NC’s Mark Meadows tied to election conspiracy in Jan. 6 panel’s criminal referral of Trump

Patrick Semansky/AP

Mark Meadows, the former North Carolina congressman who served as Donald Trump’s final chief of staff, is one of a few Trump allies mentioned in a U.S. House committee’s unprecedented report referring the former president to the Justice Department for potential prosecution.

The U.S. House committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol accused Trump Monday of breaking multiple laws in his bid to overturn the 2020 election and recommended in a 154-page summary of its 18-month investigation that federal prosecutors examine whether Trump’s actions in the build-up to and aftermath of the attack on the Capitol amounted to violations of four statutes: inciting an insurrection; obstructing an official proceeding; conspiring to make a false statement; and conspiring to defraud the United States.

The committee also made a referral for John Eastman, an outside lawyer involved in the effort to overturn the election.

In addition to Trump and Eastman, however, the committee said it believed there was “sufficient evidence” for referrals to be made for “certain other Trump associates” under at least two of the relevant statutes. One of those individuals appears to be Mark Meadows.

Obstruction of an official proceeding — the joint session of Congress to certify the result of the 2020 election that was interrupted by rioters — is the first statute where the committee says it believes there is enough evidence to refer Trump allies other than Eastman as well.

Under the second statute, however — conspiracy to the defraud the U.S. — the committee names Meadows along with Rudy Giuliani and Kenneth Chesebro as allies of the former president who it believes were involved in a conspiracy to obstruct the certification of the election.

“Again, as with Section 1512(c), the conspiracy under Section 371 appears to have also included other individuals such as Chesebro, Rudolph Giuliani, and Mark Meadows,” the report states, before adding an important clarification. “But this Committee does not attempt to determine all of the participants of the conspiracy, many of whom refused to answer this Committee’s questions.”

Criminal referrals made by Congress aren’t new. But in Trump’s case, the move by the House committee is unprecedented. No previous president has ever been the subject of a referral by Congress, according to the Washington Post.

Committee accuses Meadows of lying in his book

Meadows is mentioned in the committee’s report more than 50 times.

In a section regarding concerns of committee members about the testimony of certain witnesses and lawyers, the committee said it believes that Meadows included several “intentional falsehoods” in his December 2021 book, “The Chief’s Chief.”

One example cited in the report involves Meadows’ recollection of Trump’s intentions after he spoke to supporters at the Ellipse, before many of them walked to the Capitol grounds. In his book, Meadows wrote that when Trump walked offstage, he told Meadows he “had been speaking metaphorically about the walk to the Capitol.”

“He knew as well as anyone that we couldn’t organize a trip like that on such short notice,” Meadows wrote. “It was clear the whole time that he didn’t actually intend to walk down Pennsylvania Avenue with the crowd.”

According to committee members, however, Meadows’ recollection in the book “appeared to be an intentional effort to conceal the facts.”

“Multiple witnesses directly contradicted Meadows’s account about President Trump’s desire to travel to the Capitol, including Kayleigh McEnany, Cassidy Hutchinson, multiple Secret Service agents, a White House employee with national security responsibilities and other staff in the White House, a member of the Metropolitan Police and others,” the report states.

Trump’s plans after speaking to supporters at the Ellipse became a focus for the committee after Cassidy Hutchinson, a former aide to Meadows, testified before the committee that Trump wanted to go to the Capitol, and “had a very strong, very angry response” when he was told by Secret Service agents that they couldn’t take him there.

Meadows also faces NC investigation

As the committee sought communications regarding Trump’s effort to stay in office, Meadows initially cooperated with the investigation, turning over thousands of emails and text messages.

In December 2021, however, he backed out of a deposition in front of the committee. Less than a week later, the Democratic-led House voted to hold him in contempt of Congress for not cooperating, NPR reported. Justice Department officials ultimately chose not to prosecute him for contempt as the House had recommended, according to Politico.

Earlier this year, Meadows became embroiled in a separate controversy, after an article in the New Yorker magazine raised questions of whether Meadows may have committed voter fraud by registering to vote in North Carolina ahead of the 2020 election at an address where he had never lived.

The State Bureau of Investigation opened an investigation in March 2022 and said last week it had submitted its findings to the office of Democratic Attorney General Josh Stein, whose office would determine if criminal charges were warranted.

A spokesperson for Stein’s office confirmed they had received the file, but said she couldn’t comment further on the case since the investigation is ongoing.

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