National Security

Meadows ‘between a rock and a hard space’ with Trump, Jan. 6 panel

Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said Monday that the former president’s battle to block cooperation with Jan. 6 investigators has put him “between a rock and a hard space” as he risks potential criminal charges for defying a congressional subpoena.

Meadows made the comments to former President Trump’s economic guru and current Fox Business host Larry Kudlow the same day that Stephen Bannon, another former Trump White House aide, surrendered himself to federal authorities after being indicted for failing to comply with his own House subpoena.

Trump has sought to claim executive privilege to block his former aides from releasing documents or giving testimony to the select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. 

“He’s exerted, and rightfully so, his executive privilege. And it’s not up to me to waive it. And so it’s got me between a rock and a hard space,” Meadows said.

The committee has argued Trump has no ability to claim such a privilege because the ability to withhold documents and testimony from Congress rests only with the sitting president.

Meadows failed to appear for a deposition on Friday after more than a month of “engaging” with the committee.

Like Bannon, he now faces potential criminal charges, a process that would start with the committee teeing up a vote before the full House to refer him to the Department of Justice for criminal prosecution. 

Bannon was indicted by a federal grand jury Friday and is now facing up to two years in prison and a $200,000 fine for two counts of contempt of Congress. 

Meadows, who has remained largely quiet since being subpoenaed, seemed to appear hopeful to reach an “accommodation” with the committee.

“You and I both know that no one in the West Wing had any knowledge that anything like what happened on Jan. 6 was going to happen,” he told Kudlow.

“And I can say that without getting into the back-and-forth of private conversations. And I’m — I want to make sure that I refrain from commenting too much on the facts of the matter. These are complex legal matters that I’m going to let the attorneys hopefully work out in a spirit of accommodation.”

Meadows, however, isn’t just being subpoenaed for any knowledge he might have about a potential attack on the Capitol.

His subpoenas, as well as others for his close associates, show an interest in his involvement in Trump’s pressure campaign to get the Department of Justice to intervene in the election, his specific actions in Georgia as Trump pressured the secretary of state there to “find” more votes and his coordination with various rally planners ahead of Jan. 6.

A statement from the House committee after Meadows failed to show said he has refused to even indicate whether he used a personal cell phone on Jan. 6 and how lawmakers might retrieve his text messages.

It also noted that a contempt report prepared for the House would involve releasing Meadow’s full subpoena, indicating details and lines of inquiry not yet known.

“Mr. Meadows’s actions today—choosing to defy the law—will force the Select Committee to consider pursuing contempt or other proceedings to enforce the subpoena. If his defiance persists and that process moves ahead, the record will reveal the wide range of matters the Select Committee wished to discuss with Mr. Meadows until his decision to hide behind the former President’s spurious claims of privilege,” Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) said Friday.

Tags Bennie Thompson Capitol breach Donald Trump Jan. 6 Committee Larry Kudlow Mark Meadows Steve Bannon

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