Former Trump White House chief of staff sues January 6 committee

Taking a page out of his former boss's playbook, Mark Meadows filed suit against Nancy Pelosi and all nine members of investigative committee

Former White House Chief of Staff to Donald Trump, Mark Meadows, is suing US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and members of the Jan. 6 committee. Reuters
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Donald Trump's former chief of staff filed a lawsuit on Wednesday against the congressional committee pursuing him for criminal contempt over his refusal to give evidence in their probe of the deadly US Capitol assault.

Mark Meadows specifically names Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leader of the House of Representatives, who launched the investigation, as well as the members of the panel preparing a report on the January 6 insurrection, during which thousands of Mr Trump's supporters stormed the US Capitol.

The lawsuit, filed a day after the panel told Mr Meadows it was taking action over his defiance of a subpoena to appear for a deposition on Wednesday, challenges the legality of the “unduly burdensome” summons and asks the Washington district court to strike it down.

Mr Meadows, who initially failed to appear before the congressional panel last month, is seen as a key witness to Mr Trump's role in efforts to overturn the election by subverting the democratic process.

He initially snubbed a subpoena to give evidence before the committee but later reached an agreement on appearing in person — before reversing course again.

Reacting to his latest about-turn, the panel wrote to Mr Meadows late on Tuesday saying it would have “no choice” but to advance criminal contempt proceedings against him.

The letter, released by the committee, added to the public record information from a trove of thousands of items of correspondence and other documents Mr Meadows had already voluntarily turned over.

They included a November 6, 2020, text exchange with a member of Congress in which Mr Meadows reportedly said “I love it” in a discussion about a plan to disenfranchise millions of voters in a bid to overturn Joe Biden's presidential election win.

If the House panel goes ahead with its threat, it will likely meet in the coming days to vote on adopting a contempt report setting out the case against Mr Meadows.

The Democratic-controlled House of Representatives would then vote to refer him to the Justice Department to consider charges.

A timetable for that decision has yet to be revealed. If convicted, Mr Meadows would face up to 12 months in prison, but more likely a fine.

Steve Bannon, another senior aide in the Trump administration and a long-time ally of the defeated former president, is due to be tried for contempt in July after defying his own subpoena.

The thousands of Trump supporters, many associated with ultranationalist and white supremacist groups, stormed the Capitol 12 months ago, reportedly egged on by Mr Trump, whose fiery speech earlier that day falsely claiming election fraud was the culmination of months of baseless statements about the election.

A comfortable majority of 57 senators — including seven from his own party — voted to convict Mr Trump after he was impeached by the House for inciting the riot, although this fell short of the two-thirds majority required under Senate rules to unseat a president.

Updated: December 09, 2021, 12:10 AM