Jan. 6 panel threatens Meadows with contempt

The leaders of the select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol are vowing to launch criminal charges against Mark MeadowsMark MeadowsAre the legal walls closing in on Donald Trump? Jan. 6 probe roils Cheney race in Wyoming House has the power to subpoena its members — but does it have the will? MORE if he refuses to cooperate in the probe.

Meadows, who was chief of staff to then-President TrumpDonald TrumpDeputy AG: DOJ investigating fake Trump electors Former Boston Red Sox star David Ortiz elected to Baseball Hall of Fame Overnight Health Care — Senators unveil pandemic prep overhaul MORE at the time of the violent siege, is scheduled to testify privately before the panel on Wednesday, a date set after he recently agreed to participate in the probe after initially refusing.

But Meadows reversed course again this week, informing the committee that he won't attend Wednesday's deposition, according to Reps. Bennie ThompsonBennie Gordon ThompsonAlex Jones says he invoked Fifth Amendment 'almost 100 times' before Jan. 6 panel Democrats ask for information on specialized Border Patrol teams The Hill's Morning Report - US warns Kremlin, weighs more troops to Europe MORE (D-Miss.) and Liz CheneyElizabeth (Liz) Lynn CheneyThe Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden faces Ukraine decision amid Russia aggression Cheney hits Gingrich for saying Jan. 6 panel members may be jailed The Hill's Morning Report - US warns Kremlin, weighs more troops to Europe MORE (R-Wyo.), who are leading the investigation.

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Meadows, through an attorney, is accusing the select committee of abusing its powers and undermining the executive privilege authority invoked by Trump and several members of his inner circle, a claim first reported by CNN.

Thompson and Cheney are vowing to charge ahead with Wednesday's meeting "as planned."

But "if indeed Mr. Meadows refuses to appear, the Select Committee will be left no choice but to advance contempt proceedings and recommend that the body in which Mr. Meadows once served refer him for criminal prosecution," Thompson said in a statement.

Meadows, a former House member from North Carolina, recently published a book about his time in the White House that features lurid new details about Trump's presidency, including a claim that the former president had tested positive for COVID-19 well before a debate with then-Democratic presidential candidate Joe BidenJoe BidenDeputy AG: DOJ investigating fake Trump electors On The Money — Vaccine-or-test mandate for businesses nixed Warner tests positive for breakthrough COVID-19 case MORE.

Trump is reportedly livid about the book, characterizing it publicly as "fake news." And Meadows has since walked back his own narrative, saying it was misinterpreted by a liberal media hellbent on disparaging the former president.
 
But Thompson and Cheney have other topics in mind to discuss, including details of the Jan. 6 Capitol assault that Meadows has included in his book.

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"Even as we litigate privilege issues, 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," Thompson and Cheney said in a statement.  

They're also keen to learn more about "voluminous official records" contained in Meadows's personal phone and email accounts. Those records, they noted, were required by law to be turned over to the National Archives at the end of Trump's presidency.

If the select committee were to vote to recommend Meadows for criminal contempt, the resolution would then head to the House floor for a vote of the full chamber.

The House has already voted this year to hold another Trump confidant in contempt. Stephen Bannon, Trump's former senior strategist, had also defied a subpoena from the Jan. 6 select committee, citing executive privilege. He is scheduled to head to trial in July.