WASHINGTON (CN) — The House voted Tuesday night to hold former president Donald Trump's ex-Chief of Staff Mark Meadows in contempt after an agreement for the former White House official to work with the committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack fell through last week.
The House voted 222–218 on Tuesday to find Meadows in contempt for refusing to testify before the investigative committee, a vote that largely split down party lines and revealed the severe partisan tensions surrounding the committee's investigation and its attempts to get detailed testimony from those who were closest to the former president as his supporters laid siege to the Capitol building.
“We are here with great sadness. We are here recognizing and understanding the seriousness of the situation,” Representative Liz Cheney, one of two Republicans on the Jan. 6 committee, said on the floor of the House ahead of the vote.
Cheney and Representative Adam Kinzinger of Illinois were the only Republicans to vote in favor of holding Meadows in contempt.
Whether Meadows will face criminal charges for his defiance is now up to the U.S. attorney's office in D.C., and while former Trump ally Steve Bannon has been charged for his refusal to comply with the investigation, Meadows' own fate remains in question.
Meadows did initially reach an agreement with the committee last month, turning over thousands of documents and personal texts and emails to the panel.
But his assertions that his previous position as a White House official gave him executive privilege and exempted him from having to testify before the committee led to the dissolution of the deal as House lawmakers asserted Meadows needed to answer questions before the panel about his communications with former President Donald Trump and the documents he turned over to the committee.
During a Monday night committee meeting, some of the documents, including personal texts, Meadows disclosed to the committee came to light for the first time, providing startling insight into the conversations surrounding the former president's advisors as his supporters stormed the Capitol in an attempt to overturn the election.
Cheney read out messages sent to Meadows on Jan. 6, including a text thread between the former chief of staff and Donald Trump Jr. in which the former president's eldest son urged Meadows to call for Trump to step in and hold an Oval Office address as rioters invaded the Capitol building.
"He's got to condemn this shit ASAP," Trump Jr. wrote.
"I'm pushing it hard, I agree," Meadows wrote back, according to Cheney.
Multiple Fox News hosts, who have since downplayed the intensity and terror of the attack, also sent messages to Meadows urging for the president to intervene and call for an end to the attack.
"Mark, the president needs to tell people in the Capitol to go home. This is hurting all of us. He is destroying his legacy," Fox TV personality Laura Ingraham wrote to Meadows, according to Cheney.
"Can he make a statement? Ask people to leave the Capitol," Sean Hannity texted Meadows.
Members of the investigative committee said the messages require Meadows' testimony, raising questions about the former president's conversations with his advisors and why the president did not publicly condemn the attack by his supporters.
“All of these texts and hundreds more like them lead to hundreds of questions that we have about the sequence of events on Jan. 6. Who did what in response to different pleas from lawmakers, Democrat and Republican alike? Who did what in response to these pleas coming in from members of the media and from members of the Trump family? What was the sequence of events?" Representative Jamie Raskin, a Democrat from Maryland and member of the Jan. 6 panel, said.