The House select committee investigating the January 6 attack on the US Capitol had yet to come to a consensus as of Monday night on dealing with former Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows’ lack of compliance.
Multiple members of the committee tell CNN that while they are ready and willing to use whatever tools they have at their disposal to convince him to comply, including a criminal contempt of Congress, they have yet to decide if that will be the path they take and it could take some time for them to come to a decision.
“Well, we haven’t gotten there yet. We haven’t stated that yet. But we are, you know, adamant that everybody comply with the law, and we want everyone’s testimony,” said Rep. Jamie Raskin, a Maryland Democrat who serves on the panel.
The committee is scheduled to meet Tuesday morning, where this topic is expected to be discussed, a source familiar told CNN. While the members could push to expedite the process, it is likely a decision won’t happen until after the Thanksgiving holiday.
On Friday, select committee Chair Bennie Thompson, a Mississippi Democrat, and Vice Chair Liz Cheney, a Wyoming Republican, issued a statement warning Meadows that his lack of compliance would force them to take action — which could include a contempt referral.
“Mr. Meadows’s actions today — choosing to defy the law — will force the Select Committee to consider pursuing contempt or other proceedings to enforce the subpoena,” the statement read.
But while the committee continues to make that threat, there are issues that need to be settled that are unique to Meadows’ situation and could be more complicated than referring a contempt charge against Steve Bannon. The former adviser to former President Donald Trump appeared in federal court for the first time Monday after having been indicted by a grand jury and is scheduled to be arraigned on two misdemeanor charges on Thursday.
Unlike Bannon, Meadows was an employee of the executive branch on January 6, making his claims around executive privilege more substantial. The committee says it views each witness and their cooperation independently.
“Every person is treated as an end unto him or herself. So Steve Bannon should be treated according to Steve Bannon’s conduct,” said Raskin.
But while the committee is viewing each case separately, it hopes other subpoena targets take note of Bannon’s legal predicament.
“Clearly, we’ve set the precedent for noncompliance,” said Rep. Pete Aguilar of California, a Democratic member of the committee.
The other issue is the calendar.
Members are scheduled to be in town only until Friday before they return to their districts in the lead-up to Thanksgiving. That is likely not enough time for the committee to take all of the steps necessary to passing a criminal referral of Meadows out of the House.
If the panel were to decide to pursue a criminal contempt referral for Meadows, it would first need to write a report detailing all of its communications with him and laying out an argument for why it believes he should be held in criminal contempt, which in this case would be extensive. Next, the committee would have to hold a business meeting to pass the report, and then schedule a floor vote for the full House on the report.
On top of that, the committee’s work comes as House Democratic leaders are trying to bring their caucus together to pass a key portion of President Joe Biden’s domestic agenda, the Build Back Better Act, which has faced numerous holdups in the previous weeks.
As the committee weighs how to handle Meadows, it also has yet to act on former Department of Justice official Jeffrey Clark, who the committee granted a “very short time to reconsider and cooperate fully” after Clark did not cooperate when he came in for questioning earlier this month.
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