Jan. 6 Panel to Move Forward With Contempt Against Meadows

WASHINGTON (AP) -
White House chief of staff Mark Meadows speaks with reporters outside the White House, Oct. 26, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection has “no choice” but to move forward with contempt charges against former Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows now that he is no longer complying with a subpoena, the panel’s chairman said Wednesday.

In a letter to Meadows’ attorney, Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., said that Meadows has already provided documents to the committee, including personal emails and texts about former President Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn his 2020 election defeat. Yet Meadows did not show up Wednesday for a scheduled deposition after his lawyer, George Terwilliger, told the panel that he was ending his cooperation.

Thompson noted in the letter that Meadows has also published a book, released this week, that discusses the Jan. 6 attack.

“That he would sell his telling of the facts of that day while denying a congressional committee the opportunity to ask him about the attack on our Capitol marks an historic and aggressive defiance of Congress,” Thompson said in a letter to Terwilliger.

The House has already voted to hold longtime Trump ally Steve Bannon in contempt after he defied a subpoena, and the Justice Department indicted Bannon on two counts.

Meadows’ decision to stop complying with the committee came after he had initially agreed to the deposition and after Terwilliger said the committee was open to allowing him to decline some questions based on the executive privilege claims that Trump has made in an ongoing court case.

Terwilliger wrote the committee this week, however, that a deposition had become “untenable” because the Jan. 6 panel “has no intention of respecting boundaries” around questions that Trump claims are off-limits. Terwilliger also said he learned over the weekend that the committee had issued a subpoena to a third-party communications provider that he said would include “intensely personal” information about Meadows.

“As a result of careful and deliberate consideration of these factors, we now must decline the opportunity to appear voluntarily for a deposition,” Terwilliger wrote in the letter.

In his response, Thompson confirmed the subpoenas to a third party but said they should not affect Meadows’ testimony.