Donald Trump’s former chief of staff Mark Meadows told a member of Congress he loved the idea of appointing alternate electors as part of a “direct and collateral attack” three days after the Nov. 3 presidential election, according to documents he submitted to the committee investigating the attack on the Capitol.
The committee revealed the information in a letter to Meadows’ lawyers informing them of their intent to move forward with contempt proceedings. The three-page letter gives further insight into Meadows’ involvement in the events related to Jan. 6, including a text message exchange between Meadows and a member of Congress about appointing alternate electors in which Meadows said, “I love it”; a text message exchange between him and an organizer of the Jan. 6 rally where Trump calls on the crowd to go to the Capitol; and a Jan. 5 email about having the National Guard on standby.
The letter does not give the name of the member of Congress with whom Meadows had the exchange but notes that the undisclosed member acknowledged that appointing alternate electors in certain states would be “highly controversial.”
Hours after the committee's letter was released, Meadows filed a lawsuit against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the eight members of the committee claiming the subpoenas compelling him to cooperate fully are overreaching and illegal. Meadows' attorneys argue the subpoenas violate executive privilege and lack legislative power in an attempt to delegitimize the congressional committee.
Meadows was able to stave off contempt proceedings last week after he struck a deal with the committee to produce records and appear for a deposition. But Meadows reversed course shortly after, with his lawyers claiming the information the committee sought from a third-party communication provider included “intensely personal communications,” according to a letter first published by Politico.
The abrupt change came immediately after Trump claimed details in Meadows’ newly released book The Chief’s Chief that alleged the former president had COVID-19 during the first debate with now-president Biden were “fake news.” Meadows details in the book that the president tested positive three days before and received a negative test a short time after.
Meadows could be the third Trump ally to be slapped with criminal contempt charges for defiantly refusing to cooperate with the committee’s investigation. Ex-Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark asserted his Fifth Amendment rights after first claiming conversations between him and Trump were protected by attorney-client privilege. Trump’s former adviser Steve Bannon said Trump’s lawyers directed him to claim executive privilege over communications leading up to and during the insurrection. Trump also sought to use executive privilege to block the National Archives from turning over information to the committee.
The Jan. 6 committee has repeatedly pushed back against the claims of executive privilege, and the conundrum is also on trial in the DC court of appeals as Trump’s lawyers said they would petition the Supreme Court to take on the case if they lose again.
Bannon will stand trial in July 2022 on contempt charges. The House of Representatives will likely vote to move forward with contempt charges against Clark, who is known to have supported Trump’s efforts in trying to overturn the election.
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