying and cooperating with investigators. The attorney also said Kellogg did not claim executive privilege over any testimony or documents.

While a committee aide declined to comment on what was asked or answered during the deposition, he did not refute the claim that Kellogg is cooperating with the panel.

The panel also spoke with Dustin Stockton, one of the organizers of the pro-Trump rallies that took place on January 5 and 6.

Prior to meeting with the committee, Stockton’s attorney Josh Nass told reporters his client was texting and emailing people “very high in the former president’s orbit,” as well as ‘with members of Congress, which he would hand over to the committee. Tuesday.

These lawmakers and people close to Trump “have good reason to shake in their boots today,” Nass said.

“We are talking about all kinds of … correspondence by e-mail, text,” he said.

This story was updated with additional developments on Tuesday.

CNN’s Ryan Nobles, Kristin Wilson, Holmes Lybrand and Manu Raju contributed to this report.

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