Washington DC, Dec 14 (EFE).- The United States’ lower house voted Tuesday in favor of declaring in contempt ex-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows after he stopped cooperating with the chamber’s committee investigating the assault on the Capitol building.
The House, which has a Democratic majority, voted 222-208 on the resolution to seek contempt of Congress charges against Meadows, who was the chief of staff to former President Donald Trump at the time of the Capitol riot.
The vote sends the matter to the Justice Department, which must decide whether to convene a grand jury to formally charge him with criminal contempt.
Contempt of Congress is punishable by a maximum sentence of one year in jail and a fine of up to $100,000, according to the congressional investigative service.
On Monday night, the committee investigating the assault on the Capitol voted to recommend contempt charges against Meadows and revealed that Trump’s eldest son, Don Jr., and hosts on the conservative Fox network were appalled by the attack on the seat of the legislative branch.
Both Don Jr. and the three Fox presenters sent text messages to Meadows urging him to persuade Trump to take the attack seriously and ask his supporters to leave the Capitol.
“We need an Oval Office address. He has to leave now. It has gone too far and gotten out of hand,” Don Jr. said in a message to Meadows.
The text messages, read by Republican Representative Liz Cheney during the committee hearing, are part of a package of 9,000 documents that Meadows provided to the committee before changing his mind and halting his cooperation.
Meadows decided to stop cooperating on the grounds that his work in the White House should remain secret because Trump had invoked “executive privilege,” which allows the US president to keep certain information confidential.
Far-right former Trump strategist Steve Bannon also tried to use the same argument and was found in contempt by the House.
On Nov. 21, Bannon was indicted for contempt of Congress on two counts of refusing to appear for a deposition and refusing to produce documents by a federal grand jury.
The committee investigating the Capitol assault was created by House Speaker and Democrat Nancy Pelosi, and has a Democratic majority, with the exception of two Republicans – Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger – who are at odds with Trump.
Its mission is to investigate why the riot occurred, who was responsible and what can be done to prevent another similar event. It has requested access to hitherto secret documents and has subpoenaed Trump’s closest allies, including Meadows, to testify.
On Jan. 6, some 10,000 people – most of them Trump supporters – marched to the Capitol and about 800 broke into the building to prevent the November 2020 election victory of now-president Joe Biden from being ratified. Five people died and about 140 law-enforcement officers were injured. EFE