A report out Sunday that recommends that Trump administration chief of staff Mark Meadows be held in contempt of Congress alleges that he said National Guard troops would keep President Donald Trump’s supporters safe Jan. 6.
In bullet points listing urgent questions for Meadows, the report by the House committee investigating the Capitol riot cites an email he is alleged to have sent Jan. 5 about the security of Trump supporters who would hit the streets the next day.
The recipient of the email is not identified.
“Mr. Meadows sent an email to an individual about the events on January 6 and said that the National Guard would be present to ‘protect pro Trump people’ and that many more would be available on standby,” it said.
An attorney for Meadows did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The claim adds a different angle to the government response to the Jan. 6 violence. Despite widespread forecasts of potential unrest, Capitol Police appeared to be overwhelmed by the incursion, and the National Guard was slow to respond.
The report was released to support a resolution to hold Meadows in contempt. A simple majority of the House could produce a contempt of Congress citation that would be referred to the Justice Department.
A federal grand jury last month indicted Steve Bannon, a former top adviser to Trump, on two allegations of contempt of Congress — one for refusing to appear for a deposition and another for declining to produce documents the committee requested.
Bannon pleaded not guilty to both counts.
Meadows and Bannon have claimed that they are exempt from the law because they are covered by executive privilege, the doctrine that seeks to protect certain communications with the president to allow White House leaders to freely lead and respond to crises. Bannon left the White House in 2017 but maintained a relationship with Trump.
“The Select Committee is confident that there is no conceivable immunity or executive privilege claim that could bar all of the Select Committee’s requests or justify Mr. Meadows’s blanket refusal to appear for the required deposition,” the report said.
Meadows has twice failed to show up for scheduled depositions before committee investigators this fall, even though he produced documents that would be a part of his testimony, the report said. Other documents, it said, might have been misplaced.
“It appears that Mr. Meadows may not have complied with legal requirements to retain or archive documents under the Presidential Records Act,” the report states.
The Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol is trying to find out whether high-level political organizing was behind the violence, during which Trump supporters stormed the Capitol as they sought to thwart congressional certification of the 2020 presidential election won by Joe Biden.
The panel has alleged that Meadows has knowledge of Trump’s activities Jan. 6 and appeared to have lines of communication with organizers of a rally near the Capitol that day.
“Mr. Meadows was in contact with at least some of the private individuals who planned and organized a January 6 rally, one of whom reportedly may have expressed safety concerns to Mr. Meadows about January 6 events,” the report states.
Meadows received a text from an organizer of the rally on the Ellipse, apparently as people moved toward the Capitol, seeking direction after things “had gotten crazy,” according the report’s quotation of the communication.
The report also indicates that the committee believes Meadows may know significant information about Trump’s request to Georgia’s secretary of state to “find” a precise number of votes that would overturn his loss there.
By Kyle Stewart and Dennis Romero | NBC News