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Meadows on track for contempt of Congress charges

Standoff ensues after former White House chief of staff says he will not show for deposition

Mark Meadows, former White House chief of staff for Trump, could soon be held in contempt of Congress.
Mark Meadows, former White House chief of staff for Trump, could soon be held in contempt of Congress. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows will be the third Trump ally to be subject to a contempt of Congress charge from the Jan. 6 select panel if he refuses to show for a deposition Wednesday. 

Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., and Vice Chair Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., said Meadows told them he does not plan to cooperate with the committee’s inquiry. In turn, they warned that if he doesn’t sit for the scheduled deposition, they will have no choice but to recommend the House hold him in contempt for noncompliance with a congressional subpoena.

“Tomorrow’s deposition, which was scheduled at Mr. Meadows’s request, will go forward as planned,” Cheney and Thompson said in a statement Tuesday. “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.” Meadows, a North Carolina Republican, served in the House from 2013 until his resignation to take the White House job on March 30, 2020.

The announcement comes a week after the panel said Meadows — who served as chief of staff for President Donald Trump leading up to and on Jan. 6 — was making efforts to cooperate with the panel’s inquiry. They said Meadows produced records to the committee and was willing to testify. Thompson previously told CNN the panel obtained around 6,000 emails from Meadows.

Now the committee says 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 book referred to is “The Chief’s Chief,” which was released Tuesday.

The panel leaders also said they have “numerous questions” for Meadows concerning the documents he has turned over with no claim of executive privilege, including real-time communications with many people on Jan. 6.

“We also need to hear from him 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,” Cheney and Thompson said.

Other depositions

On Dec. 1, the committee recommended holding former Trump Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark in contempt of Congress for not producing documents and testimony. He did not answer “pertinent questions” at his Nov. 5 deposition, according to the panel. But that process was halted from going to the full House for a vote that would have sent the matter to the Department of Justice for prosecution.

Instead, Clark and the committee came to an agreement after his attorney told the panel he would be claiming Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination. That deposition, in which Clark would be allowed to assert that privilege on a case by case basis, was scheduled for Dec. 4 but delayed to Dec. 16 because of a medical condition, according to the committee.

Stephen Bannon, a Trump ally who was not working in the administration, was indicted on two counts of contempt of Congress in November for refusing to produce records and sit for a deposition. His trial is scheduled for July 18.

Contempt of Congress is a misdemeanor crime that carries a maximum of one year in jail and a fine per count. Even if an individual is convicted, that doesn’t ensure the information sought by the committee will be provided.

Meadows’ lawyer, George Terwilliger III, did not respond to a request for comment.

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