WASHINGTON – Mark Meadows, a White House chief of staff for former President Donald Trump, defied a House committee’s subpoena Friday for documents and testimony about the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol and his spurring investigations of alleged election fraud.
Meadows became the latest in a string of former administration officials and campaign advisers refusing to cooperate with the investigation. Trump has filed a lawsuit against a subpoena to his documents administration in federal appels court. A criminal contempt charge against Trump political strategist Steve Bannon is being considered by the Justice Department.
George Terwilliger was a Meadows lawyer who said Friday that the ex-chief of staff would not cooperate with the committee until Trump’s legal battle regarding executive privilege claims has been resolved.
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“Our correspondence over the last few weeks shows a sharp legal dispute with the committee,” Terwilliger said. “It would have been irresponsible of Mr. Meadows, to preemptively resolve that dispute by voluntary waiving privileges that lie at the core of those legal questions.”
Under threat of criminal prosecution, the committee had given him a Friday deadline to present for his deposition.
“Mr. Meadows must comply with this subpoena, absent any applicable immunity or valid assertions of a Constitutionally based privilege,” said the chairman. Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., wroteThursday to Terwilliger
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The committee subpoenaed Meadows on Sept. 23 for his communications with Trump on Jan. 6 and with organizers of a rally where the president spoke before a mob attacked the Capitol.
The committee also seeks information about Meadows contacting the Justice Department requesting investigations into election fraud in several states and encouraging several state officials to investigate allegations of election fraud. For issues like lack of standing and merit, more than 60 election suits were dropped.
Terwilliger addressed a note to the committee on Thursday, indicating that Meadows feels “duty bound”, to ignore the subpoena.
Terwilliger had argued in calls and letters to the committee Oct. 7 that Meadows “is immune from compelled congressional testimony on matters relating to his official responsibilities.”
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Thompson said that the waiver by President Joe Biden of executive privilege in Meadows’ and other cases “eviscerates any plausible claim to testimonial immunity.”
Trump has encouraged former advisors and aides not to submit to the committee in order to maintain confidential communications.
On Tuesday, a District Court judge declared that the documents can be made public. But Trump appealed, arguing that future presidents wouldn’t receive candid advice if it doesn’t remain confidential.
The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals has appointed a three-judge panel. Circuit Court of Appeals will hear arguments on Nov. 30, regarding whether the Committee should be prevented from receiving documents from National Archives and Records Administration. This is under a claim of executive confidentiality.
The Justice Department is weighing criminal contempt charges against Bannon, for defying his subpoena. The last time such charges were successfully prosecuted was during the Watergate scandal nearly 50 years ago.
Jeffrey Clark (a former Justice Department official, is charged with trying to reverse the 2020 election). He was present at a meeting of the committee on Nov. 5. But he refused to give evidence. Thompson called this refusal inacceptable.
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