OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
Former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows is suing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and members of the partisan House January 6 Committee.
The lawsuit asks a federal court in Washington, D.C. to nullify subpoenas issued by the committee for Meadows’ testimony and his phone records. Meadows also argued that the demand for his cooperation with Congress is “overly broad and unduly burdensome.”
The lawsuit comes after Meadows informed the committee that he would no longer cooperate with its investigation.
Meadows argued in the filing that, “absent any valid legislative power,” may result in “grave harms” — namely that he could be “illegally coerced into violating the Constitution” in failing to comply with former President Trump’s claims of executive privilege.
“Mr. Meadows, a witness, has been put in the untenable position of choosing between conflicting privilege claims that are of constitutional origin and dimension and having to either risk enforcement of the subpoena issued to him” the complaint reads, “or, alternatively, unilaterally abandoning the former president’s claims of privileges and immunities.”
“Despite the need to maintain executive privilege and concerns about the breadth of the subpoena, Mr. Meadows continued to pursue the possibility of an accommodation that would allow the Select Committee to obtain non-privileged information,” the lawsuit alleges.
Meadows pointed out that he had handed over thousands of records to the committee, including “1,139 documents and 6,836 total pages” — all non-privileged — and “2,319 text messages and metadata from his personal cell phone.”
Meadows went on to argue in his lawsuit that the subpoenas from the House committee are “an unconstitutional attempt to usurp the Executive Branch’s authority to enforce the law and to expose what the Select Committee believes to be problematic actions by a political opponent. Congress has no authority to issue subpoenas for these purposes.”
Earlier this week, Meadows announced that he is no longer cooperating with the Democrat-run Jan. 6 Committee, according to reports that cited a letter from his attorney.
“We agreed to provide thousands of pages of responsive documents and Mr. Meadows was willing to appear voluntarily, not under compulsion of the Select Committee’s subpoena to him, for a deposition to answer questions about non-privileged matters. Now actions by the Select Committee have made such an appearance untenable,” the letter from George J. Terwilliger II stated.
“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 added.
Meadows’ decision to stop cooperating is due in part to learning over the weekend that the committee had “issued wide-ranging subpoenas for information from a third party communications provider,” the letter says.
“As a result of careful and deliberate consideration of these factors, we now must decline the opportunity to appear voluntarily for a deposition,” Terwilliger writes.
“As we have from the beginning, we continue to work with the Select Committee and its staff to see if we can reach an accommodation that does not require Mr. Meadows to waive Executive Privilege or to forfeit the long-standing position that senior White House aides cannot be compelled to testify before Congress,” the attorney said. “We appreciate the Select Committee’s openness to receiving voluntary responses on non-privileged topics.”
Republicans have blasted the committee for what they see as blatant partisanship, especially after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., refused to seat certain GOP members recommended to her by Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., leading him to pull all names.
Only two — Reps. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger — decided to sit on the committee, and both of them are anti-Trump Republicans.