Former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows could face contempt charges after defying a congressional subpoena from the House committee investigating the deadly January 6 Capitol riot, CNN reports.
Meadows was scheduled to give a deposition on Friday but his attorney issued a statement vowing that the former top Trump aide would not cooperate until the courts decide on the former president's executive privilege claims. Trump has filed a lawsuit asserting that he retains executive privilege as a former president even though sitting President Joe Biden refused to assert privilege over the documents requested by the committee. A federal judge this week rejected Trump's lawsuit but he has appealed it.
"The issues concern whether Mr. Meadows can be compelled to testify and whether, even if he could, that he could be forced to answer questions that involve privileged communications," Meadow's lawyer said. "Legal disputes are appropriately resolved by courts. It would be irresponsible for Mr. Meadows to prematurely resolve that dispute by voluntarily waiving privileges that are at the heart of those legal issues."
"No matter how important the subject matter of the committee's work, decades of litigation over Executive Privilege shows how critically important it is for a president to have access to advice and counsel without fear that political opponents in Congress will later be able to pull away the shield of confidentiality that protects candor in those communications,” he added.
White House rejects Meadows' argument:
The White House ahead of the scheduled deposition warned Meadows that Biden has already asserted that he won't invoke executive privilege on certain information.
White House Deputy Counsel Jonathan Su reiterated Biden's decision citing "the unique and extraordinary circumstances where Congress is investigating an effort to obstruct the lawful transfer of power under our Constitution."
Biden, Su wrote, has determined that privilege won't apply to subjects including "events within the White House on or about January 6, 2021; attempts to use the Department of Justice to advance a false narrative that the 2020 election was tainted by widespread fraud; and other efforts to alter election results or obstruct the transfer of power."
Committee may pursue criminal charge:
"The Select Committee will view Mr. Meadows's failure to appear at the deposition, and to produce responsive documents or a privilege log indicating the specific basis for withholding any documents you believe are protected by privilege, as willful non-compliance," Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson said Thursday.
"Such willful noncompliance with the subpoena would force the Select Committee to consider invoking the contempt of Congress procedures ... which could result in a referral from the House of Representatives to the Department of Justice for criminal charges — as well as the possibility of having a civil action to enforce the subpoena brought against Mr. Meadows in his personal capacity,” he added.