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U.S. House Jan. 6 probe tells Meadows it has ‘no choice’ but to seek contempt charge

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows speaks to reporters following a television interview, outside the White House in Washington, U.S. October 21, 2020.
REUTERS/Al Drago

Donald Trump’s former chief of staff, Mark Meadows, could become the third person to face a criminal contempt charge for refusing to cooperate with the U.S. House of Representatives panel probing the deadly Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, the committee warned.

Representative Bennie Thompson, chairman of the House of Representatives Select Committee, said in a letter to Meadows’ attorney, George Terwilliger, that Meadows – a former House member – had failed to cooperate with the panel.

“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 wrote in the letter, which was released by the committee.

Terwilliger did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The panel said on Tuesday that Meadows had decided not to cooperate and that it was prepared to pursue contempt of Congress charges against him for failing to comply with its requests for information.

The Justice Department, at the House’s request, has already brought similar charges against Trump’s former chief strategist, Steve Bannon, and the House is considering similar action against former Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark.

Longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone told the committee that he would not testify, citing his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, his lawyer said.

SOME DOCUMENTS PROVIDED

Meadows told the committee last week that he would hand over some documents and appear for a deposition. He changed his mind on Tuesday, saying he would not appear on Wednesday.

Thompson said some documents have been handed over but that Terwilliger has also claimed that hundreds of emails and text messages are subject to privilege.

On Jan. 6, Trump supporters stormed the Capitol in a bid to prevent formal congressional certification of his 2020 election loss to Democratic President Joe Biden. Before the riot, Trump repeated his false claims that the election was stolen from him through widespread voting fraud.

Thompson said in his letter that documents it has received from Meadows’ attorney include communications with organizers of that rally and communications with a member of Congress about the possibility of replacing some state electors with hand-picked candidates.

Trump has urged associates not to cooperate with the committee, calling the Democratic-led investigation politically motivated and arguing that his communications are protected by executive privilege. Many legal experts, however, have said that legal principle does not apply to former presidents.

Thompson has noted that even as the committee and Trump’s attorneys battle in court over executive privilege issues, Meadows revealed details about circumstances surrounding the Jan. 6 attack, including conversations with Trump, in a new book Meadows is currently promoting.

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