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Meadows Sues Jan. 6 Panel              12/09 06:19

   

   WASHINGTON (AP) -- Former Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows on 
Wednesday sued the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol 
insurrection as the chairman of the panel pledged to move forward with contempt 
charges against him for defying a subpoena.

   The dueling actions laid bare simmering tensions between the committee and 
Meadows, seen by lawmakers on the panel as a pivotal player in their 
investigation, and reflected a remarkable turnabout from last week, when 
Meadows' lawyer had declared his intention of cooperating with the committee on 
certain areas of their inquiry.

   Meadows' lawsuit, filed in federal court in Washington, asks a judge to 
invalidate two subpoenas that he says are "overly broad and unduly burdensome." 
It accuses the committee of overreaching by issuing a subpoena to Verizon for 
his cell phone records.

   "Allowing an entirely partisan select committee of Congress to subpoena the 
personal cell phone data of executive officials would work a massive chilling 
of current and future Executive Branch officials' associational and free speech 
rights," the lawsuit states.

   The complaint was filed hours after Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson, the 
committee chairman, declared he had "no choice" but to proceed with contempt 
charges against Meadows, who was subpoenaed more than two months ago and did 
not show up Wednesday for a scheduled deposition. Meadows' lawyer, George 
Terwilliger, told the committee on Tuesday that his client was ending his 
cooperation.

   In a letter responding to Terwilliger, Thompson noted that Meadows has 
already provided documents to the committee, including personal emails and 
texts about President Donald Trump's efforts to overturn his 2020 election 
defeat, and 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 wrote.

   The move to hold Meadows in contempt comes as the committee has struggled to 
gain compliance from a few of the former president's closest and most 
high-profile allies. Still, the panel has already conducted more than 250 
interviews with witnesses as they attempt to compile the most comprehensive 
record yet of the brutal siege.

   In a statement late Wednesday, Thompson and the committee's Republican vice 
chairwoman, Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, said the panel will meet next week to vote 
on advancing criminal contempt charges against Meadows.

   "Mr. Meadows's flawed lawsuit won't succeed at slowing down the Select 
Committee's investigation or stopping us from getting the information we're 
seeking," the two lawmakers said.

   Committee leaders have said they intend to punish anyone who will not comply 
with the probe, and the House has already voted to hold longtime Trump ally 
Steve Bannon in contempt after he defied their subpoena. The Justice Department 
later indicted Bannon on two counts.

   In his letter to Terwilliger, Thompson summarized a handful of the thousands 
of documents that Meadows has already provided, including communications that 
involve White House efforts to overturn Joe Biden's election victory. Meadows 
provided the committee last month with personal emails and backed-up data from 
his personal cellphone, including text messages, Thompson said.

   He said the documents Meadows turned over included an email dated Nov. 7, 
2020 -- the day Biden was declared the White House winner -- that Thompson 
described as "discussing the appointment of alternate slates of electors as 
part of a 'direct and collateral attack' after the election." Thompson did not 
say who sent the email or give further details.

   Thompson also described an email that referenced a 38-page PowerPoint 
presentation titled "Election Fraud, Foreign Interference & Options for 6 JAN" 
that Thompson said was intended to be shared on Capitol Hill. Thompson did not 
further elaborate on the email but said it was dated Jan. 5, 2021, the day 
before hundreds of Trump's supporters violently breached the Capitol and 
interrupted the certification of Biden's victory.

   A separate Nov. 6, 2020, text exchange between Meadows and an unidentified 
member of Congress, Thompson wrote, was "apparently about appointing alternate 
electors in certain states as part of a plan that the member acknowledged would 
be 'highly controversial,' and to which Mr. Meadows apparently said, 'I love 
it.'"

   Also included in the documents, according to Thompson: a Jan. 5, 2021, email 
about having the National Guard on standby the next day; an "early 2021 text 
message exchange" between Meadows and an organizer of the rally held the 
morning of Jan. 6, when Trump told his supporters to "fight like hell"; and 
"text messages about the need for the former president to issue a public 
statement that could have stopped the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol."

   Terwilliger did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the 
letter or confirm the contents of the documents.

   Meadows' decision to stop complying with the committee was a reversal 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 Trump's 
executive privilege claims.

   Terwilliger then told the committee in a letter this week that a deposition 
had become "untenable" because the committee "has no intention of respecting 
boundaries" around questions that Trump claims are off-limits.

   Trump has attempted to hinder much of the committee's work, including in an 
ongoing court case, by arguing that Congress cannot obtain information about 
his private White House conversations.

   Terwilliger also told the committee that he learned over the weekend that 
they 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 Tuesday letter.

   In his response, Thompson confirmed the subpoenas to a third party but said 
it "does not impact Mr. Meadows's production of documents and text messages, 
which are the areas we seek to develop during his deposition."

   The committee in August issued a sweeping demand that telecommunications and 
social media companies preserve the personal communications of hundreds of 
people who may have been connected to the attack. But the panel did not ask the 
companies to turn over the records at that time.

   As the investigation has progressed, the committee has "sought data that 
will help answer important questions" but does not include the content of the 
communications, according to a committee aide who was not authorized to 
publicly discuss the investigation and spoke on condition of anonymity. The 
metadata requested includes dates and times of the communications, which could 
include both emails and texts.

 
 
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