The dispute between the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol and Mark Meadows escalated Friday with no sign that the former Trump chief of staff complied with a deadline set by the panel to appear.
Meadows was not seen outside the D.C. federal building where witnesses have met with committee officials ahead of the 10 a.m. ET deadline.
The committee issued a warning to Meadows on Thursday night, saying his refusal to comply with the congressional subpoena “would force the Select Committee to consider invoking the contempt of Congress procedures.”
The chairman of the Jan. 6 panel, Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., wrote to George Terwilliger, Meadows’ lawyer, to say, “There is no valid legal basis for Mr. Meadows’s continued resistance to the Select Committee’s subpoena.”
However, Terwilliger doubled down on the stance that the courts will have to resolve the dispute over executive privilege.
“Our correspondence over the last few weeks shows a sharp legal dispute with the committee. 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,” Terwilliger 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.”
Terwilliger’s office did not immediately respond to questions confirming Meadows would not meet with the committee. He did issue a statement Thursday saying Meadows, who served in the House from 2013 to 2020, would not be able to comply.
Former President Donald Trump has signaled to Meadows and other former advisers and allies that executive privilege could also shield them from cooperating with the investigation. However, the legal shield largely rests with the current president. It’s the subject of new litigation between Trump and the committee now before an appellate court.
Of the 35 subpoenas issued so far, only one witness, former Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark, has appeared before the panel — but he was there to assert that privilege prevented him from answering questions. Another, former strategist Steve Bannon, was referred for a criminal contempt charge to the Justice Department, which could take additional steps to prosecute the matter.