President Donald Trump’s former White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, filed a lawsuit Wednesday against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and members of the House select committee investigating the events at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.
Earlier in the day, the committee had announced plans to hold Meadows in criminal contempt of Congress after he declined to testify, citing executive privilege.
The lawsuit explained Meadows’ reasoning a bit further.
“For months, Mr. Meadows has consistently sought in good faith to pursue an accommodation with the Select Committee whereby it could obtain relevant, non-privileged information,” the suit said, according to Fox News.
“While the Committee and Mr. Meadows engaged over a period of time in an effort to achieve such reasonable accommodation, the Select Committee adamantly refused to recognize the immunity of present and former senior White House aides from being compelled to appear before Congress and likewise refused to recognize a former president’s claims of Executive Privilege and instructions to Mr. Meadows to maintain such privilege claims in addressing the Select Committee’s inquiries,” it added.
That wasn’t all.
“The current President of the United States, through counsel, purported to waive the former president’s claims of privilege and immunity,” the lawsuit said.
“As a result, 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, not merely by the House of Representatives, but through actions by the Executive and Judicial Branches, or, alternatively, unilaterally abandoning the former president’s claims of privileges and immunities. Thus, Mr. Meadows turns to the courts to say what the law is.”
The suit, which Meadows filed in federal court, also criticized the committee for sending him “two overly broad and unduly burdensome subpoenas.” One of those subpoenas, he said, sought to obtain his phone and text data from Verizon.
“Mr. Meadows faces the harm of both being illegally coerced into violating the Constitution,” the suit said, The New York Times reported.
Meadows had said Tuesday he would stop cooperating with the committee’s investigation into the violence on Jan. 6.
“Mark Meadows has informed the Select Committee that he does not intend to cooperate further with our investigation despite his apparent willingness to provide details about the facts and circumstances surrounding the January 6th attack, including conversations with President Trump, in the book he is now promoting and selling,” Mississippi Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson, chairman of the select committee, said in response.
On Wednesday evening, after the committee said it still planned to hold him in contempt, despite the lawsuit, Meadows slammed what he called a “fishing expedition.”
“I can tell you, because certain non-privileged communications, I think what they will find is that no one in the White House had any advance knowledge of anything that was going to happen on that [January 6] in terms of a breach of security,” he told Fox.
“[T]hey are doing a fishing expedition,” he added, referring to the committee. “It’s broadly believed that they’ve issued more subpoenas in the last two months than they have in the last decade.”