POLITICO – Mark Meadows, facing an imminent threat of criminal contempt of Congress charges, is suing Speaker Nancy Pelosi and members of the Jan. 6 select panel.
The former White House chief of staff has filed legal action against Pelosi, according to court records. As the Jan. 6 select panel prepares to take action against him, Meadows has claimed he can’t discuss matters that could be covered by executive privilege.
But the panel has rejected that claim, noting that President Joe Biden has not asserted privilege to block Meadows’ testimony.
A spokesperson for the Jan. 6 panel declined to comment.
Meadows suing Pelosi, Jan. 6 committee
By Harper Neidig • December 8, 2021
Former Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows is suing Speaker Nancy Pelosi
(D-Calif.) and the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol as
he faces a likely contempt referral for refusing to cooperate with the panel.
In a civil complaint filed Wednesday afternoon, Meadows’s lawyers said the select
committee does not have the authority to issue the subpoenas directed at him or obtain
his phone records from a third party and that President Biden’s refusal to assert executive
privilege opens constitutional questions that should be decided through legal action.
“As a result, Mr. Meadows, a witness, has been put in the untenable position of choosing
between conflicting privilege claims that are of constitutional origin and dimension and
having to either risk enforcement of the subpoena issued to him, not merely by the House
of Representatives, but through actions by the Executive and Judicial Branches, or,
alternatively, unilaterally abandoning the former president’s claims of privileges and
immunities,” the complaint reads. “Thus, Mr. Meadows turns to the courts to say what the
The lawsuit says Meadows believed the committee would “act in good faith” until he
learned over the weekend the lawmakers had subpoenaed Verizon for his personal phone
records. The telecommunications company told Meadows in a letter dated Saturday that it
would comply with the committee’s subpoena by Dec. 15 unless a court ordered
Spokespeople for Pelosi and the select committee did not immediately respond when
asked for comment.
Meadows’s attorney said on Tuesday that his client would not be appearing for an
interview that was scheduled for Wednesday, reversing after a tentative agreement was
announced last week for Trump’s top White House aide to provide records and testimony
to the panel.
The select committee’s chairman, Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), said on Tuesday that
the panel would vote in favor of holding his former House colleague in contempt if he
didn’t appear for the interview.
“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 in a joint statement
Tuesday with the committee’s vice chairwoman, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.).
Thompson said that Meadows needs to tell the committee “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.”
CNN reported on Tuesday that the select committee had issued subpoenas for phone
records belonging to more than 100 people, Meadows included.
Meadows’ lawsuit argues that the select committee is not a legitimate legislative body and
therefore its subpoenas are invalid and unenforceable. The former White House official
also argues that the committee is demanding information and records that are protected
by Trump’s claims of executive privilege.
“The Select Committee’s subpoena to Mr. Meadows unlawfully seeks information covered
by executive privilege and improperly attempts to compel testimony by a senior Executive
Branch official,” the lawsuit reads. “During his time as Chief of Staff, Mr. Meadows was
among the most senior Executive Branch officials and his communications and
deliberations were covered by executive privilege.”
The question of how much authority a former president has to claim executive privilege is
expected to be addressed by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals when it rules on Trump’s
lawsuit seeking to block the National Archives from turning over hundreds of pages of his
administration’s records to the select committee. A three-judge panel for the circuit court
heard oral arguments in that case late last month, and however it rules will likely weigh
heavily in Meadows’s lawsuit.
Updated at 6:16 p.m.