▶ Watch Video: House January 6 panel supports holding Mark Meadows in contempt
Washington — As a mob of former President Donald Trump’s supporters violently breached the U.S. Capitol on January 6, three hosts from Fox News and the president’s eldest son privately implored then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows to push the president to call for an end to the mayhem, according to text messages revealed by the House select committee probing the Capitol assault.
The messages, read aloud by Congresswoman Liz Cheney of Wyoming on Monday night, were among the roughly 9,000 pages of emails and text messages Meadows turned over to the House panel before he stopped cooperating with investigators.
After Cheney revealed the new evidence, the committee unanimously voted to recommend Meadows be charged with criminal contempt of Congress for failing to comply with its subpoena. The full House is expected to vote on whether to hold Meadows in contempt later Tuesday.
“These non-privileged texts are further evidence of President Trump’s supreme dereliction of duty during those 187 minutes,” Cheney said.
The messages made public by the committee were sent to Meadows as the violence unfolded at the Capitol building and came from Fox News hosts’ Laura Ingraham, Sean Hannity and Brian Kilmeade.
“Mark, the president needs to tell people in the Capitol to go home. This is hurting all of us. He is destroying his legacy,” Ingraham texted Meadows, as read by Cheney.
“Please get him on TV. Destroying everything you have accomplished,” Kilmeade wrote to Meadows, according to the committee.
“Can he make a statement? Ask people to leave the Capitol?” Hannity asked, Cheney revealed.
Donald Trump, Jr., the president’s oldest son, also reached out to Meadows via text and called for his father to address the violence at the Capitol.
“He’s got to condemn this s**t ASAP. The Capitol Police tweet is not enough,” Trump Jr. wrote, as read by Cheney. In a tweet from his now-banned account, the president told his supporters just after 2:30 p.m. on January 6 to “Please support our Capitol Police and Law Enforcement. They are truly on the side of our Country. Stay peaceful!”
Meadows responded, “I’m pushing it hard. I agree.”
“We need an Oval Office address. He has to lead now. It has gone too far and gotten out of hand,” Trump Jr. said in another text, according to the committee.
Meadows also communicated with unnamed members of Congress about the events of January 6 through text, some of which were read aloud by Congressman Adam Schiff, a Democrat from California.
“On January 6, 2021, Vice President Mike Pence, as President of the Senate, should call out all electoral votes that he believes are unconstitutional as no electoral votes at all,” one lawmaker told Meadows in a text message.
During the riot, another member of Congress told Meadows, “The president needs to stop this ASAP,” the committee revealed. Schiff said Meadows received “dozens upon dozens of panicked messages” from lawmakers and others who were at the Capitol while the mob of Trump’s supporters breached the building, leading to the evacuation of House and Senate members and a pause in the counting of each state’s electoral votes.
On January 7, another member told Meadows, “Yesterday was a terrible day. We tried everything we could in our objection to the 6 states. I’m sorry nothing worked,” according to the committee.
One reporter, Jake Sherman of Punchbowl News, revealed his text messages to Meadows were among those made public by select committee investigators. Sherman wrote to Meadows on January 6 “Do something for us” and warned “We are under siege in the” Capitol building, according to a thread he shared.
“There’s an armed standoff at the house chamber door,” Sherman told Meadows, who served in the House before he was tapped for White House chief of staff. “We’re all helpless.”
Meadows told Fox News after the committee vote that the move was “disappointing but not surprising.”