Mark Meadows sues Nancy Pelosi as contempt vote looms

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Former Trump White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows filed a lawsuit Wednesday seeking to invalidate subpoenas issued by the House select committee examining the Jan. 6 Capitol riot after the panel’s chair informed Meadows’ attorney it would move forward with contempt proceedings.

The Meadows complaint, first reported by Politico, names Pelosi and the committee’s nine members as defendants, along with the committee itself.

The suit describes the subpoenas for documents and testimony issued to Meadows in September as “overly broad and unduly burdensome”.

“The Select Committee acts absent any valid legislative power and threatens to violate longstanding principles of executive privilege and immunity that are of constitutional origin and dimension,” the filing says. “Without intervention by this Court, Mr. Meadows faces the harm of both being illegally coerced into violating the Constitution and having a third party involuntarily violate Mr. Meadows rights and the requirements of relevant laws governing records of electronic communications.”

Former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows claims the committee’s subpoenas are “overly broad.”
Getty Images

The key issue in the filing is the committee’s bid to obtain cell phone records from Meadows and “a third-party telecommunications company,” records which Meadows argues the panel “lacks lawful authority to seek and to obtain.”

In a Tuesday letter to Meadows’ attorney George Terwilliger, committee chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) said the committee had been “left with no choice” but to vote on whether to hold Meadows in contempt after he informed the committee he would no longer assist their investigation while former President Donald Trump’s claims of executive privilege are being heard by the courts. 

“[T]he Select Committee has tried repeatedly to identify with specificity the areas of inquiry that Mr. Meadows believes are protected by a claim of executive privilege,” Thompson wrote to Terwilliger, “but neither you nor Mr. Meadows has meaningfully provided that information.”

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi plans to go forward with a full House vote of contempt for Mark Meadows.
EPA

The chair added that there was “no legitimate legal basis for Mr. Meadows to refuse to cooperate with the Select Committee and answer questions”.

Meadows, a former Republican House member from North Carolina, was scheduled to give a deposition Wednesday, but did not appear.

“The Select Committee is left with no choice but to advance contempt proceedings and recommend that the body in which Mr. Meadows once served refer him for criminal prosecution,” Thompson concluded. 

Jan. 6th committee
Committee chair Bennie Thompson says there is “no legal basis” for Mark Meadows to refuse to cooperate with the investigation.
AP

A committee vote to refer a contempt report against Meadows to the full House could take place as soon as Friday.

Trump has argued that records of his conversations with Meadows and others before, during and after the riot are protected by executive privilege. The Biden administration has declined to assert executive privilege over those materials. The committee has argued that Biden’s stance carries greater weight, since he is the current president, and the courts have so far found in favor of that argument.

Former President Donald Trump and Mark Meadows
Former President Donald Trump claims his communications with Chief of Staff Mark Meadows are protected by executive privilege.
REUTERS

In his lawsuit, Meadows argued he had 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.

“Thus, Mr. Meadows turns to the courts to say what the law is.”

Meadows would be the third person to be the subject of a contempt report by the committee.

Former Trump ally Steve Bannon has been charged with two counts of contempt of Congress after he refused to produce documents or give testimony. 

The panel also voted last week to recommend that Congress hold former Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark in contempt after he declined to answer the panel’s questions. However, the House has not yet voted on whether to refer the matter to the Department of Justice.

Jan 6th riots
The Biden administration decided not to grant executive privilege to his predecessor due to the “unique and extraordinary” circumstances of the Jan. 6 riots.
James Keivom

Earlier Wednesday, White House deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the Biden administration’s position on executive privilege claims by Trump and his associates was “clear.”

“The decision [not to assert privilege] was made in recognition of these unique and extraordinary circumstances where Congress is investigating an effort to obstruct the lawful transfer of power under our Constitution,” she told reporters aboard Air Force One. “The President has full faith in the January 6th select committee’s ability to carry out that work.”

Steve Bannon
Former Trump advisor Steve Bannon has been charged with two counts of contempt of Congress.
ZUMAPRESS.com

The committee had no immediate response to the Meadows lawsuit. Terwilliger did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Post.

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