A secret Jan. 6 committee vote to hold Mark Meadows in contempt of Congress was carried out “for the first time in the history of the United States” as debate was interrupted by a “short, but loud cry” during a closed session to approve the contempt charges.
A tally on the document, taken by CNN legal analyst Sunny Hostin, was 32-1, with two members voting present and two others voting for a motion.
Although Meadows’ exact score is not known, the final vote was reflected by a simple flip of the gavel once he cast his “aye” to the motion to approve the contempt charges.
Meadows had originally obtained a public hearing on the committee’s subpoena of him. In doing so, he argued that because the majority’s vote to use the contempt power was unanimous, there was no need for the hearing he sought. However, because of that majority vote, Meadows became the only member of Congress to be held in contempt of Congress during current proceedings in the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
In the fight over this document, Meadows’ lawyers have argued that it was provided to the committee by the Office of Government Ethics, which produced it in response to the lawmaker’s subpoenas. However, the House committee voted Monday not to release the document and voted to use its own subpoena to take possession of it. That document was supposed to be given to the committee’s chief counsel on Monday, but Meadows’ attorneys were unsuccessful in having a judge authorize it.
In other developments from the closed session, Rep. Elijah Cummings, a Maryland Democrat and chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, explained why Meadows’ threat that he would sue the House if it did not release the memo was the wrong strategy.
“The reality of this situation and as it relates to a lawsuit is that the lawsuit will be at all times paid for by the taxpayers. We cannot continue to spend taxpayer dollars and the time of committee staff by trying to prevent us from using this information,” Cummings said.
In addition, House Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Adam Schiff of California said Monday that House Republicans have recently opted to not hand over documents to the Democrat-controlled House Intelligence Committee on the FISA process and whether Republicans have improperly concealed facts related to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.
House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes of California had initially turned over certain FISA documents to the panel, but Nunes was in recent months accused of illegally leaking to Fox News’ Susan Ferrechio, as well as anonymously criticizing the committee in a new memo. The classified documents, which are now under the control of Democratic committee staffers, are being reviewed for partisan bias.
“Mr. Nunes simply stopped turning over all the information to the committee, including FISA,” Schiff said. “Now, we’re going to go back to the methods. Who believes they are the only people in the country who have read that memo?”
The House Intelligence Committee is in the midst of an investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, and whether the Trump campaign colluded in those efforts. Republicans have contended that the investigation has overstepped its bounds.
House Intelligence Committee Chair Devin Nunes said on Monday that the committee is refusing to continue its Russia investigation because Democrats and some Republicans are “actively undermining” the committee’s legitimacy.
“The panel can’t proceed with a credible investigation into Russian election interference,” Nunes said. “The committee has been hearing from witnesses and reviewing documents for more than a year with the goal of answering the serious constitutional questions the nation was left with after the Russians attacked our election.”
CNN Senior Congressional Analyst Bill Sammon contributed to this report.