House Rules Committee recommends congressman be held in contempt for refusing to testify on harassment allegations

The House Rules Committee on Wednesday recommended the full House file a contempt of Congress complaint against North Carolina Republican Rep. Mark Meadows, who has refused to appear before the panel to testify on allegations made in a letter from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi that he encouraged a group of conservative activists to attempt to poison Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters’ staff members.

Meadows, who chairs the conservative House Freedom Caucus, wrote the letter to Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland on Dec. 6, 2018, alleging Waters was being targeted by “an organized effort” to treat her “such a campaign of harassment, intimidation, and retribution.”

Following the remarks, Pelosi and Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Calif., asked the House Ethics Committee to investigate Meadows. The committee received Meadows’ letter on Feb. 22, writing back that it planned to investigate the allegation, and sent the document to Meadows a few days later. He sent a response on March 3, responding, “We have not yet resolved this matter and my office is still reviewing the Ethics Committee’s response.”

“We still have a duty to uphold the constitutional duty of this institution and we must act to protect the safety and security of our staff and citizens,” Pelosi said in a March 25 letter to Meadows. “We cannot ask our colleagues to act as stewards of the Constitution while refusing to meet our own constitutional duties.”

But Meadows has not responded to the committee’s letter, which provides a factual basis for why it is compelled to find Meadows in contempt of Congress, Democratic sources said.

“The committee is expressing its duty to present findings of fact and legal findings that its members must have a full opportunity to hear from the witnesses involved,” the Rules Committee wrote in its recommendations. “The committee believes that having a full opportunity to hear from Mr. Meadows, who, through his attendance, can reveal details of the incident described in the letter, including whether he introduced his constituents to members of Congress, may ensure that the committee has the most informed view of the facts and the law.”

A vote on whether to send the charges to the full House is scheduled for Thursday.

More generally, Meadows’ comments about Waters likely raised Republicans’ ire, as the GOP was preparing for the start of a new year and choosing a new leader, who was nominated at the Republican National Committee’s annual winter meeting.

Meadows has said he will work with Hoyer to “develop a resolution of sanctions on Democrat haters.”

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