Donald Trump’s former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows has defended himself after the House Select Committee investigating the 6 January Capitol Hill riots made public a series of text messages urging him to convince the former president to call an end to the riots.
On Monday, the House Select Committee voted to recommend prosecution for criminal contempt of Congress after Mr Meadows refused to testify about the 6 January insurrection.
In an interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity hours later, Mr Meadows said that he was not surprised by the House moving to hold him in contempt. “It’s disappointing, but not surprising,” he said. “Let’s be clear about this, this is not about me, holding me in contempt. It’s not even about making the Capitol safer.”
“We’ve seen that by the selective leaks that are going on right now. This is about Donald Trump and about actually going after him once again,” he said, adding that the “real nature of this investigation, the foundation, is not based on a legislative purpose”.
Later on Monday, the House committee voted to advance referring Mr Meadows to the Department of Justice (DOJ) on criminal contempt of Congress charges – a development that Mr Meadows had predicted on Mr Hannity’s show.
Mr Meadows spoke to the conservative broadcaster Newsmax on Tuesday, arguing that the impending vote to hold him in contempt of Congress was more about Mr Trump than his own actions.
“This is not about holding me in contempt. This is more about Donald Trump and trying to come after him,” Mr Meadows said.
The former Trump aide also argued that the former president himself was also concerned about the violent scenes unfolding at the Capitol.
“A number of people were concerned about the violence,” Mr Meadows told Newsmax. “All of us were, including the president, the entire nation, so there’s no problem here as much as there is a selective disclosure of certain text, trying to feed a narrative that the Jan. 6 committee wants to put forth, and it’s this conspiracy that somehow the Jan. 6 breach of the Capitol was somehow a planned effort from the White House, and that’s just simply not the case. I think the text messages show that.”
A new report from the House committee detailed Mr Meadows’ private messages leading up to and during the attempted insurrection on 6 January.
The 51-page report contained his communications with people regarding the 2020 presidential elections, Mr Trump’s lies about it and his actions during the riot. It was released after Mr Meadows refused to answer questions from the committee.
“In fact, as the violence at the Capitol unfolded, Mr Meadows received many messages encouraging him to have Mr Trump issue a statement that could end the violence, and one former White House employee reportedly contacted Mr Meadows several times and told him,” said the report.
Mr Meadows was cooperating with the House committee earlier but later stopped and is now suing them. “I can say that when you look at the criminal component of the intent, there’s never been an intent on my part,” Mr Meadows said.
“I have tried to share non-privileged information but truly, the executive privilege that Donald Trump has claimed is not mine to waive, it’s not congress’ to waive and that’s why we filed the lawsuit to hopefully get the courts to weigh in – hopefully they will weigh in,” he added.
However, the interview with Fox News did not include any questions on the text messages that had been sent to Mr Meadows.
“They want to talk about the part that fits their narrative,” Mr Meadows said. “And what we do know that in one of the things that is coming out more and more clearly each and every day is that everyone condemned what happened in terms of the breach of security on the capitol on 6 January.”