Mark Meadows Refusing To Cooperate With January 6 Committee, Facing Criminal Contempt Charges
Former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows has changed his mind and will no longer cooperate with the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol.
On Tuesday, Meadows’s attorney, George P. Terwilliger III, sent a letter to the Committee reaffirming the former Republican congressman’s prior claim that his communications with ex-President Donald Trump and other actors involved with the deadly attack are shielded by executive privilege. Terwilliger also accused the Committee of acting unfairly.
“As a result of careful and deliberate consideration of these factors, we now must decline the opportunity to appear voluntarily for a deposition. It is well-established that Congress’s subpoena authority is limited to the pursuit of a legitimate legislative purpose. Congress has no authority to conduct law enforcement investigations or free-standing ‘fact-finding’ missions. Even where there is a legislative purpose, requests that implicate the Separation of Powers by targeting current or former Executive officials must be narrowly tailored. Yet again, with the breadth of its subpoenas and its pugnacious approach, the Select Committee has made clear that it does not intend to respect these important constitutional limits,” Terwilliger wrote.
“Meadows proudly served as Chief of Staff to President Trump and in that role assumed responsibility to protect Executive Privilege during and after his tenure. He assumed that responsibility not for his own benefit but for the benefit of all those who will serve after him, including future presidents. His appreciation for our constitutional system and for the Separation of Powers dictates that he cannot voluntarily appear under these circumstances,” Terwilliger continued. “Nonetheless, as we have before, we reiterate our willingness to consider an interrogatory process of Select Committee written questions and answers from Mr. Meadows so that there might be both an orderly process and a clear record of questions and related assertions of privilege where appropriate.”
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In response, the Committee said that it needs to hear from Meadows “about voluminous official records stored in his personal phone and email accounts, which were required to be turned over to the National Archives in accordance with the Presidential Records Act. ”
Committee Chair Bennie Thompson (D-Mississippi) told CNN that he and his colleagues will still hold its scheduled hearing on Wednesday and that the Committee is weighing its options with how to deal with Meadows, including holding him in contempt.
“Tomorrow’s deposition, which was scheduled at Mr. Meadows’s request, will go forward as planned. If indeed Mr. Meadows refuses to appear, the Select Committee will be left no choice but to advance contempt proceedings and recommend that the body in which Mr. Meadows once served refer him for criminal prosecution,” Thompson said. “Obviously, we had hoped Mr. Meadows would continue to work with the committee. But obviously based on his lawyer’s letter today and his plan to not show up for the deposition, that creates a different dynamic. As you know, we were prepared to go with contempt earlier, but we withheld it based on what we thought was an agreement that we’d work together. That has not been the case. So obviously, we will move forward with it.”
But Thompson also said that there are a number of possible solutions to get Meadows to talk, including offering him immunity from prosecution from crimes in which he may have participated.
“I think we’re interested in getting the information. I think we will still want Mr. Meadows to cooperate. So we will look at all of our options at this point,” Thompson said.
On Wednesday, the bipartisan panel announced that it has “no choice” but to proceed with referring Meadows to the Department of Justice for criminal contempt of Congress.
“The Select Committee is left with no choice but to advance contempt proceedings and recommend that the body in which Mr. Meadows once served refer him for criminal prosecution,” Thompson said.
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