Meanwhile, the chairman of the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection said Friday he will recommend a contempt vote against former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows after he defied a subpoena and failed to show up for a deposition Friday.
“I will be recommending a contempt of Congress effort toward him next week — the same thing we did for Steve Bannon. We’ll probably do several more,” Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Mississippi, said at an event in his home state.
The House voted last month to hold Bannon, an adviser to Trump, in contempt after he similarly defied a committee subpoena to talk about his role in the violent attack. Meadows had been in discussions with the committee since his subpoena was issued in September, but his lawyer said Friday that Meadows has a “sharp legal dispute” with the panel as Trump has claimed executive privilege over the testimony.
Thompson had threatened contempt against Meadows in a letter to the lawyer, George Terwilliger, on Thursday, saying that if he failed to appear to answer the committee's questions Friday it would be considered “willful non-compliance." The committee would first have to vote on the contempt recommendation, then the full House would vote to send it to the Justice Department.
Meadows' refusal to comply comes amid escalating legal battles between the committee and Trump as the former president has claimed privilege over documents and interviews the lawmakers are demanding.
The White House said in a letter Thursday that President Joe Biden would waive any privilege that would prevent Meadows from cooperating with the committee, prompting his lawyer to say Meadows wouldn't comply.
“Legal disputes are appropriately resolved by courts,” Terwilliger said. “It would be irresponsible for Mr. Meadows to prematurely resolve that dispute by voluntarily waiving privileges that are at the heart of those legal issues.”
As the sitting president, Biden has so far waived most of Trump's assertions of privilege over documents. U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan has backed Biden's position, noting in one ruling this week that “Presidents are not kings, and Plaintiff is not President.”
The panel’s proceedings and attempts to gather information have been delayed as Trump appealed Chutkan’s rulings. On Thursday, a federal appeals court temporarily blocked the release of some of the White House records the panel is seeking, giving that court time to consider Trump’s arguments.