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Meadows tried — and failed — to evade contempt charge referral with bogus claim

Hours before the Jan. 6 committee voted to refer Meadows for contempt of Congress charges, the former chief of staff's lawyer pleaded with the committee to reconsider.


UPDATE (12/13/21 7:48 p.m. ET): The House's Jan. 6 committee voted unanimously Monday to refer Mark Meadows to the Justice Department for contempt of Congress.

An attorney for former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows tried to convince the House's Jan. 6 committee on Monday that advancing contempt of Congress proceedings against his client would be “unjust, unwise and unfair."

The lawyer, George J. Terwilliger III, made the claim in an email to the select committee hours before its members were set to vote on whether to recommend criminal contempt charges against Meadows for refusing to comply with a congressional subpoena.

Tough luck for Meadows. That “good-faith” executive privilege claim his lawyer cites is rotten at the root.

Terwilliger's claim was rich, made on behalf of a man whose entire career in the executive branch was defined by his support for a lawless, unwise and unfair president. 

Nonetheless, the contempt referral “would be contrary to law,” Terwilliger claimed in his last-ditch plea.

The committee scheduled a vote on whether to refer Meadows for contempt charges last week after he refused multiple scheduled depositions with investigators wanting information on his whereabouts and activities on and around Jan. 6. An explosive report the committee released Sunday includes damning details about Meadows’ alleged behavior, including a claim that he sent an email to an unnamed recipient saying the National Guard would be on hand on Jan. 6 to “protect pro Trump people.” 

Meadows knows he’s in hot water. As President Donald Trump’s chief of staff, he helped enable Trump carry out his lawless, anti-democratic fantasies. An illiberal errand boy, if you will. And with that in mind, it’s no surprise he’s staking his argument not to testify on Trump's baseless claims of executive privilege. 

A referral for a criminal contempt charge against Meadows would be unlawful because it violates the "good-faith invocation of executive privilege and testimonial immunity by a former senior executive official,” Terwilliger claimed in his email to the committee.

Tough luck for Meadows. That “good-faith” executive privilege claim his lawyer cites is rotten at the root. A federal appeals court last week ruled against Trump's attempt to block the committee from obtaining records related to his actions surrounding Jan. 6.

Meadows and his legal team are grasping at straws. Monday's letter from his lawyer shows he’s trying to stave off his obligation to share what he knows about January’s insurrection attempt, and he’s clinging to Trump’s sophomoric legal arguments hoping they give him cover. 

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