Mark Meadows, Facing Contempt Charge, Files Lawsuit Against January 6 Select Committee
Former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows filed a lawsuit against the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol in federal court on Wednesday hours after announcing that he will not cooperate with the probe.
Facing a referral by the bipartisan panel to the Department of Justice for criminal contempt of Congress, Meadows alleges in his complaint that the subpoenas were “overly broad and unduly burdensome” and that the Committee “lacks lawful authority to seek and to obtain” his personal communications with ex-President Donald Trump and other officials within the Trump Administration who had foreknowledge of the attack.
“The Select Committee acts absent any valid legislative power and threatens to violate longstanding principles of executive privilege and immunity that are of constitutional origin and dimension,” Meadows’s attorney George P. Terwilliger III wrote in the complaint.
“Mr. Meadows, a witness, has been put in the untenable position of choosing between conflicting privilege claims that are of constitutional origin and dimension and having to either risk enforcement of the subpoena issued to him, not merely by the House of Representatives, but through actions by the Executive and Judicial Branches, or, alternatively, unilaterally abandoning the former president’s claims of privileges and immunities. Thus, Mr. Meadows turns to the courts to say what the law is,” the suit says.
“This information has no bearing on any contemplated constitutional legislation. It is relevant only to serve the Select Committee’s stated purpose of engaging in ad-hoc law enforcement and its unstated purpose of antagonizing its political adversary,” Meadows states in his complaint.
Lawmakers, however, have flatly rejected Meadows’s assertions and vowed to use every measure at their disposal to get him to talk.
“We look forward to litigating that,” Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyoming), one of two Republicans serving on the Committee, told CNN. “The committee has received a number of extremely interesting, non-privileged documents from Mr. Meadows. These include text messages and emails from his private cell phone and private email account. He’s produced these documents, they are not privileged. They include documents that are directly related to what President Trump should have been doing on January 6 during the attack, and now he is refusing to appear to answer questions about those non-privileged documents.”
Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Mississippi) confirmed in a statement that the Committee intends to hold Meadows in contempt.
“I’m not a lawyer or judge and we’ll see what happens, but we have every intention to move forward with the contempt citation,” he said.
Thompson rejected Meadows’s claim that the investigation is illegitimate.
“Well, you know, in this town, every lawyer has at least one opinion. We have authority because we were created by the House of Representatives,” Thompson said, adding that Meadows’s lawsuit is nothing more than a stalling tactic.
Ranking Committee member Adam Schiff (D-California) agreed, and said that “Meadows’s lawsuit “certainly strikes me as another fruitless effort to impede the work of the committee.”
The other Committee Republican, Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, also said that it “sounds like he’s trying to delay.”