Return to Transcripts main page
Erin Burnett Outfront
Awaiting Vote On Holding Former Trump Chief Of Staff In Contempt; Now: Jan 6 CMTE Meeting On Mark Meadows Criminal Contempt Charges; Could Become Third Trump Ally To Face Such Charges; Jan 6 Committee Lays Out Contempt Case Against Mark Meadows; January 6 Committee Unanimously Votes To Hold Mark Meadows In Contempt. Aired 7- 8p ET
Aired December 13, 2021 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: I suspect they talked about it privately, didn't make mention that in their public statement. Sam Kiley, on the scene for us. Thank you very much.
And to our viewers, thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Erin Burnett OUTFRONT starts right now.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Good evening, I'm Erin Burnett.
OUTFRONT tonight the breaking news, we are standing by for a crucial vote. Any minute from now members of the January 6 Select Committee are expected to recommend that the full House find Donald Trump's former Chief of Staff Mark Meadows in contempt of Congress for defying a subpoena.
Now, we're going to bring you that vote live. It is expected to start, as I said, any minute from now. We are learning that we could hear from other members of the Select Committee. Now, the other contempt votes that you may have seen watching this show you didn't see that, it was just the Chairman and the Vice Chair, Chairman Thompson and Vice Chairman Cheney.
Tonight, we are hearing from an aide to Chairman Bennie Thompson that he will recognize any member of the Committee who wishes to speak on the resolution. You can see them all walking out right now to take their seats. So just to let everyone know here, as they do so, Mark Meadows is at the heart of the investigation deeply involved in former President Trump's efforts to overturn the election, literally by Trump's side during the insurrection.
And the total stonewalling that Meadows is now putting in front of the Committee is an about face. What they're going to talk about tonight is presumably the things we haven't even seen in this document they put out. But they put out this document today, 55 pages, going through his contempt and some of what he's provided to them. He did provide nearly 6,000 pages of documents to the Committee before he decided that he wasn't going to talk about them or provide anything more.
And those documents include a message on January 5th claiming the National Guard would be present to 'protect pro-Trump people'. In just moments we do expect to learn more live about what's in these documents and we could be hearing that from some of these other committee members. So as they're all seated, I don't know if the Chair - he just gaveled in so let's start listening.
REP. BENNIE THOMPSON (D-MS): ... attack on United States Capitol will be in order.
The Select Committee's meeting this evening to consider a report on the resolution recommending the House of Representative find Mark Randall Meadows in contempt of Congress for refusal to comply with a subpoena duly issued by the Select Committee to investigate the January 6th attack on the United States Capitol.
Without objection, the Chair is authorized to declare the Committee in recess at any time. I'll now recognize myself for an opening statement.
Before I start, my statement, let me, on behalf of the Committee, add our condolences and prayers to the people of Kentucky and surrounding states on the devastation they've received during the tornadoes. Our hearts and prayers go out to all those impacted.
This week, I expect that roughly a dozen key witnesses will provide testimony on the record in our investigation. We'll hear from many more informally as we continue to gather facts about the violence of January 6th and its causes.
That should put us well north of the 300 mark in terms of witnesses who have given us information. Add to that more than 30,000 records and nearly 250 sustaining tips on our tip line and anyone listening at home tonight. If you have any information you want to share with us, you can find our tip line on the Select Committee's website, january6th.house.gov.
The Court of Appeals here in Washington has ruled quickly in our favor regarding the Select Committee's work to uncover relevant information on - and day-to-day, we are getting a clearer picture of what happened, who was involved and who paid for it, and where the money went.
So I'm pleased to report we're making swift progress and before too long, our findings will be out in the open. We'll have public hearings, we'll tell this story to the American people, but we won't do it piecemeal. We'll do it when it - we can tell the story all at once from start to finish, not leaving anyone guessing and not allowing it to fade into the memories of last week's news.
The story is too important. The stakes are too high. We have to do this job right. And that means we have to address the handful of outliers soberly and appropriately. That's why we're here this evening.
The Select Committee's report referring Mr. Meadows for criminal contempt charges is clear and compelling. As White House Chief of Staff Mr. Meadows played a role and/or was a witness to key events leading up to and including the January 6th assault on the United States Capitol.
Don't let lawsuits or op-eds about executive privilege that Mr. Meadows or his representatives confuse you. It comes down to this, Mr. Meadows started by doing the right thing, cooperating. He handed over records that he didn't try to shield behind some excuse. But in an investigation like all of ours, that's just the first step.
When the records raise questions, as these most certainly do, you have to come in and answer those questions. And when it's time for him to follow the law, come in and testify on those questions, he changed his mind and told us to pound sand. He didn't even show up.
Now, this happened the same day his book was published. The same book that goes into detail about matters, the Select Committee is reviewing. It also details conversations he had with President Trump and others, conversations we want to hear more about. He had also appeared on national television discussing the events of January 6th. He has no credible excuse for stonewalling the Select Committee's investigation.
We did receive another letter today from Mr. Meadows' attorney, asking that we not hold his client in criminal contempt. Without objection, that letter will be made part of the record. A small group of people have gotten a lot of attention because of their defiance. But many others have taken a different path and provided important information about January 6th and the context in which the riot occurred.
Anyone who wants to cooperate with our investigation can do so, nearly everyone has. Our democracy was inches from ruin. Our system of government was stretched to the breaking point. Members and staff were terrorized, police officers fought hand to hand for hours, people lost their lives.
The Select Committee recently toured the Capitol and saw firsthand what our brave Capital Police had to endure and heard them say, had it not them for the Metropolitan Police's timely arrival, the rioters would have succeeded. God only knows what the outcome would have been if that had occurred.
We want to figure out why and share that information with the American people and either you're on the side of helping us figure out why or you are trying to stop us from getting those answers, you can parade out whatever argument you want, but really that's all there is to it.
In real life, there aren't a lot of bright line moments. This is one of them. And if you are listening at home, Mr. Meadows, Mr. Bannon, Mr. Clark, I want you to know this, history will be written about these times, about the work this Committee has undertaken. And history will not look upon any of you as martyrs. History will not look upon you as a victim. History will not dwell on your long list of privileged claims or your legal sleight of hand. History will record that in a critical moment in our democracy, most people were on the side of finding the truth or providing accountability or strengthening our system for future generations.
And history will also recall it in this critical moment, that some people would not, that some people he hid behind excuses, went to great lengths to avoid answering questions and explaining what they had done and what they knew. I predict that history won't be kind to those people.
What's especially jarring about the referral we are considering tonight is that Mr. Meadows was a member of this body for more than seven years. He was a leading voice in certain corners, even briefly, the ranking member of the Oversight and Reform Committee. It's not hard to locate records of his time in the House and find Mr. Meadows full of indignation because at the time a prior administration wasn't cooperating with the Congressional investigation to his satisfaction.
Whatever legacy he thought he left in the House, this is his legacy now. His former colleagues singling him out for criminal prosecution, because he wouldn't answer questions about what he knows about a brutal attack on our democracy. That's his legacy. But he hadn't left us any choice, Mr. Meadows put himself in this situation, he must now accept the consequences.
So I will support the Select Committee's adoption of this report, recommending the House cite Mark Randall Meadows for contempt of Congress and refer him to the Department of Justice for prosecution. I'll now yield to a distinguished leader of the Select Committee, Ms. Cheney of Wyoming for any opening remarks she cared to make.
REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. We are here to address a very serious matter, contempt of Congress by a former chief of staff to a former President of the United States. We do not do this lightly and indeed, we had hoped not to take this step at all.
For weeks, as the Chairman noted, we work with Mr. Meadows counsel to reach an agreement on cooperation. But shortly before his scheduled deposition, Mr. Meadows walked away from his commitment to appear and informed us he would no longer cooperate. We believe Mr. Meadows is improperly asserting executive and other privileges. But this vote on contempt today relates principally to Mr. Meadows' refusal to testify about text messages and other communications that he admits are not privileged. He has not claimed and does not have any privileged basis to refuse entirely to testify regarding these topics.
Let me give just three examples. First, President Trump's failure to stop the violence. On January 6th, our capitol building was attacked and invaded. The mob was summoned to Washington by President Trump and as many of those involved have admitted on videotape, in social media and in federal district court, they were provoked to violence by President Trump's false claims that the election was stolen.
The violence was evident to all. It was covered in real time by almost every news channel. But for 187 minutes, President Trump refused to act. When action by our president was required, essential and indeed compelled by his oath to our Constitution, Mr. Meadows received numerous text messages, which he has produced without any privilege claim, imploring that Mr. Trump take the specific action we all knew his duty required.
These text messages leave no doubt, the White House knew exactly what was happening here at the Capitol. Members of Congress, the press and others wrote to Mark Meadows as the attack was underway. One text Mr. Meadows received said, "We are under siege here at the Capitol." Another, "They have breached the Capitol." And third, "Mark, protesters are literally storming the Capitol. Breaking windows on doors rushing in, is Trump going to say something?" A fourth, "There's an armed standoff at the House chamber door." And another from someone inside the Capitol, "We are all helpless."
Dozens of texts including from Trump administration officials urged immediate action by the President, "POTUS has to come out firmly and tell the protesters to dissipate. Someone is going to get killed." In another, "Mark, he needs to stop this now." A third, in all caps. "TELL THEM TO GO HOME." A fourth, and I quote, "POTUS needs to calm this shit down."
Indeed, according to the records, multiple Fox News hosts knew the president needed to act immediately. They texted Mr. Meadows and he has turned over those texts.
"Mark, the President needs to tell people in the capitol to go home. This is hurting all of us. He is destroying his legacy," Laura Ingraham wrote. "Please get him on TV, destroying everything you have accomplished," Brian Kilmeade texted. "Can he make a statement? Ask people to leave the Capitol," Sean Hannity urged.
As the violence continued, one of the President's sons texted Mr. Meadows, "He's got to condemn this shit ASAP. The Capitol Police tweet is not enough," Donald Trump Jr. texted. Meadows responded, "I'm pushing it hard. I agree." Still, President Trump did not immediately act. Donald Trump Jr. texted again and again, urging action by the President, "We need an Oval Office address. He has to lead now. It has gone too far and gotten out of hand." But hours passed without necessary action by the President.
These non-privileged texts are further evidence of President Trump's supreme dereliction of duty during those 187 minutes. And Mr. Meadows' testimony will bear on another key question before this Committee, did Donald Trump through action or inaction corruptly seek to obstruct or impede Congress' official proceedings to count electoral votes?
Mark Meadows testimony is necessary to inform our legislative judgments. Yet he has refused to give any testimony at all. Even regarding non privileged topics, he is in contempt of Congress. Mr. Meadows also has knowledge regarding President Trump's efforts to persuade state officials to alter their official election results.
In Georgia, for instance, Mr. Meadows participated on a phone call between President Trump and Georgia Secretary of State, Raffensperger. Meadows was on the phone when President Trump asked the Secretary of State to 'find 11,780 votes to change the result of the presidential election in Georgia'.
We know from the texts Mr. Meadows has turned over, that at the time of that call, he appears to have been texting other participants on the call. Again, Mr. Meadows has no conceivable privilege basis to refuse to testify on this topic. He is in contempt of Congress.
Third, in the weeks before January 6th, President Trump's appointees at the Justice Department informed him repeatedly that the President's claims of election fraud were not supported by the evidence and that the election was not in fact stolen. President Trump intended to appoint Jeffrey Clark as attorney general, in part so that Mr. Clark could alter the Department of Justice's conclusions regarding the election.
Mr. Clark has informed this committee that he anticipates potential criminal prosecution related to these matters and intends in upcoming testimony to invoke his Fifth Amendment privilege against self- incrimination.
As Mr. Meadows' non-privileged texts revealed, Meadows communicated multiple times with a member of Congress who was working with Mr. Clark. Mr. Meadows has no basis to refuse to testify regarding those communications. He is in contempt.
January 6th was without precedent. There has been no stronger case in our nation's history for a congressional investigation into the actions of a former president. This investigation is not like other congressional inquiries, our Constitution, the structure of our institutions and the rule of law, which are at the heart of what makes America great, are at stake.
We cannot be satisfied with incomplete answers or half truths. And we cannot surrender to President Trump's efforts to hide what happened. We will be persistent, professional and non-partisan. And we will get to the objective truth to ensure the January 6th never happens again. I yield back.
THOMPSON: The gentlelady yields back. Pursuant to notice, I now call up the report on a resolution recommending that the House of Representatives find Mark Randall Meadows in contempt of Congress for refusal to comply with a subpoena duly issued by the Select Committee to investigate the January 6th attack on the United States Capitol. The report was circulated in advance and printed copies available. The Clerk shall designate the report.
CLERK: Report on a resolution recommending that the House of Representatives find Mark Randall Meadows in contempt of Congress for refusal to comply with the subpoena duly issued by the Select Committee to investigate the January 6th attack on the United States Capitol.
THOMPSON: Without objection, the report will be considered as read and open to amendment at any point. The Chair recognizes the gentlewoman from California, Ms. Lofgren.
REP. ZOE LOFGREN (D-CA): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Like all of us on this committee, I knew and served with Mark Meadows when he was in the House. We got along reasonably well when he was here, although we certainly didn't agree on many policy matters.
I wished him well when he left Congress to go serve as the chief of staff to then-President Donald Trump in 2020. But it's shocking that we now have to face the fact that Mr. Meadows admits he played both in official and unofficial role in trying to undermine the results of the 2020 presidential election.
This Committee's job is to find out about that plot, the plot which led up to the events on January 6th and to propose legislative changes to prevent something like that from ever happening again. It's been reported that during the lead up to January 6th, the White House was directing the Department of Justice to investigate outrageous, really crazy conspiracy theories to try and see doubt about the election and as a predicate for the overturning of the election and the replacement of electors. This was to benefit Mr. Trump's effort to overturn the election, we need to talk to Mark Meadows about that.
As the Vice Chair has mentioned, Mr. Meadows made a surprise visit to the state-run audit in Georgia, which preceded the infamous call that she recited where the then-President asked the Secretary of State to go find votes, we need to talk to Mark Meadows about that.
Mr. Meadows interacted with a lot of people, allegedly including some of our own colleagues on the day of the violent attack. And we've learned that many of those interactions took place on a personal cell phone device, so we need to ask Mark Meadows about that.
Mr. Meadows himself has acknowledged that he has responsive and non- privileged documents and communications. He sent some of them to us. He filed others in court. It certainly appears that Mr. Meadows played a key role in events that culminated in the violent attack on the Capitol and on our democracy. He has important information about those events and he must follow the law and cooperate with this committee's lawful requests or face the consequences.
And that's why much as we might personally like Mr. Meadows, we have to take this action today, because no one is above the law. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
THOMPSON: The gentlelady yields back. Chair recognizes the gentleman from Illinois, Mr. Kinzinger.
REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R-IL): Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. This is a near unique moment in history, as we vote on whether to hold a former colleague in contempt of Congress. The last time that happened was 1832.
Mark Meadows has committed a crime, in this case, a premeditated one. He thought carefully about his actions and actively chose to stonewall, which you can clearly see in his back and forth with the Select Committee. First, he produced over 9,000 pages of documents from his time in the White House. Then, after his former boss made it clear his disappointment and displeasure, he didn't want to aid and he refused to answer even a single question from his former colleagues or even to show up at all. This constitutes legal content, but also personal contempt.
Mark Meadows' actions demonstrate his contempt for Congress for the Select Committee for his former colleagues and for the integrity of the democratic process. He has clearly rejected this Committee's investigation. So now it's time to see whether the Department of Justice can be more persuasive. No one is above the law, not even a former president's chief of staff. In a nation of laws, you cannot have it both ways.
He can't decline to tell this story to Congress and on the very same day publish part of that story in a book to line his pockets. He can't decline to answer any questions on the many non-privileged documents he produced to us. He can't unspeak what he has said and call it privileged after the fact.
It is perfectly conceivable that portions of what a president's chief of staff knows is subject to a presidential privilege, shielding that from disclosure. But it is also true that not everything he knew or did during that period is privileged. Mark Meadows knows that. It's why he sent us the documents he did and what made his book possible. That's why the law require him to show up for his deposition and to specify in response to each question, what the answer was and whether or not that answer, in fact, was privileged from disclosure.
His refusal to comply with the direction of Congress stated plainly on the face of the Select Committee subpoena is a display of his contempt for Congress, which now forces us to sadly have to take this action. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and I yield back.
THOMPSON: The gentleman yields back. The Chair recognizes the gentleman from California, Mr. Schiff.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I want to pick up where Mr. Kinzinger left off, 9,000 pages of records. That is what Mr. Meadows has turned over, records over which Mr. Meadows himself has asserted no claim of privilege, none.
These include thousands of text messages spanning the months before Election Day - between Election Day and the end of the former president's term in office. Of these documents, I'm particularly struck by messages that come from lawmakers, who were sending them to Mr. Meadows in the days around January 6th, a time period he's now saying he won't discuss with the Committee.
I want to display just a few of the message he received from people in Congress. The Committee is not naming these lawmakers at this time as our investigation is ongoing. If we could cue the first graphic, this one reads, "On January 6, 2021, Vice President Mike Pence, as President of the Senate, should call out all electoral votes that he believes are unconstitutional as no electoral votes at all." You can see why this is so critical to ask Mr. Meadows about. About a
lawmaker suggesting that the former Vice President simply throw out votes that he unilaterally deems unconstitutional in order to overturn a presidential election and subvert the will of the American people.
Here's another from January 6 as the riot was ongoing and if we could cue the second graphic. "The President needs to stop this ASAP." On the 6th Mr. Meadows received dozens upon dozens of panic messages like this one from lawmakers and others trapped on Capitol Hill for people watching at home begging that the White House that the President of the United States do something to stop the violence.
How did Meadows react to these cries for help? Whom did he tell? What did he do? And critically, what did the President of the United States do and what did he failed to do? Mr. Meadows doesn't think he should have to answer those questions. He wants the American people to be left in the dark.
Here's the last message I want to highlight again from a lawmaker in the aftermath of January 6th. If we could cue graphic number three. "Yesterday was a terrible day. We tried everything we could in our objection to the six states. I'm sorry nothing worked."
The day after a failed attempt to stop the peaceful transfer of power through violence, an elected lawmaker tells the White House chief of staff I'm sorry nothing worked. That is chilling. We would like to ask Mr. Meadows what he thought about that. Mr. Meadows' behavior and his refusal to do his moral duty shows why we need stronger tools to enforce congressional subpoenas.
It's an issue I've worked on for years, but in the absence of those changes, we will use the tools that we have and I expect the Justice Department to move as swiftly in dealing with Mr. Meadows as it did with there Bannon. And prosecute him for violating the law and his duty as a citizen. I support advancing the contempt referral, Mr. Chairman, and I yield back.
THOMPSON: Gentleman, yields back.
The chair recognizing gentleman from California, Mr. Aguilar.
REP. PETE AGUILAR (D-CA): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Last Tuesday, December 7th, the Select Committee received a letter from Mr. Meadows lawyer telling us that his client's appearance for the deposition had become and I am quoting untenable.
Something else happened last Tuesday, "The Chief's Chief" hit the bookstores, Mr. Meadows' memoir. Remember, this is a witness who is refusing to comply with the law and answer our questions. In part, because he says the former President has instructed him to do so. He says he was the chief of staff and he couldn't possibly disclose his conversations with the former president. But let's take look at the book. This is from a section dealing with
the January 6th rally at the ellipse. And I am going to put this quote up here on the screens. I am not going to read the whole thing because we all know what the president said publicly that day.
But I want to read this part. When he got off stage, President Trump let me know that he had been speaking metaphorically about the walk to the Capitol. He knew as well as anyone that we couldn't organize a trip like that on such short notice.
This is interesting because the select committee has a lot of questions about what the president said and did on January 6. We have questions about the protest that day and how they escalated into a riot. And Mark Meadows says can't discuss those details with us. But apparently, he can put them in the book.
He can also discuss them on television. Just weeks after January 6th, Mr. Meadows discussed his interactions with the former president in an interview with Laura Ingraham. Ms. Ingraham asked him: At any time did president of the United States want to or seek to interfere with the vote counting of legitimate votes of the election? He was happy to answer her questions.
Fast forward to last week, Mr. Meadows is back on TV a number of times discussing conversations with the president about security concerns on January 6th. We had questions about that, too. We had questions about his emails that focused on protecting, quote, "pro-Trump people", end quote. He'll share details about his interactions with the former president with Laura Ingraham. He'll share details with Sean Hannity. He will share details with anyone who will shell out 25 bucks for his book.
But in the face of the lawful subpoena, from the select committee, as we work to get answers, for the American people, the only thing Mr. Meadows will share are his excuses.
We don't accept his excuses. He must be held accountable.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I yield back.
THOMPSON: The chair yields back.
The chair recognizes the gentlewoman from Florida, Mrs. Murphy.
REP. STEPHANIE MURPHY (D-FL): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
In a few moments, I will vote to recommend that the House find former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows in contempt of Congress for failing to comply with our committee's subpoena for documents and testimony related to the January 6th attack.
Mr. Meadows was a central participant in the events that culminated in the assault on our capitol, our country, and our core democratic values. To create the most accurate account of what occurred, why it occurred, and what specific steps we can take to prevent it from occurring again, our committee needs to hear from Mr. Meadows. The Supreme Court once observed that a subpoena is not a, quote, an invitation to a game of hare and hounds in which the witness must testify only if cornered at end of the chase.
Yet, as detailed in the underlying report, it is clear to any reasonable observer that Mr. Meadows has treated this committee's request for relevant information as if it were a game. To read the record of how Mr. Meadows has responded to our subpoena, issued in late September, is to come away exhausted, exasperated and just enraged.
And any regular citizen who flouted a congressional or court subpoena like Mr. Meadows would have faced serious legal challenges consequences, and rightly so. This is not a witness who has acted in good faith -- generally, willing to tell his side of the story while declining to disclose certain information based on clear and colorful assertion of legal privilege.
To the contrary, Mr. Meadows initially delayed, resisted, and made unreasonable legal arguments, failed to produce documents in a timely fashion, and refused to appear for a scheduled deposition.
Then, he had an apparent change of heart and pledged his cooperation leading to the production of about 9,000 emails and text messages. And then, he reversed course again, categorically refusing to be deposed about what the documents reveal.
In summary, Mr. Meadows' tactics have wasted the committee's time and taxpayer-funded resources. He's left us with incomplete and inadequate information about what he did, and what he knows, and hindered our effort to fine the truth.
It bears emphasis that the documents Mr. Meadows turned over raise as many questions as they answer. For example, the documents confirm that Mr. Meadows used personal Gmail accounts and a personal cell phone to conduct official business and send communications related to January 6th. And that he also used Signal, the private messenger application.
Had Mr. Meadows been deposed under oath, the committee would have asked him about his handling of official government records, a topic that is not subject to any conceivable legal privilege. This is a critical line of inquiry because we need to know if Mr. Meadows do not properly preserve all of his official emails, texts and messages and provide them to the national archiving as required by law.
After all, our committee has requested and will hopefully soon receive a wide range of Trump administration records from the national archives. We need to know whether the universe of records in the archives possession is complete and comprehensive. Understanding Mr. Meadows compliance with federal record keeping laws, will help ensure the committee ultimately receives all of the relevant documents we are entitled to review as part of our fact-finding mission.
As a result of this actions, and inactions, Mr. Meadows is clearly in contempt of Congress and should be referred to the Department of Justice for criminal prosecution. I yield back.
THOMPSON: The gentlelady yields back.
Chair recognizes gentleman from Maryland, Mr. Raskin.
REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): Thank you Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Meadows's sudden vanishing act is intolerable to the rule of law and to the work of our committee. Imagine how our justice set system would breakdown if any witness could decide to store cooperating made way through a proceeding.
The 9,000 pages that Mr. Meadows has produced in disclosed documents without asserting any kind of privilege put him in the thick of the action with Donald Trump as the Capitol was overrun by violent insurrectionists and as Trump and others tried to overthrow Joe Biden's majority in the Electoral College by exerting coercive president on Vice President Pence.
We are getting a comprehensive portrait of what took place on January 6th but Mr. Meadows' testimony is very significant for us.
Mr. Chairman, the committee bent over backwards to accommodate Mr. Meadows' request. It's now clear that he has no intention of complying with the subpoena even when his testimony could have no theoretical connection to an executive privilege claim. For example, he's categorically refusing to show up to testify about 9,000 pages of documents he already turned over to the committee, and for which he has thus nullified any hypothetical assertions of executive privilege. He is refusing to testify about statements he has made in his book published last week and in the media, about the events of January 6th.
This is again another category of statements where any conceivable executive privilege claim were can be invoked by President Biden were asserted by former President Trump has already been deliberately abrogated and waived by Mr. Meadows. This witness must testify. Like 300 other witnesses before him have done, either voluntarily and proudly, as a patriotic citizen, or at least under compulsion of subpoena by the Congress of the United States.
But he has no right anywhere in the constitutional system to defy the subpoena from the House of Representatives. And if anyone we called as a witness knows in his bones that he must testify, before our committee, it is Mr. Meadows himself. Repeatedly through his career in Congress, he insisted that even high ranking executive branch officials must comply with congressional subpoenas for documents, information and testimony.
In the last administration, multiple times Mr. Meadows found high ranking officials hiding information from Congress withholding relevant documents or, quote, even outright ignoring congressional subpoenas. And he said this at one point, this level of conduct paired with the failure to even feign an interesting in transparency is reprehensible.
[19:40:07] And whether you are Republican or a Democrat, this kind of obstruction is wrong, period. For nine months, we have warned them consequences were coming and for nine months, we heard the same excuses backed by the same unacceptable conduct. Time is up and the consequences are here, unquote.
A subpoenaed witness cannot thwart Article 1 congressional power and process simply by filing an Article 3 lawsuit. The Meadows lawsuit against individual members of this committee is extremely dubious. And in light of the speech and debate clause and other major roadblocks and its substantive allegations are trifle louse such as the claim that Congress has no legitimate purpose in investigating and reporting on a violent attack on our Capitol, our presidential election, and the peaceful transfer of power.
If we have no legitimate legislative purpose, in investigating a violent insurrection against our government, well, then, we simply have no legitimate legislative purpose at all. If this investigation is not necessary and proper, to everything else we are doing, in Congress, then the constitutional has been hollowed out but official lawlessness and shocking collapse in critical thinking skills.
Meadows' last-minute suit is plainly a tactic to delay and obstruct our investigation and it need not detain us any longer Mr. Chairman. We received overwhelming cooperation and participation from Americans who can help us piece together this shocking sequence of events and we have a duty to collect all of the evidence we need to report back to Congress and to the American people on a matter of the utmost gravity and importance to the future of American democracy.
I favor this resolution to proceed with criminal contempt, and I yield back to you, Mr. Chairman.
THOMPSON: Gentleman yields back.
Chair recognizes gentlewoman from Virginia, Ms. Luria.
REP. ELAINE LURIA (D-VA): Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Madam Vice Chair and fellow committee members.
As many of us echoed this evening, we do not take this vote lightly. But this committee and this Congress is left with no other alternative when in the midst of an investigation of this magnitude, we are stonewalled at every turn by those a played a central role in the planning and execution of the January 6th attack. We have a detailed pictured of the attack and the events leading up to it. Our committees heard from almost 300 people, we received more than 30,000 pages documents, and we continue to follow up every day on the more than 250 tips received through our tip line.
Let's be very clear about Mr. Meadows' role and why his testimony is so important. In the course of the investigation, we've heard from individuals involved in a planning of the rallies that immediately proceeded the violent attack on the Capitol. And we know some of those people were in direct contact with Mr. Meadows. We want to ask him about that. We've heard from former White House staffers who are helping us
understand what was going on in the White House and the time leading up to January 6th. Mr. Meadows was a chief of staff in the White House. So, we want to ask him about that.
We've heard from officials at the Justice Department who are on the receiving end of instructions to amplify unsupported claims about the outcome of the election. Mr. Meadows is integral in the efforts, so we want to ask him about that.
We've heard from state level officials about the pressure campaigns and relentless public attacks on democracy, in Arizona, Michigan, and Georgia. But Mr. Meadows actually went to Georgia in connection with the recount effort. The committee and American people must hear from him about that. We are investigating an attempt as one rioter put it, to overthrow the government. The fate of our republic has never faced a threat as acute as and eminent as we face today. And that we are looking into through this investigation.
The extent of the effort reached the highest levels of the government, and it runs right through Mr. Meadows, anything less than the full cooperation further enable the erosion of the constitution, our Democratic institutions, and the rule of law.
I join my colleagues in urging an aye vote on this resolution and I yield back.
THOMPSON: Gentlelady yields back.
If there's no further debate, I now recognize the gentlewoman from Wyoming, Ms. Cheney, for a motion.
REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): Mr. Chairman, I move that the committee favorably report to the House the committee's report on a resolution recommending that the House of Representatives find Mark Randall meadows in contempt of Congress for refusal to comply with the subpoena duly issued by the select committee to investigate the January 6th attack on the United States Capitol.
THOMPSON: The question is the motion to favorably report to the House. Those in favor say aye.
COMMITTEE MEMBERS: Aye.
THOMPSON: Those oppose say no.
In opinion of the chair, the ayes have it.
CHENEY: Mr. Chairman, I request a recorded vote.
THOMPSON: A recorded vote is requested, a clerk will call the roll.
CLERK: Ms. Cheney.
CLERK: Ms. Cheney, aye.
REP. ZOE LOFGREN (D-CA): Aye.
CLERK: Ms. Lofgren, aye.
CLERK: Mr. Schiff, aye.
CLERK: Mr. Aguilar, aye.
CLERK: Mrs. Murphy, aye.
CLERK: Mr. Raskin, aye.
CLERK: Mrs. Luria, aye.
REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R-IL): Kinzinger, aye.
CLERK: Mr. Kinzinger, aye.
THOMPSON: How is the chair recorded?
CLERK: Mr. Chairman, you are not recorded.
THOMPSON: I vote aye.
CLERK: Mr. Chairman, aye.
THOMPSON: The clerk will report the vote.
CLERK: Mr. Chairman, on this vote, there are 9 ayes and zero nos. THOMPSON: The motion is greed to. The vice chair is recognized.
CHENEY: Mr. Chairman, pursuant to Clause 2L of Rule 11, I request that members have two calendar days in which to file with the clerk of the committee supplemental or additional views on the measure ordered reported by the committee tonight.
THOMPSON: So ordered.
Without objection, staff is authorized to make any necessary technical or conforming changes to the report to reflect the actions of the committee. There being no further business, without objection, the select committee stands adjourned.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: All right. That was the pretty stunning series of revelations there when we consider with we heard. I want to go straight to Ryan Nobles who was there.
And, Ryan, you know, we had 55 pages earlier today. We thought they would be putting out some new information and they certainly did. The Vice Chair Liz Cheney adding a lot of new details to the January 6th committee.
RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, there's no doubt about that, Erin. And it just goes to show just how much information the select committee has as it relates to Mark Meadows that we haven't seen, because it seems as though every day, they can roll out some new bombshell of information that shows directly the role that meadows played in the events leading up to and on January 6th.
And tonight, they revealed some of the most damming yet. The message exchanges with members of Congress, with personality from Fox News, with the president's own children. I don't think there's any doubt that the text exchange that they read from Donald Trump Jr. to the chief of staff, imploring him to convince his father to go out and make a public statement to try and quell the violence on Capitol Hill, and we know that the timeline of everything, essentially, the president ignoring even a plea from his son.
This is all information that we did not have before. And it also plays in to this larger argument that the committee is making about the need for Meadows to come in and answer questions about what he knew about January 6th, and in furthermore, about how his knowledge of the events is not in anyway protected under executive privilege because A, he's offered up 6,000 documents, 9,000 pages worth of information, and he's written a book on the topic where he talks about his conversations with the president in and around that time.
And so, now, he needs to fill in these gaps by coming and sitting in front of the committee for a full deposition. That's obviously something Meadows has been reluctant and refused to do. We don't know exactly the reason why he signaled he was willing to and then made an about face at the last second. This will now go to the full house, Erin, they will vote on it probably tomorrow and then it will head to the Department of Justice, and then the next question is whether or not the Department of Justice prosecute Mark Meadows. It's a little bit more of a complicated situation than we've seen with
Steve Bannon or Jeffrey Clark, but it will then be in the hands of Merrick Garland and the Department of Justice -- Erin.
BURNETT: And that is going to be, obviously, as you point, it's a more complicated decision, but it's a crucial one, and we just heard Congresswoman Luria really laying down the gauntlet. If they don't hear from him, it's a true threat to democracy and the rule of law. They're putting that pressure on.
Ryan, thank you very much.
So, Elie Honig is with me, our senior legal analyst, Gloria Borger, our chief political analyst, and our special correspondent Jamie Gangel.
Let me just start with you, Elie. You know, as we were listening to this, and Ryan laid it out. The Vice Chair Cheney laid out three buckets of text messages that we did not hear about until tonight, messages from members of Congress in the heat of the moment. They've breached the Capitol. We're under siege, using their distress and urgency.
The texts from Fox News personalities showing their stress and fear at that moment and from the president's own son -- all of that laying it out.
ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Erin, the text we had seen earlier today were just astonishing. But what we just saw was utterly damning. I mean, text to Mark Meadows, who's right in the center, he's physically with Donald Trump as this is going down. We're under siege up here at the Capitol, someone is going to get killed. POTUS needs to calm this blank down.
I mean, that is crucial to what the committee is doing. What we're seeing is the committee is playing hardball with Mark Meadows. Congress ultimately doesn't have that strong a legal tools to enforce compliance. This is the heaviest hammer that they have, to recommend him for criminal contempt and just to -- you know, base level, Mark Meadows could be indicted federally, handcuffed and go to prison if Merrick Garland charges. They have to do it.
And last thing to keep in mind, these are just the text Mark Meadows chose to turn over. He said to the committee, you can see these, but not these. We need to know what the other ones are.
BURNETT: Right. And, you know, Jamie, from all your reporting, and you've been relentless on this in terms of finding out more information of what's in this, that is a really important thing to emphasize, right? These are the 6,000 documents, 9,000 pages, that Mark Meadows thought were, you know, exonerated him. And yet this is what we are actually seeing in here, and they have more and more and more to lay out. JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: So, to your point, what we
heard tonight I believe is just a small number of the text messages. I was told by a source familiar that there are hundreds of text messages that the committee thinks are relevant. And so, I think there's more to come. This was just the beginning.
I want to say something just about what Elie said about how hard they're being on Mark Meadows. I would like to add that this is a day of reckoning for Donald Trump, because we don't like to use the word "lying" as reporters, but look at these Fox News hosts. They have been lying. They were lying on January 6th.
They go on social media every day. They go on the air and pretend January 6th was not a big deal. And I would say also that while we heard from Trump loyalists, Republican congressmen, people saying to Mark Meadows -- Mark, he needs to stop this now -- this is someone who knows meadows well, I would say one of the most remarkable things that Liz Cheney has done is -- she has gone on the record with Don Jr.'s text.
This is an exchange that goes back and forth where he says -- he says that, quote, he's got to condemn this shit as soon as possible, and then he says to Mark Meadows, again, we need to an Oval address. He has to lead now. It has gone too far and gotten out of hand.
That's the president's son who, let's just add, did not go to his father, perhaps couldn't go to his father, and went to Mark Meadows.
BURNETT: You know what's amazing is to me the Shakespearean aspect of this stands out. Donald Trump Jr. so like -- yelling but so feebly. I mean, it's your father.
BURNETT: And you got to go to Mark Meadows who's known the guy for a couple years when you've known him for 40-some odd years. I mean, there's the Shakespearean part of it.
Let me -- let Liz Cheney read that exchange but I think it's so crucial, Gloria.
Here is the text exchange we have, this specific one between Donald Trump Jr. and mark Meadows as the actual insurrection is happening.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHENEY: As the violence continued, one of the president's sons texted Mr. Meadows, quote: He's got to condemn this shit ASAP. The Capitol police tweet is not enough, Donald Trump Jr. texted.
Meadows responded, quote, I'm pushing it hard. I agree.
Still, President Trump did not immediately act. Donald Trump Jr. texted again and again, urging action by the president. Quote, we need an Oval Office address. He has to lead now. It has gone too far and gotten out of hand, end quote.
But hours passed without necessary action by the president.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: So, Gloria, that is what Donald Trump Jr. really thought.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Yeah.
BURNETT: Despite his many comments since, you know, downplaying the whole event.
BORGER: And Laura Ingraham, who said this is hurting all of us. He is destroying his legacy. This is Laura Ingraham, who mocked the police officers after they testified before the committee.
Look, if you are someone who believes Fox News anchors like Laura Ingraham, if you are a fan of Donald Trump Jr., what are you thinking tonight if you are hearing this? You should be thinking, I think, that these people are imposters, that they have been double-dealing you.
BORGER: Here they were texting Mark Meadows the day of the insurrection and saying get this to stop, this is terrible for all of us. And yet, now, they are portraying the insurrection as something that was close to a walk in the park.
BORGER: That the police officers should be mocked, that Donald Trump did nothing wrong.
What Liz Cheney did tonight was say Meadows knew, the White House knew, the Fox News anchors are complete hypocrites, and Donald Trump Jr. knew and couldn't even tell his father directly.
BURNETT: Well, right. So, you know, Brian Stelter is with us as well now.
And, Brian, there is that kind of moment where Liz Cheney is talking about Laura Ingraham, right, as she says he's destroying his legacy.
Sean Hannity texts Mark Meadows, can he make a statement ask people to leave the Capitol, OK? That's what Sean Hannity said in that moment.
BRIAN STELTER, CNN CHIEF MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Yes.
BURNETT: That's what he thought in that moment.
Here's just one example of how Sean Hannity has talked about that day in public to his viewers since -- we don't have it?
STELTER: Well, I'll tell you what he said that night, Erin.
BURNETT: I'm sorry, right, go ahead.
STELTER: Erin, he said I'd like to know who the agitators are. Hannity was suggesting it wasn't Trump supporters who were terrorists in the Capitol that night. Laura Ingraham that night, January 6, brought on guests to promote the idea that it was actually liberal Antifa who attacked the Capitol.
BURNETT: Right, Antifa, yeah.
STELTER: Tucker Carlson the same night made those same lies, yet we see in these text messages the truth.
Yesterday, Chris Wallace had enough. He quit Fox News. Tonight, we had these text messages proving that these Fox stars knew what was happening. Yet, Fox didn't even broadcast this tonight, Erin. Neither did Newsmax, neither One America News. They are keeping the echo chamber so firmly protected so the truth doesn't get out anymore.
I don't know why anybody calls these prime time shows anything related to news anymore. This is the truth and yet I don't know if those Fox viewers are going to hear it, Erin.
BURNETT: Well, they're certainly not going to get it on their network, right? They're not -- this isn't going to get reported on. As you pointed, it's not even carried live.
Elie, there's a fundamental point being made by Liz Cheney, right, as she lays this out, the desperation from inside the Capitol, the desperation from Trump administration officials, the desperation from the Fox News host, and from the president's own son, and that is, did Donald Trump through action or inaction corruptly seek to obstruct or impede Congress official proceedings to count electoral votes?
That is a crucial point she's making there. There's the action of what he may have known and done and aided and abetted and encouraged, and then there's the proven, even in the public texts that they have inaction in the moment.
HONIG: Exactly, Erin. The action is what Donald Trump and Mark Meadows spent weeks setting in motion. The inaction is what they did when they were being told real time this is incredibly dangerous, people are getting hurt. The beautiful thing about texts to an investigator is they tell you exactly what on someone's mind, what they really think, not what they may say later, whether it's the Fox News host.
BURNETT: The heat of the moment.
HONIG: Heat of the moment, that's truth, and it comes through here and they knew it was dangerous and they knew only Donald Trump could stop it.
BURNETT: And when you hear this from Mark -- Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham and Donald Trump Jr., what's your gut reaction? This is what they said in the moment. Donald Trump Jr. even going so far as to say the Capitol police tweet, you know, where the president said I support law enforcement -- not enough.
HONIG: Judges sometimes tell juries that science hasn't developed a way to read someone's mind, but texts are damn close, and these texts show you what's exactly on these folks' mind, as this was going down. That's truth.
BURNETT: It is. And it is amazing what we saw here laid out, of course, by the vice chair, Liz Cheney, tonight as we continue to cover this breaking news as well as the breaking news from the Midwest.
Thank you so much for joining us.
Now let's hand it over to "AC360".