Former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, in a letter through his lawyer George Terwilliger and in an interview on the far-right Real America’s Voice network, announced Tuesday he would no longer be cooperating with the House Select Committee charged with investigating former president Donald Trump’s attempted coup on January 6.
The letter to the committee came a week after Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-MS), announced that Meadows had agreed to testify and provide documents.
Meadows was slated to appear for deposition before the committee today (Wednesday), and has previously turned over emails requested by the committee. However, in a letter addressed to the committee, Meadow’s lawyer Terwilliger, a former Deputy Attorney General under George H. W. Bush, wrote that, “actions by the Select Committee have made such an appearance untenable.”
Referencing a letter sent to Meadows by the committee last Friday outlining expected topics that would be broached in questioning, Terwilliger wrote that it was apparent that the committee “has no intention of respecting boundaries concerning Executive Privilege.”
Meadows, like the previously subpoenaed former Justice Department lawyer Jeffery Clark and Trump’s fascist adviser Steve Bannon, have repeatedly invoked Trump’s supposed “executive privileges” in order to justify their non-compliance with the committee. This is despite the fact that the current president, Biden, has not invoked privilege on any of the communications sought by the select committee, stating that they are a “national security” interest.
Historically, no US court has ruled that the invocation of executive privilege by a former president supersede the claims of the current president to not invoke said privilege. Furthermore, while executive privilege has been used by presidents to shield communications that are no doubt criminal from the public, no court has ruled that this privilege allows for a current president to have unlimited secrecy with his official and un-official advisors to carry out a fascist coup against a duly elected president-elect.
In a significant revelation, Terwillger disclosed in his letter that the committee,“without even the basic courtesy of notice to us,” had “issued wide ranging subpoenas for information from a third party communication provider.” As has been previously reported on the WSWS, Meadows used “burner phones” to communicate with organizers of the pro-Trump Stop the Steal and Women for America First groups, which organized rallies in support of Trump’s coup in the months leading up to, and on January 6.
In an interview with Fox News on Tuesday, Terwillger confirmed that the committee had sent a subpoena to a telecommunications company for Meadows’ cellphone records. Terwilliger said Meadows had intended to turn the records over to the committee, after his client had screened them for “privileged materials.”
Meadows reiterated the same point in an interview on Real America’s Voice, the same network that hosts Bannon’s fascistic WarRoom show six-days-a-week. “In addition,” said Meadows, “we found that in spite of our cooperation and sharing documents with them they had issued unbeknownst to us, and not without even a courtesy call, issued a subpoena to a third party carrier trying to get information.” Meadows continued, “And so at this point, we, we feel like it’s best that we just continue to honor the executive privilege, and it looks like the courts are going to have to weigh in on this.”
In response to Meadows assertion that he will not testify, the January 6 Committee official Twitter account, released a statement which noted that Meadows “does not intend to cooperate further despite his apparent willingness to provide details about the January 6th attack, including conversations with President Trump, in the book he is now promoting and selling.” “The Select Committee has numerous questions for Mr. Meadows about records he has turned over to the Committee with no claim of privilege, which include real-time communications with many individuals as the events of January 6th unfolded,” wrote the committee.
The statement concludes with a warning that if Meadows “refuses to appear, the Select Committee will be left no choice but to advance contempt proceedings and recommend that the body in which Meadows once served refer him for criminal prosecution,” Select Committee member California Democrat Adam Schiff likewise warned that if Meadows fails to appear, “he will be subject to criminal contempt.”
The threat of criminal contempt does not hold much water for Trump’s co-conspirators, many of whom appear to wear it as a badge of honor, a symbol of their loyalty to Trump and proof of their defiance against the “illegitimate” Biden administration. Their confidence is not misplaced. In the over 11 months since Trump, with the help of significant sections of the Republican Party, the police-intelligence-military apparatus, fascist militias, and lumpen elements, attempted to block the certification of Biden’s election on January 6, neither Bannon, Meadows, Clark, Trump or any other of his Republican legislative co-conspirators, such as representatives Paul Gosar (Arizona), Mo Brooks (Alabama), Andy Biggs (Arizona) or Lauren Boebert (Colorado) have sniffed the inside of a jail cell.
Far from being held to account by the Democratic Party, Trump’s loyalists in Congress, 147 of whom voted to overturn the results of the election after the attack on the couple, alternate between levying death threats at Democratic lawmakers and pledging their fealty to Trump and his “big lie” that the election was stolen.
Bannon is the only high-level Trump conspirator targeted by the committee who has actually had to appear in court, after Congress, in a near-party line vote, held him in contempt last month. Even so, Bannon will have another seven months to incite and cultivate fascistic support for Trump before he goes to trial.
On Tuesday, US District Judge Carl Nichols set a July 18 start date for Bannon’s trial, nearly 11 months after Bannon first rejected the committee’s legitimacy on September 24. Nichols disagreed with federal prosecutors who were arguing for a mid-April trial date. Nichols claimed that July would suffice while April would be moving things “too quickly.” Even if Bannon is convicted, the maximum penalty for criminal contempt of Congress is one year in jail.
Prior to the establishment of the select committee, in a May interview with CBS’ 60 Minutes, former acting US Attorney for the District of Columbia Michael Sherwin said that “the facts” support charging individuals who participated in the planning of the attack on Capitol, including Trump and his accomplices, with sedition. Seven months later though, of the at least 719 people charged so far in connection with the attack on the Capitol, not a single person has been charged with sedition.
As reported in Peril, by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, following the attack on the Capitol, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi confided to Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Mark Milley that Republicans “have blood on their hands” for enabling Trump’s coup and that Trump “should have been arrested. He should have been arrested on the spot.”
Instead, Biden and the Democrats have continued to call for “unity” with the party of Trump to enact their shared class agenda. The inability of the Democratic Party, beholden to the same financial oligarchy as the Republicans, to defend democratic rights or hold Trump accountable has embolden far-right politicians.
The defense of democratic rights cannot be left up to the Democrats, a party of Wall Street and the CIA, which has proven incapable of holding Trump and his accomplices accountable. What is needed is the independent mobilization of the working class, organized on an internationalist socialist perspective against both bourgeois parties and the capitalist system they represent.