Jan. 6 Committee Warns Meadows Risks Criminal Contempt Referral If He Keeps Stonewalling

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 21: White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows talks to reporters at the White House on October 21, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

Jan. 6 committee chair Bennie Thompson (D-MS) and vice chair Liz Cheney (R-WY) on Tuesday warned former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows that he will be referred for criminal contempt if he fails to show up for his deposition on Wednesday.

“Tomorrow’s deposition, which was scheduled at Mr. Meadows’s request, will go forward as planned,” Thompson and Cheney said in a statement on Tuesday, after Meadows lawyer indicated that his client would no longer cooperate with the probe.

“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,” the chairs continued.

Thompson and Cheney’s statement was issued hours after Meadows indicated that he has decided to go back to stonewalling the committee after a short-lived stint of engaging with the panel.

Late last month, Meadows began engaging with the committee after initially defying the panel’s subpoena. Meadows’ lawyer, George J. Terwilliger III, told CNN at the time that thousands of documents had been handed over and that the former Trump White House official had agreed to appear for an interview.

But that all changed on Tuesday morning, when Terwilliger told the committee in a letter that Meadows’ feathers were apparently ruffled by the committee’s treatment of Meadows “executive privilege” defense.

“In short, we now have every indication from the information supplied to us last Friday — upon which Mr. Meadows could expect to be questioned — that the Select Committee has no intention of respecting boundaries concerning Executive Privilege,” Terwilliger said in a letter to the committee first reported by CNN.

Terwilliger also objected to so-called recent “wide ranging subpoenas” sent by the committee to an unnamed third party communications provider in addition to recent comments from Thompson about another unnamed witness in the investigation.

“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.

It is unclear which comments Terwilliger was referring to, although former Trump DOJ official Jeffrey Clark and Trump legal adviser John Eastman previously indicated that they will plead the fifth before the committee.

Meadows’ back-and-forth with the committee began when the panel first subpoenaed him in September, requesting information about the lead up to the Capitol insurrection on Jan. 6 and the day itself.

Terwilliger’s letter to the committee on Tuesday was issued the same day as Meadows’ book release about his time serving in the Trump administration — which some members of the panel argued could potentially poke holes in Meadows’ executive privilege argument for withholding his contacts with the former president on Jan. 6.

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