With Criminal Contempt Looming, Meadows Says He’ll ‘Honor’ Trump’s Executive Privilege Claim
Donald Trump’s former White House chief of staff has, once again, decided not to testify before the House committee investigating Jan. 6. But while he won’t speak to the panel, he will go on Fox News and speak to Sean Hannity about a potential criminal contempt referral. “They’ve been pretty aggressive about holding people in contempt and and they’ll do what they need to do,” he said of the committee referring him for criminal prosecution, adding, “At this point, hopefully the courts can work it out.”
“We’ve been trying to work with [the committee] in a spirit of accommodation to actually share what we know from a non privilege standpoint while making sure that executive privilege is protected,” Meadows told Hannity Tuesday night. “The president has claimed executive privilege. I’m going to honor that.”
Meadows appeared on Fox hours after the committee warned him that if he does not appear for his scheduled deposition before the committee on Wednesday, it will move to refer a charge of contempt against him to the Justice Department. “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 committee said in a statement Tuesday.
When asked by Hannity what his reaction was to the committee’s warning, Meadows responded, “I can tell you that we’ve tried to work with the committee to provide them and even offered them other options in terms of answering questions that, if this has a true legislative intent, we want to help them fix the problem where it never happens again.”
Meadows has already voluntarily provided the Jan. 6 committee with what CNN has described as “more than 6,000 pages of documents.” According to CNN, contained within those documents are his communications on Jan. 6 as the riot happened, none of which he claimed were subject to executive privilege. But perhaps swayed by Trump’s public anger at some of the revelations in his book, Meadows has halted his cooperation.
As Meadows fell back in line, The New York Times reported that longtime Trump ally Roger Stone will invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and decline to testify or provide documents to the committee. “Given that the select committee’s demand for documents is overbroad, overreaching and far too wide-ranging to be deemed anything other than a fishing expedition, Mr. Stone has a constitutional right to decline to respond,” Stone lawyer Grant J. Smith wrote to the panel, according to The Times. Stone joins former Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark and Trump attorney John Eastman, who have also announced they will both plead the Fifth. All three men were central figures in Trump’s attempts to overturn the 2020 election results.
Trump has attempted to bully witnesses into non-cooperation, claiming executive privilege that a court ruled he has no right to use (Trump is appealing). And the White House has rejected his privilege claims. Trump has also publicly decried the indictment of his former chief strategist, Steve Bannon, who now faces criminal prosecution for his non-cooperation with the panel’s investigation. Like Meadows, Bannon has said he is claiming executive privilege. He has pleaded not guilty to two charges of contempt of Congress. On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols set a start date of July 18 for Bannon’s trial.
“This country has perhaps never done to anyone what they have done to Steve Bannon and they are looking to do it to others, also,” Trump said last month. Looks like Meadows may be next on that list.