The Biden administration has now formally rejected claims of executive privilege regarding documents and testimony that have been demanded by the House committee investigating the Capitol riot from Mark Meadows, who served as chief of staff in the Trump White House. Those who’ve been subpoenaed while remaining politically close to Trump have opted to stick by the former president’s dubious claims of executive privilege, and that list includes Meadows — whose attorney, George Terwilliger III, complained on Thursday that Biden was “the first President to make no effort whatsoever to protect presidential communications from being the subject of compelled testimony.”
Considering the speed with which the riot investigation committee kickstarted contempt proceedings against former top Trump adviser Steve Bannon after he refused to comply with a subpoena from the panel, it seems safe to expect that contempt proceedings against Meadows could be imminent. The full House has approved a finding of contempt against Bannon and referred the matter to the Justice Department for his potential prosecution, but whether that prosecution would be launched wasn’t immediately clear. Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), who leads the riot investigation committee, has also indicated that the panel would likely launch criminal contempt proceedings against former Trump Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark for his refusal to answer questions.
As for Meadows, White House Deputy Counsel Jonathan Su informed Terwilliger of the relevant executive privilege decision early Thursday. Terwilliger responded that “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.” In other words, it doesn’t sound like Meadows intends to comply with the subpoena without a fight. As reported by The Washington Post, Meadows’s lawyer also claimed that Biden’s decision is “contrary to decades of consistent bipartisan opinions from the Justice Department that senior aides cannot be compelled by Congress to give testimony.” Su noted, however, that “the unique and extraordinary circumstances, where Congress is investigating an effort to obstruct the lawful transfer of power under our Constitution” provide reason not “to shield information reflecting an effort to subvert the Constitution itself.” Read more here.