Former Trump White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said in an email the day before the Jan. 6 riot at the US Capitol that the National Guard would be on the scene to “protect pro Trump people,” according to a report released late Sunday by the House select committee investigating the events of that day.
The panel’s report does not provide further details about the message, but suggests that Meadows “knows if and when [former President Donald] Trump was engaged in discussions regarding the National Guard’s response to the Capitol riot, a point that is contested but about which Mr. Meadows provided documents to the Select Committee and spoke publicly on national television after President Trump left office.”
The committee is expected to vote Monday night on the report, which recommends that Meadows be held in contempt of Congress. If the report is approved, as expected, the full House is expected to vote on referring Meadows to the Justice Department for potential prosecution as soon as Tuesday.
The 51-page report details questions the committee would have asked Meadows had he appeared for a scheduled deposition last week. It also describes some of the approximately 6,600 pages of records and 2,000 text messages Meadows turned over to the committee before ending his work with the panel.
The report also flags a message Meadows received from an organizer of the Jan. 6 “Stop the Steal” rally which precipitated the attack on the Capitol.
“Things have gotten crazy and I desperately need some direction,” the organizer told Meadows. “Please.”
Later that day, the committee says, Meadows was “with or in the vicinity of then-President Trump … as he learned about the attack on the U.S. Capitol and decided whether to issue a statement that could stop the rioters.”
The report goes on to describe a message Meadows received from a person described only as a “former White House employee” who said: “You guys have to say something. Even if the president’s not willing to put out a statement, you should go to the [cameras] and say, ‘We condemn this. Please stand down.’ If you don’t, people are going to die.’’
Meadows’ text messages also include an exchange with an unidentified senator about Trump’s view of why then-Vice President Mike Pence should reject electors from certain states so that state legislators could replace them with electors who would cast votes for the former president. According to the report, Meadows texted the senator that Trump “thinks the legislators have the power, but the VP has power too.”
Pence was presiding over the count of the Electoral College vote in Congress on Jan. 6 when the mob descended on the Capitol in an effort to disrupt the proceedings.
After hours of pitched battles between the crowds and Capitol and DC police, Congress reconvened and voted to accept the results of the 2020 election for President Biden.
Last week, Meadows sued the committee and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, arguing that the initial subpoenas he had received in September were “overly broad and unduly burdensome.”
“The Select Committee acts absent any valid legislative power and threatens to violate longstanding principles of executive privilege and immunity that are of constitutional origin and dimension,” the court filing says.
“Without intervention by this Court, Mr. Meadows faces the harm of both being illegally coerced into violating the Constitution and having a third party involuntarily violate Mr. Meadows rights and the requirements of relevant laws governing records of electronic communications,” the court document says.
On Monday, Meadows attorney George Terwilliger released a letter to the committee in which he warned that referring Meadows to the DOJ for potential prosecution was “contrary to law.”
“Mr. Meadows’s choice to decline a deposition is an attempt to comply with his legal obligations as a former advisor [sic] to the president,” Terwilliger wrote. “History and the law teach that this attempt is not a crime.”
Trump has asserted that thousands of pages of records held by the National Archives are covered by executive privilege. The Biden administration, in a rare move, has declined to assert that privilege in an effort to aid the committee.
Former White House adviser and longtime Trump ally Steve Bannon also defied a subpoena from the committee to provide documents and testimony, citing “executive privilege.”
Bannon was indicted last month by a federal grand jury on criminal contempt charges.
With Post wires