(WASHINGTON) — Former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows wants a court to resolve former President Donald Trump’s claims of executive privilege before he cooperates with the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.
This comes after the White House notified Meadows’ attorney in a letter obtained by ABC News that President Joe Biden has no plans to assert executive privilege over testimony or documents.
“President Biden recognizes the importance of candid advice in the discharge of the President’s constitutional responsibilities and believes that, in appropriate cases, executive privilege should be asserted to protect former senior White House staff from having to testify about conversations concerning the President’s exercise of the duties of his office,” said the letter from deputy White House counsel Jonathan Su to lawyer George Terwilliger. “But in recognition of these unique and extraordinary circumstances, where Congress is investigating an effort to obstruct the lawful transfer of power under our Constitution, President Biden has already determined that an assertion of executive privilege is not in the public interest, and is therefore not justified, with respect to particular subjects within the purview of the Select Committee.”
Su also writes that Biden has determined he will not assert immunity to “preclude your client from testifying before the Select Committee.”
Terwilliger said in a statement to ABC News that “it now appears the courts will have to resolve this conflict.”
“Contrary to decades of consistent bipartisan opinions from the Justice Department that senior aides cannot be compelled by Congress to give testimony, this is the first President to make no effort whatsoever to protect presidential communications from being the subject of compelled testimony,” Terwilliger said. “Mr. Meadows remains under the instructions of former President Trump to respect longstanding principles of executive privilege. It now appears the courts will have to resolve this conflict.”
Meadows was first subpoenaed on Sept. 23 and has since been in talks with the committee through his lawyer on the extent to which he will cooperate with its probe. But sources familiar with the committee’s dealings say there has been growing frustration over the lack of progress regarding Meadows’ potential cooperation.
In a letter Thursday night, the committee threatened to hold Meadows in contempt of Congress if he doesn’t appear for a deposition before the committee on Friday.
“Simply put, there is no valid legal basis for Mr. Meadows’s continued resistance to the Select Committee’s subpoena. As such, the Select Committee expects Mr. Meadows to produce all responsive documents and appear for deposition testimony tomorrow, November 12, 2021, at 10:00 a.m. If there are specific questions during that deposition that you believe raise legitimate privilege issues, Mr. Meadows should state them at that time on the record for the Select Committee’s consideration and possible judicial review,” the letter reads.
“The Select Committee will view Mr. Meadows’s failure to appear at the deposition, and to produce responsive documents or a privilege log indicating the specific basis for withholding any documents you believe are protected by privilege, as willful non-compliance,” it continues. “Such willful non- compliance with the subpoena would force the Select Committee to consider invoking the contempt of Congress procedures in 2 U.S.C. §§ 192, 194—which could result in a referral from the House of Representatives to the Department of Justice for criminal charges—as well as the possibility of having a civil action to enforce the subpoena brought against Mr. Meadows in his personal capacity.”
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