Mark Meadows, former President Donald Trump’s chief of staff and former Western North Carolina congressman, said he knew it was illegal for Vice President Mike Pence to stop the election certification, despite the president pushing Pence to do so and inflaming a mob that chanted for the vice president’s death.
That was according to the special Jan. 6 congressional committee’s third day of testimony on June 16 that yielded new information on Meadows’ role before and during the insurrection.
Speaking under oath in a prerecorded video, former Pence Chief of Staff Marc Short said Meadows understood Pence’s role was only ceremonial, though Meadows had shifted positions multiple times.
“I think Mark had told so many people so many different things,” Short said.
Meadows Chief of Staff Ben Williamson, also appearing in a prerecorded video, said Meadows went to talk to Trump shortly before the president’s tweet that led to rioters calling for Pence’s lynching.
Western Carolina University political science professor Todd Collins said Meadows’ actions could have been an attempt to navigate between hardline conspiracy theorists and Republicans calling for an end to false election fraud claims and the illegal plot to stop the certification.
“He may have been ‘reading the room’ about how to react or perhaps weighing every option to stay in power,” Collins said.
Williamson, who still serves as Meadows spokesperson, responded to June 17 emailed Citizen-Times questions, saying he and Meadows declined to comment. Questions included whether Meadows would change his mind and testify before the committee whose next hearing is June 21 and what he said to the president shortly before Trump’s inflammatory tweet.
Meadows was elected in 2012 to the 11th District seat covering most of WNC and part of Asheville. He resigned in 2020 to work as Trump’s top aide. During and after the 2020 election, he frequently raised the prospect of voter fraud, casting doubt on Joe Biden’s win. But Meadows is now facing a North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation election fraud probe after records showed him voting using the address of a Macon County mobile home where he appears never to have stayed.