Speeches and Statements

Murphy Committee Speech on House Resolution Recommending Mark Meadows Be Held in Contempt of Congress

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Washington, December 13, 2021 | comments

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

In a few moments, I will vote to recommend that the House find former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows in contempt of Congress for failing to comply with our committee’s subpoena for documents and testimony related to the January 6th attack.

Mr. Meadows was a central participant in the events that culminated in this assault on our Capitol, our country, and our core democratic values.  

To create the most accurate account of what occurred, why it occurred, and what specific steps we can take to prevent it from occurring again, our committee needs to hear from Mr. Meadows.     

The Supreme Court once observed that a subpoena is not “an invitation to a game of hare and hounds, in which the witness must testify only if cornered at the end of the chase.”

Yet, as detailed in the underlying report, it is clear to any reasonable observer that Mr. Meadows has treated this committee’s request for relevant information as if it were a game. 

To read the record of how Mr. Meadows has responded to our subpoena, issued in late September, is to come away exhausted, exasperated, and enraged.  Any regular citizen who flouted a congressional or court subpoena like Mr. Meadows has would face serious legal consequences—and rightly so.

This is not a witness who has acted in good faith, generally willing to tell his side of the story, while declining to disclose certain information based on a clear and colorable assertion of legal privilege.     

To the contrary, Mr. Meadows initially delayed, resisted, made unreasonable legal arguments, failed to produce documents in a timely fashion, and refused to appear for a scheduled deposition.  Then he had an apparent change of heart and pledged his cooperation, leading to the production of about 9,000 emails and text messages.  Then he reversed course yet again, categorically refusing to be deposed about what those documents reveal.

In summary, Mr. Meadows’ tactics have wasted the committee’s time and taxpayer-funded resources, left us with incomplete and inadequate information about what he did and what he knows, and hindered our effort to find the truth. 

It bears emphasis that the documents Mr. Meadows ultimately turned over raise as many questions as they answer.

For example, the documents confirm that Mr. Meadows used personal gmail accounts and a personal cellular phone to conduct official business and to send communications related to January 6th, and that he also used Signal, the private messenger application.

Had Mr. Meadows been deposed under oath, the committee would have asked him about his handling of official government records, a topic that is not subject to any conceivable legal privilege.  This is a critical line of inquiry because we need to know if Mr. Meadows did not properly preserve all of his official emails, texts, and messages and provide them to the National Archives, as required by federal law. 

After all, our committee has requested—and will hopefully soon receive—a wide range of Trump administration records from the National Archives.  We need to know whether the universe of records in the Archives’ possession is complete and comprehensive.  Understanding Mr. Meadows’ compliance with federal recordkeeping laws will help ensure that our committee ultimately receives all of the relevant documents we are entitled to review as part of our fact-finding mission.

As a result of his actions and inaction, Mr. Meadows is clearly in contempt of Congress and should be referred to the Department of Justice for criminal prosecution.

I yield back.

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