Meadows reverses, won't agree to Jan. 6 panel deposition

Former Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows is refusing to sit for a deposition with the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, a reversal from the panel's announcement last week he would “soon appear for an initial deposition.” 

Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) and Vice Chair Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) confirmed in a statement Tuesday afternoon that Meadows has told the panel he does not plan on cooperating further with the investigation.

“Mark Meadows has informed the Select Committee that he does not intend to cooperate further with our investigation despite his apparent willingness to provide details about the facts and circumstances surrounding the January 6th attack, including conversations with President Trump, in the book he is now promoting and selling,” the lawmakers wrote.

They were referring to Meadows’ book “The Chief’s Chief,” which was released on Tuesday.

CNN reported earlier Tuesday that Meadows’s lawyer sent a letter to the committee informing congressional investigators of the decision and contending the panel was not “respecting boundaries concerning Executive Privilege.”

“We agreed to provide thousands of pages of responsive documents and Mr. Meadows was willing to appear voluntarily, not under compulsion of the Select Committee's subpoena to him, for a deposition to answer questions about non-privileged matters. Now actions by the Select Committee have made such an appearance untenable,” lawyer George J. Terwilliger III wrote in the letter obtained by CNN.

“In short, we now have every indication from the information supplied to us last Friday - upon which Mr. Meadows could expect to be questioned — that the Select Committee has no intention of respecting boundaries concerning Executive Privilege," he added.

The attorney said that “as a result of careful and deliberate consideration of these factors, we now must decline the opportunity to appear voluntarily for a deposition.”

He did, however, note that Meadows is still willing to answer written questions ”so that there might be both an orderly process and a clear record of questions and related assertions of privilege where appropriate.” 

The reversal stems from a series of “wide ranging subpoenas” the select committee issued this weekend targeting information from a third-party communications provider, according to Terwilliger’s letter.

The lawyer told Fox News, which first reported on Meadows’s refusal, that the committee issued at least one subpoena to a third party for the former chief of staff’s cellphone records, which he had intended to hand over to the panel voluntarily after first going through the content to screen for privileged material.

Meadows’s refusal to sit for a deposition with the committee comes after Chair Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) announced last week Meadows had been engaging with the panel through his attorney, had produced records and would soon sit for an initial deposition.

Former President Trump directed Meadows and other ex-aides to not cooperate with the committee, claiming that their testimony is protected by executive privilege. The committee, however, has asserted that executive privilege does not give former presidents the ability to limit congressional access to records.

Terwilliger last week said he and his client were continuing to work with the panel “to see if we can reach an accommodation that does not require Mr. Meadows to waive Executive Privilege or to forfeit the long-standing position that senior White House aides cannot be compelled to testify before Congress.”

Thompson and Cheney on Tuesday said that if Meadows fails to appear for his scheduled deposition on Wednesday, the panel will move forward with proceedings to hold the former chief of staff in criminal 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,” the lawmakers said.

They said the panel has “numerous questions” for Meadows about records he gave to the committee.

The lawmakers also said the congressional investigators have to “hear from him about voluminous official records stored in his personal phone and email accounts,” which were required to be given to the panel from the National Archives in accordance with the Presidential Records Act.

Meadows is a central figure in the select committee's investigation, having worked alongside Trump in the days leading up to the Jan. 6 attack. He also appears to have been deeply involved in the former president’s efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.

Post a Comment

Previous Post Next Post