An attorney who represents former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows has stated that his client is planning on defying a subpoena from the House committee that is looking into the events that transpired on Jan. 6 of this year, which is a move the could result in a vote to hold him in contempt.
The Jan. 6 panel set a deadline of Friday for Meadows to comply with the subpoena, which was issued back in September. The subpoena requires Meadows to show up for a deposition, however, his attorney stated that his client has a “sharp legal dispute” with the committee because former President Donald Trump has claimed executive privilege over the testimony.
“Legal disputes are appropriately resolved by courts,” said Meadows’ lawyer, George Terwilliger, went on to say in a statement released Friday morning. “It would be irresponsible for Mr. Meadows to prematurely resolve that dispute by voluntarily waiving privileges that are at the heart of those legal issues.”
Meadows’ refusal to comply comes amid escalating legal battles between the committee and Trump, who has claimed privilege over documents and interviews the lawmakers are demanding.
As the sitting president, Joe Biden has so far waived most of Trump’s assertions of privilege over documents, and the White House said in a letter on Thursday that Biden would also waive any privilege that would prevent Meadows from cooperating with the committee. U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan has also rejected Trump’s arguments, noting in one ruling this week that “Presidents are not kings, and Plaintiff is not President.”
The panel’s proceedings and attempts to gather information have been delayed as Trump appealed Chutkan’s rulings and the House fights for the information in court. On Thursday, a federal appeals court temporarily blocked the release of some of the White House records the panel is seeking, giving that court time to consider Trump’s arguments.
Still, the House panel is continuing its work, and lawmakers have already interviewed more than 150 witnesses so far as they attempt to build the most comprehensive record yet of how a violent mob of Trump’s supporters broke into the Capitol that day and temporarily halted the certification of Biden’s victory.
“The committee has subpoenaed almost three dozen people, including former White House staffers, Trump allies who strategized about how to overturn his defeat, and people who organized the giant rally on the National Mall the morning of Jan. 6. While some, like Meadows and former White House aide Steve Bannon, have balked, others have spoken to the panel and provided documents,” the report noted.
“Meadows, a former GOP congressman from North Carolina, is a key witness for the panel. He was Trump’s top aide in the time between Trump’s loss in the November election and the incidents at the Capitol, and was one of several people who pressured state officials to try and overturn the results. He was also by Trump’s side during much of the time, and he could provide information about what the former president was saying and doing during the attack,” it said.
“You were the president’s chief of staff and have critical information regarding many elements of our inquiry,” the committee’s chairman, Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., stated in a letter that accompanied the Sept. 23 subpoena to Meadows. “It appears you were with or in the vicinity of President Trump on Jan. 6, had communications with the president and others on January 6 regarding events at the Capitol and are a witness regarding activities of that day.”
Thompson reiterated the potential consequences that Thompson might face if he fails to appear at the deposition set to take place Friday, noting that doing so will be looked at as “willful non-compliance,” which results in the panel considering contempt charges.
This course of action would make Meadows the second of the panel’s witnesses to be held in contempt following the House vote to hold Steve Bannon in contempt back in October.
Whether or not either of the two men will face actual consequences for these actions will be decided by the Justice Department, which thus far has not stated whether it will prosecute Bannon’s case.
The House panel has been applying pressure to the DOJ to take that action, but Attorney General Merrick Garland has made it very clear that his attorneys will be the ones making an independent decision.