Jan. 6 Committee Rebuffs Mark Meadows Executive Privilege Claims

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Members of the House committee investigating the Capitol riot have been poking holes in claims of executive privilege surrounding testimony from Trump’s White House chief of staff Mark Meadows as his new book describing time in Trump’s service nears publication. At issue is the fact that, in the book, Meadows describes private elements of his work with Trump — so if he’s willing to do that publicly, then his argument for refusing to discuss related (or the exact same) issues with the riot investigation committee seems even shakier, at best.

As summarized by POLITICO, members of the panel believe that Meadows might’ve “damaged his case for maintaining the secrecy of his contacts with former President Donald Trump on Jan. 6 by divulging selected details in his book.” There’s no significant oppositional presence in the panel’s operations, since Trump-allied Republicans flatly rejected the opportunity to join the group, so that’s likely an at least near-unanimous opinion on the committee. As Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), who serves on the committee, put it:

‘It’s… very possible that by discussing the events of January 6 in his book, if [Meadows] does that, he’s waiving any claim of privilege. So, it’d be very difficult for him to maintain, “I can’t speak about events to you, but I can speak about them in my book.”‘

Meadows did, in fact, write about January 6 in his book — including a claim that Trump said he was “speaking metaphorically” in claiming that he’d march with his supporters to the Capitol — and committee chairperson Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) said, discussing the book, that he’s “seen excerpts from it,” adding that “some of what we plan to ask him is in the excerpts of the book.” Reps. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) and Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), who are both also on the committee, joined those questioning Meadows’s executive privilege claims in light of his book’s revelations. As Raskin put it, you “can’t assert a privilege that you have waived by virtue of your other actions.”

As explained by legal expert and George Mason University Professor Mark Rozell, executive privilege is meant to shield certain information from release if it’s “vital to the national interest to protect,” in addition to covering “the privacy of some internal White House deliberations.” Executive privilege claims have also been made to try and keep top Trump ally Steve Bannon from testifying — although he didn’t even work for the White House during the time period under consideration.

Separately, the riot investigation committee has been pursuing records from the Trump White House including handwritten notes by Meadows relating to what happened on January 6. Other records that are under dispute include “daily presidential diaries, schedules, appointment information showing visitors to the White House, activity logs, call logs, and switchboard shift-change checklists showing calls” to Trump and then-VP Pence, per a recent court filing. Trump has filed a lawsuit in an attempt to block these records from being obtained by the committee on the basis of executive privilege claims that are similar to those that have been raised surrounding Meadows’s testimony.