Biden says Meadows ‘worthy of being held in contempt’

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U.S. President Joe Biden speaks to reporters as he walks to Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House December 15, 2021 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

(The Hill) — President Joe Biden said Wednesday that he believed former Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows is “worthy” of being held in contempt by Congress. 

Speaking to reporters briefly before leaving for a trip to Kentucky, Biden said he hadn’t read all the texts that Meadows turned over to the Jan. 6 committee but added, “It seemed to me he is worthy of being held in contempt.” 

The House voted late Tuesday to hold Meadows, former President Donald Trump’s fourth and final chief of staff, in contempt of Congress for refusing to testify before the select committee investigating the Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol. Two Republicans, Reps. Liz Cheney (Wy.) and Adam Kinzinger (Ill.), both of whom are members of the Jan. 6 committee, voted with Democrats to approve the contempt charge. 

The move refers Meadows to the Justice Department, which will now need to decide whether to pursue criminal contempt charges against the former chief of staff. The Justice Department moved forward with a criminal contempt charge against Trump ally Steve Bannon earlier this year on a referral from Congress after he refused to cooperate with the Jan. 6 committee.

The White House has sought to avoid commenting on or influencing ongoing Justice Department proceedings, though Biden told reporters in October he believed the department should prosecute individuals who refuse to cooperate with the Jan. 6 committee’s subpoenas. 

Meadows has become a focus of the committee’s investigation. While he has refused to sit with the panel for an interview, he turned over a trove of documents that have provided insight into the communications among Trump allies amidst the Capitol attack.

For instance, text messages Meadows provided showed that Fox News hosts Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham and Brian Kilmeade all pleaded with Meadows to convince Trump to do more in the moment to quell the violence at the Capitol. Donald Trump Jr., Trump’s eldest son, also demanded an Oval Office address. 

The White House weighed in on the messages on Tuesday, calling them “disappointing.”

“It’s disappointing and unfortunately not surprising that some of the very same individuals who were willing to warn, condemn, and express horror over what happened on Jan. 6 in private were totally silent in public, or even worse, were spreading lies and conspiracy theories and continued to since that time,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters when asked about the newly revealed messages at a briefing.

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