President Joe Biden on Wednesday suggested Mark Meadows was “worthy” of being in held in contempt of Congress after the Democratic-controlled House referred the ex-White House chief of staff to the Department of Justice for failing to appear for a deposition with the committee investigating the January 6 attack on the US Capitol.
The House formally referred Meadows, former President Donald Trump’s final White House chief of staff, to the Department of Justice for criminal contempt of Congress in a 222-208 vote late Tuesday night. Two Republicans who sit on the select committee, Reps. Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, voted with all Democrats in favor of the referral.
“I don’t know enough — just what I’ve seen, I have not spoken to anyone. It seems to me he’s worthy of being held in contempt,” he said.
The comment from Biden is notable given that the decision about whether to charge Meadows with criminal contempt of Congress is now in front of Attorney General Merrick Garland and the Department of Justice. Biden has repeatedly pledged to keep his Justice Department free from political influence after Trump spent years commenting on federal criminal cases and investigations, often being accused of using his platform to influence proceedings.
On Monday, the House select committee unanimously voted in favor of holding Meadows in contempt of Congress and now it is up to the Justice Department to decide if it will pursue criminal charges against him. The vote was significant given Meadows’ role as Trump’s chief of staff and his intimate knowledge of efforts to overturn the 2020 election.
Meadows is the second Trump associate to face 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. Meadows has consistently insisted he wants to shield some of his conversations with the former President under claims of executive privilege but has already handed over thousands of documents which the panel says only adds to the need for him to testify.
Among those documents have been stunning text messages that include messages from a Georgia government official sent to Meadows while Trump was on the phone with Georgia’s secretary of state urging him to “find” votes for Trump, as well as discussions of Trump’s efforts to overturn his 2020 election loss to Biden. The committee also released a text Meadows sent to a member of Congress detailing Trump’s views about Vice President Mike Pence and state legislatures trying to overturn the election result.
When asked for a reaction to text messages sent to Meadows, Biden said Wednesday, “I haven’t seen them all.”
This story has been updated with more reporting.
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