The chairman and vice chair of the committee investigating Jan. 6 on Tuesday threatened former President Donald Trump’s chief of staff Mark Meadows with contempt of Congress charges if he fails to testify when he appears before the panel Wednesday.
Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., and Vice Chair Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., issued a statement after Meadows earlier Tuesday said he would stop cooperating with the committee and would not be testifying.
Meadows served as a Republican House member until he joined Trump’s administration last year.
“Mark Meadows has informed the Select Committee that he does not intend to cooperate further with our investigation despite his apparent willingness to provide details about the facts and circumstances surrounding the Jan. 6 attack, including conversations with President Trump, in the book he is now promoting and selling,” Thompson and Cheney wrote in a statement.
“Even as we litigate privilege issues, the Select Committee has numerous questions for Mr. Meadows about records he has turned over to the committee with no claim of privilege, which include real-time communications with many individuals as the events of Jan. 6 unfolded,” they said. “We also need to hear from him about voluminous official records stored in his personal phone and email accounts, which were required to be turned over to the National Archives in accordance with the Presidential Records Act.”
Wednesday’s deposition, which the committee’s leaders said was scheduled at Meadows’ request, will go forward as planned.
“If indeed Mr. Meadows refuses to appear, the Select Committee will be left no choice but to advance contempt proceedings and recommend that the body in which Mr. Meadows once served refer him for criminal prosecution,” they said.
The Democrat-led committee last week said Meadows had provided records and agreed to appear “soon” for a deposition after failing to show up for a previously scheduled one. But on Tuesday he indicated he would not be cooperating with the ongoing probe.
“We have made efforts over many weeks to reach an accommodation with the committee,” but have been unable to come to terms, Meadows’ attorney George Terwilliger told Fox News.
Trump’s former chief strategist Steve Bannon already faces contempt charges for refusing to testify, while former Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark has been recommended by the House Jan. 6 committee to be sent to the full House to vote to recommend a contempt of Congress charge for him, too.
Trump supporters stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6 in a bid to prevent formal congressional certification of his 2020 presidential election loss to Democrat Joe Biden.
Before the Capitol was stormed by protesters, Trump gave a speech to his supporters repeating his claims the election was stolen from him through widespread voting fraud. He urged them to go to the Capitol to “peacefully” have their voices heard and “fight like hell” to “stop the steal.”
Trump and his supporters have insisted his words were not an encouragement to commit acts of violence.
The former president has urged associates not to cooperate with the committee, calling the investigation politically motivated — as there are only two Republicans on the committee, both anti-Trump and appointed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
Trump also contends his communications are protected by executive privilege, although many legal experts have said that legal principle does not apply to former presidents.
Reuters contributed to this report.