Jan. 6 panel demands Meadows testify Friday or risk contempt charge

The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riot is demanding former Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows testify before the panel on Friday or risk potential contempt charges.

The committee subpoenaed Meadows and other former Trump administration officials in September for documents and testimony.

The letter indicates a remarkable turnaround from just days ago, when Meadows was said to still be “engaging” with the committee.

Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), chairman of the panel, said in a letter to Meadows’s attorney on Thursday that “there is no valid legal basis for Mr. Meadows’s continued resistance to the Select Committee’s subpoena.”

“As such, the Select Committee expects Mr. Meadows to produce all responsive documents and appear for deposition testimony tomorrow, November 12, 2021, at 10:00 a.m. If there are specific questions during that deposition that you believe raise legitimate privilege issues, Mr. Meadows should state them at that time on the record for the Select Committee’s consideration and possible judicial review,” Thompson said.

The loss of patience with Meadows follows a string of subpoenas issued earlier this week to some of his closest associates and those he supervised. That list includes his former deputy Christopher Liddell and senior adviser Ben Williamson.

Those subpoenas indicated an interest in a wide variety of Meadow’s activities leading up to Jan. 6, including White House pressure on Georgia, its efforts to get the Department of Justice involved in fighting Trump’s election battle and his involvement with any planning to fight certification of election results in Congress.

If Meadows fails to give the documentation or appear for the deposition, Johnson warned that the panel will view it as “willful non-compliance,” adding it “would force the Select Committee to consider invoking the contempt of Congress procedures … as well as the possibility of having a civil action to enforce the subpoena” against Meadows.

The committee has already taken such an action against one-time White House strategist Stephen Bannon, who was subpoenaed alongside Meadows. Bannon refused to appear for his deposition and was ultimately censured by the House. The Justice Department has not yet acted on the chamber’s recommendation for criminal charges.

The letter came as Meadow’s lawyer hinted at legal action after the White House said it would not shield documents the committee requested related to Meadows. 

“The President believes that the constitutional protections of executive privilege should not be used to shield information reflecting an effort to subvert the Constitution itself, and indeed believes that such an assertion in this circumstance would be at odds with the principles that underlie the privilege,” White House deputy counsel Jonathan Su said in a letter to George Terwilliger, Meadow’s attorney.

Former President Trump has urged those who were close to him in the White House to claim executive privilege to fight back against subpoenas from the committee, with the panel saying executive privilege no longer applies since Trump is out of office. 

But the panel has argued such claims are invalid, as only current presidents can wield executive privilege and Trump is no longer in office.

Terwilliger maintained that argument Friday, suggesting in a statement that Meadows would not comply with the committee’s demands until legal disputes were resolved.

“Contrary to decades of consistent bipartisan opinions from the Justice Department that senior aides cannot be compelled by Congress to give testimony, this is the first president to make no effort whatsoever to protect presidential communications from being the subject of compelled testimony,” Terwilliger wrote.

“Mr. Meadows remains under the instruction of former President Trump to respect longstanding principles of executive privilege. It now appears the courts will have to resolve this conflict,” he added. 

The threat of charges against Meadows comes after he was originally scheduled for deposition on Oct. 15.

— Updated at 9:31 p.m.

Tags Bennie Thompson Christopher Liddell Donald Trump Executive privilege Mark Meadows Steve Bannon Subpoena United States House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack

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