Meadows files suit against Jan. 6 committee after panel moves to hold him in contempt
Former President Donald Trump's chief of staff Mark Meadows is suing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and members of the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol attack, after the panel moved to hold him in contempt for not cooperating with the probe.
Meadows is seeking relief "to invalidate and prohibit the enforcement of two overly broad and unduly burdensome subpoenas from a select committee of the U.S. House of Representatives ... issued in whole or part without legal authority in violation of the Constitution and laws of the United States," according to the lawsuit filed Wednesday in D.C. District Court.
"Mr. Meadows, a witness, has been put in the untenable position of choosing between conflicting privilege claims that are of constitutional origin and dimension and having to either risk enforcement of the subpoena issued to him, not merely by the House of Representatives, but through actions by the Executive and Judicial Branches, or, alternatively, unilaterally abandoning the former president’s claims of privileges and immunities," the lawsuit says. "Thus, Mr. Meadows turns to the courts to say what the law is."
Jan. 6. committee chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., had said the panel would move to hold Meadows in contempt after Meadows failed to appear before the committee for his scheduled appearance Wednesday morning.MORE: Roger Stone, Mark Meadows won't cooperate with House committee's probe into Jan. 6 attack
Following the filing of the lawsuit Wednesday, Thompson told reporters that the panel would move forward with holding Meadows in contempt next week.
On Tuesday, two sources familiar with the matter told ABC News that Meadows had informed the committee that he was no longer cooperating with the probe, after Meadows had earlier agreed to appear before the panel.
Meadows' attorney, George J. Terwilliger II, told committee members in a letter that they had made an appearance for a deposition untenable because they have "no intention of respecting boundaries concerning Executive Privilege."
In response, Thompson told Terwilliger in a letter Tuesday night that the committee has "no choice" but to recommend the former chief of staff be held in contempt of Congress for refusing to cooperate.
Thompson's three-page letter says the committee believes Meadows has "no legitimate legal basis" to refuse to cooperate, given the content in Meadows' memoir, which was published this week.
The letter also details some of the information and records Meadows has already provided to the committee, including emails from his personal account prior to Jan 6. regarding the election challenges, and data and text messages from his personal cell phone.
According to the letter, Meadows was messaging with one member of Congress about appointing alternate electors from key states to reverse the election results. "I love it," Meadows replied, according to the letter.MORE: In reversal, former Trump Chief of Staff Mark Meadows to cooperate with Jan. 6 select committee
The letter says Meadows also turned over messages he exchanged with a Jan. 6 rally organizer in early January, and another round of messages he exchanged about "a need" for then-President Trump to "issue a public statement that could have stopped the Jan. 6 attack."
The letter also suggests Meadows may not have complied with federal record keeping laws, given the amount of records he produced from personal devices.
Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., a member of the committee, told ABC News that Meadows may have undercut his own argument against cooperating because of the reams of records he already turned over to the panel.
"He produced a number of documents to our committee, and we have a number of questions about those," Schiff said. "Those are documents he clearly recognizes he has no viable claim of privilege about, and it's hard to ... reconcile how he can talk about Jan. 6 and his conversations about it and others for a book, but not to Congress."