Posts tagged with "Mark Meadows"

Judge orders Rep. Scott Perry to turn over cellphone records in January 6 probe

December 22, 2023

Representative Scott Perry (R-Pennsylvania) must disclose 1,659 documents to government investigators, a federal judge ruled on Tuesday, December 19—finding that the communication records were not protected by the speech or debate clause of the Constitution, reports NBC News.

The court order is the latest twist in a January 6-related investigation that has made its way through courts for months and entangled the Trump ally.

According to the NBDC report, the FBI seized Perry’s phone in 2022— before Jack Smith was appointed special counsel—as part of a federal investigation into efforts to interfere with the certification of the 2020 election. Investigators sought a second warrant to access Perry’s data but had to wait as Perry asserted speech or debate protection over 2,219 records.

Perry had said that he was “outraged” by the move and asked for the cellphone data to be returned.

A federal judge previously ruled that the majority of those records were not protected and ordered Perry to disclose them. The Pennsylvania Republican appealed that decision.

The appeals court largely upheld the judge’s order but ruled that speech or debate protection could apply in some circumstances that the lower court had rejected, requiring a re-review of the records from the district court.

In his ruling Tuesday, Chief Judge James Boasberg said that 396 of Perry’s records are protected by the speech or debate clause. The remaining records, which include messages about alleged election fraud and the role of the vice president in certifying the electoral vote count, must be turned over, the judge said.

“Having now analyzed each of the 2,055 documents still at issue, the Court will order Perry to disclose 1,659 of them, but not the 396 others,” Boasberg wrote in the 12-page filing.

The court filing alleges that Perry used his cellphone in communications that the government believes could be relevant to its investigation into the January 6 Capitol attack.

The congressman had previously argued that the Constitution’s speech or debate clause protected him from the government searching his communications—an argument mostly rejected in the latest court filing. The clause is intended to protect a member’s speech in legislative session and has been construed to protect speech beyond the session as well, according to Tuesday’s filing.

Perry has come under fire for his alleged actions after the 2020 presidential election. The January 6 committee of the House previously obtained some of his text messages in which he asked former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows about a conspiracy theory related to the 2020 election.

A lawyer for Perry said in a statement Wednesday that the congressman had an “obligation” to investigate “seemingly credible” information about “discrepancies” in the 2020 election.

“We are reviewing how the district court applied the standards required by the DC Circuit and will decide whether to seek further judicial review,” said the lawyer, John Rowley III.

Research contact: @NBCNews

Mark Meadows’ bid to punt election case out of Georgia shot down

December 20, 2023

On Monday, December 18, a federal appeals court rejected an attempt by Mark Meadows to move an election interference case against him from Georgia to federal court—ruling that Meadows, Trump’s one-time White House chief of staff, had not demonstrated that his alleged criminal conduct was related to his duties under the former president, reports The Daily Beast.

The three-judge panel on the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled unanimously to uphold a lower court opinion from September. The panel wrote witheringly in its 47-page opinion, authored by a Bush-appointed conservative judge, that the federal removal statute that Meadows’ lawyers had been attempting to invoke “does not apply to former federal officers.”

What’s more, Chief Judge William Pryor added, even if it did, Meadows’ “participation in an alleged conspiracy to overturn a presidential election was not related to his official duties.”

“At bottom,” Pryor wrote, “whatever the chief of staff’s role with respect to state election administration, that role does not include altering valid election results in favor of a particular candidate.”

The decision comes just three days after the panel heard oral arguments in the transfer request. It marks the end of Meadows’ bid to get his case kicked out of Georgia state court, unless he appeals the decision to the Supreme Court and it agrees to hear the case.

An attorney for Meadows did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Monday night.

Meadows was indicted alongside his former boss and 17 others in August on charges they illegally conspired to keep Trump in power after the 2020 presidential election by reversing his loss in Georgia. Meadows, who has pleaded not guilty, is facing one count of violating a state racketeering law and one count of solicitation of violation of oath by a public officer.

A key issue for the ex-chief of staff has been over his role in a notorious January 2021 phone call where Trump asked Brad Raffensperger, the Georgia secretary of state, to “find” more than 10,000 votes in his favor.

Meadows has argued his presence on the call was under the purview of his duties as chief of staff. Prosecutors—and, thus far, the courts—have disagreed.

Research contact: @TBD

Georgia prosecutors won’t consider plea deals for Mark Meadows, Rudy Giuliani, or Donald Trump

November 30, 2023

 

Georgia prosecutors in former President Donald Trump’s election interference racketeering case reportedly say they will not consider plea deals for co-defendants Mark Meadows or Rudy Giuliani—or for Trump himself, reports New York’s Daily News.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis has decided to proceed to try Trump and his two top lieutenants as the alleged ringleaders of his plot to steal the 2020 election in the Peach State and elsewhere, The Guardian reported on Tuesday, November 28.

Willis has named Trump the leader of the multipronged conspiracy to overturn his loss to President Joe Biden.

Former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows may have hoped to wriggle off the hook in the Georgia case, but has so far unsuccessfully sought to have his case moved to federal court. He offered some cooperation to Special Counsel Jack Smith in exchange for testimony to the federal grand jury investigating the election interference case, but has apparently not made any formal cooperation deal.

Giuliani faces a plethora of legal woes in Georgia and elsewhere—including a slam-dunk defeat in a defamation case filed by Atlanta election workers whom he falsely accused of rigging votes for President Biden. The judgment could bankrupt him.

The ex-mayor also is named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the federal election interference case led by Smith. He submitted to questioning by Smith’s team in what legal analysts called an effort to win a deal to avoid prosecution, but there is no sign that he was successful.

Aside from signaling danger to Meadows and Giuliani, the reported decision by Willis could serve as a flashing invitation to the other dozen or so remaining co-defendants to step up talks for plea agreements in the sprawling case.

The most prominent name that was left off of Willis’ must-face-trial list is

pro-Trump law professor John Eastman.The right-wing law professor is considered the architect of Trump’s alleged scheme to convince Republican lawmakers in Georgia and other battleground states to create bogus slates of pro-Trump electors to muddy the waters of Biden’s victory.

That is one of several intertwined plots laid out in the RICO indictment, along with an effort to bully officials into investigating bogus claims of widespread voter fraud and a bizarre plan to hack into voting machines in a rural pro-Trump Georgia county.

So far, three other Trump lawyers have pleaded guilty and agreed to testify against Trump and the others, along with a Trump campaign activist who allegedly aided the Coffee County voting machine effort.

That leaves 14 co-defendants still facing the prospect of going on trial alongside Trump. Several of them are relatively low-level participants in the plot; or fake electors who legal analysts say should have a strong incentive to plead guilty and put the case behind them.

Georgia’s RICO law carries sentences of up to 20 years in prison and would not be subject to pardons. The statute is considered a particularly powerful weapon for prosecutors, and Willis has proven her effectiveness at using it to jail crooked mobsters, drug dealers and even cheating teachers.

Willis has asked Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee to set an August 5 date for the trial, which is expected to last several months. lf that schedule holds, Trump would face the daunting prospect of being on trial in an Atlanta courtroom during the last months of the 2024 presidential campaign.

Trump faces a March 4 trial in Washington, D.C., in the federal election interference case presided over by District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan.

Research contact: @NYDailyNews

 

Fani Willis’s grand-slam indictment against Donald Trump

August 16, 2023

Like a clean-up hitter in baseball, Fulton County, Georgia, District Attorney Fani Willis has hit a grand slam home run with her indictment of former President Donald Trump, reports The Hill.

It is by far the most comprehensive of the four criminal indictments now pending against the former president—in terms of the kinds of crimes it alleges, the places in which they occurred, and the number of people charged.

Georgia, which was ground zero for Trump’s lies about the election outcome and his effort to overturn the results of the 2020 election, now looks like it also will be ground zero for those seeking to hold the former president accountable.

The indictment filed by Willis draws on various state laws to name what Trump did in the wake of the 2020 election and rightly calls the Trump campaign a criminal enterprise for the coordinated efforts it made to overturn the election results.

While Special Counsel Jack Smith’s August 1 indictment seemed narrowly focused and tailored to avoid any unnecessary legal complexity, Willis appears to have chosen a different path.

The Georgia indictment lays out, in soup-to-nuts fashion, many crimes. Some are already well-know and, if proven, are quite serious. Others, although also serious, have received much less publicity.

The indictment does a service to American democracy by providing the broadest possible framework to describe the crimes that Trump and others allegedly committed in Georgia and elsewhere.

As the indictment states in its succinct introduction: “Defendant Donald John Trump lost the United States presidential election held on November 3, 2020. One of the states he lost was Georgia. Trump and the other Defendants charged in this Indictment refused to accept that Trump lost, and they knowingly and willfully joined a conspiracy to unlawfully change the outcome of the election in favor of Trump.”

“That conspiracy,” the indictment continues, “contained a common plan and purpose to commit two or more acts of racketeering activity in Fulton County, Georgia, elsewhere in the State of Georgia, and in other states … including, but not limited to, Arizona, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, and in the District of Columbia.”

The charges contained in the 41-count indictment involve Trump and 18 others, a rogues’ gallery of collaborators in the ex-president’s alleged criminal enterprise, including Rudy Giuliani, John Eastman, Mark Meadows, Sidney Powell, and Jeffrey Clark. The named defendants are liable to severe criminal penalties, with the very real prospect that some, or all of them, will end up joining the 47,000 people already serving time in Georgia prisons.

At the heart of Willis’s grand slam indictment is the charge that Trump’s conduct violated Georgia’s laws against racketeering, a type of organized crime typically involving fraud or extortion. This charge conjures images of the kinds of things done by Al Capone or Jimmy Hoffa—and now of the four-time indicted former president.

Georgia’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), enacted in 1980, was written more broadly than its federal counterpart. Under Georgia’s law, it is easier to prove a pattern of racketeering than it would be with a federal RICO charge. As The Guardian notes, “It requires prosecutors to show the existence of an ‘enterprise’—and a pattern of racketeering activity that is predicated on at least two ‘qualifying’ crimes.”

Among those crimes the indictment lists: making false statements concerning fraud in the November 3, 2020 election; corruptly soliciting Georgia officials, “including the Secretary of State and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, to violate their oaths to the Georgia Constitution and to the United States Constitution by unlawfully changing the outcome of the November 3, 2020 presidential election”; and creating “false Electoral College documents and recruit[ing] individuals to convene and cast false Electoral College votes.”

The Georgia indictment also charges Trump and others with conspiracy to commit election fraud. Those efforts include what Trump calls his “perfect phone call” to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, in which the then-president asked him to find 11,780 votes and warned he might face criminal prosecution if he failed to do so.

Using the racketeering charge for Trump’s election tampering efforts, seems, at first glance, to be going into what Georgia State University law professor Anthony Michael Kreis calls “deeply uncharted territory.” Applying it in this context, he says, “is very new. That is something that we haven’t seen in Georgia before, and it hasn’t really happened elsewhere before.”

And because of its complexity—trying a racketeering case with 19 defendants, each with their own lawyer and legal strategy—it will not be easy to pull off. But, given Willis’s track record, Trump should take this racketeering charge very seriously.

If it is televised, America will see defendant Trump sitting quietly with his lawyers while he is prosecuted by a Black woman in a city which Joe Biden carried overwhelmingly. This is hardly the visual which our reality-TV-star-turned-president generally prefers, although it may play into his overarching narrative of victimization in a demographically changing America.

In the end, the filing of Willis’s indictment means that Georgia will be, as lyrics in the well-known song by Ray Charles say, very much on Trump’s mind—as well as on the minds of Americans seeking a forum to examine the damage he has done to our democracy.

Research contact: @thehill

Mark Meadows testifies to grand jury in Special Counsel’s investigation of Trump

June 8, 2023

Mark Meadows, the final White House chief of staff of President Donald Trump’s administration—and a potentially key figure in inquiries related to Trump—has testified before a federal grand jury hearing evidence in the investigations being led by the Special Counsel’s Office, according to two people briefed on the matter, reports The New York Times .

Meadows is a figure in both of the two distinct lines of inquiry being pursued by Jack Smith, the special counsel appointed to oversee the Justice Department’s scrutiny of Trump.

One inquiry is focused on Trump’s efforts to cling to power after losing the 2020 election, culminating in the attack by a pro-Trump mob on the Capitol during congressional certification of the Electoral College results on January 6, 2021. The other is an investigation into Trump’s handling of hundreds of classified documents after he left office and, in particular, whether he obstructed efforts to retrieve them.

It is not clear precisely when Meadows testified or if investigators questioned him about one or both of the cases.

For months, people in Trump’s orbit have been puzzled by and wary about the low profile kept by Meadows in the investigations. As reports surfaced of one witness after another going into the grand jury or to be interviewed by federal investigators, Meadows has kept largely out of sight, and some of Trump’s advisers believe he could be a significant witness in the inquiries.

Trump, himself, has at times asked aides questions about how , Meadows is doing, according to a person familiar with the remarks.

Asked about the grand jury testimony, a lawyer for Meadows, George Terwilliger, said, “Without commenting on whether or not … Meadows has testified before the grand jury or in any other proceeding, … Meadows has maintained a commitment to tell the truth where he has a legal obligation to do so.”

Meadows was a polarizing figure at the White House among some of Trump’s aides, who saw him as a loose gatekeeper at best during a final year in which the former president moved aggressively to mold the government in his image.

Meadows was around for pivotal moments leading up to and after the 2020 election, as Trump plotted to try to stay in office and thwart Joe Biden. from being sworn in to succeed him. Some of them were described in hundreds of text messages that Meadows turned over to the House select committee that investigated the January 6 attack at the Capitol before he decided to stop cooperating. Those texts served as a road map for House investigators.

But Meadows also has insight into efforts by the National Archives to retrieve roughly two dozen boxes of presidential material that officials had been told Trump took with him when he left the White House in January 2021. Meadows was one of Trump’s representatives to the archives, and he had some role in trying to discuss the matter with Trump, according to two people briefed on the matter.

Meadows is also now connected tangentially to a potentially vital piece of evidence that investigators uncovered in recent months—an audio recording of an interview that Trump gave to two people assisting Meadows in writing a memoir of his White House years.

Meadows did not attend the meeting, which took place in July 2021 at Trump’s club at Bedminster, New Jersey. During the meeting, Trump referred to a document he appeared to have in front of him and suggested that he should have declassified it but that he no longer could, since he was out of office.

That recording could undercut Trump’s claim that he believed he had declassified all material still held at his properties for months after he left office.

Research contact: @nytimes

‘Decisions are imminent’: Georgia prosecutor nears charging decisions in Trump probe

January 26, 2023

The Atlanta-area district attorney investigating Donald Trump’s effort to subvert the 2020 election indicated on Tuesday, January 24,  that decisions on whether to seek the indictment of the former president or his associates were “imminent,” reports Politico.

“Decisions are imminent,” Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis said during a Tuesday court hearing called by the Georgia trial court judge overseeing the “special purpose grand jury” that Willis has used to gather evidence over the last year.

Willis’ remark came as she urged the superior court judge, Robert McBurney, to oppose calls to publicly release the findings of her yearlong probe, which she conducted alongside the special grand jury to examine Trump and his inner circle.

Willis has spent the last year investigating Trump’s and his allies’ effort to reverse the election results in Georgia, despite losing the state by more than 11,000 votes.

The special grand jury probed Trump’s January 2 phone call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger—asking him to “find” just enough votes to put him ahead of Joe Biden in the state.

And it pursued evidence about Trump’s broader national effort to subvert the election, calling top allies like his White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, Attorney John Eastman, and Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina).

The special grand jury concluded its investigation earlier this month, dissolving in early January, and recommended that its findings be released publicly. McBurney then called for a hearing to discuss whether to follow the panel’s recommendation or maintain the secrecy of the report. Willis told the judge that making the report public could jeopardize impending prosecutions.

“In this case, the state understands the media’s inquiry and the world’s interest. But we have to be mindful of protecting future defendants’ rights,” Willis said, emphasizing that multiple people could face charges.

Tuesday’s discussion was the result of Georgia’s unusual grand jury law, which permits prosecutors to impanel a “special purpose grand jury” that has no power to make formal indictments but can help prosecutors gather evidence about a specific topic. If Willis opts to pursue charges against Trump or others, she needs to present her evidence to a traditional grand jury, which could then issue indictments.

Thomas Clyde, an attorney representing several media outlets supporting the release of the report, urged McBurney to side with the grand jurors rather than Willis.

“We believe the report should be released now and in its entirety,” Clyde said.

He noted that findings in criminal investigations are often released publicly even while investigations and grand jury proceedings continue.

McBurney noted that Willis’ probe has been accompanied by an extraordinary release of information and evidence by the House January 6 select committee and from witnesses being called before a federal grand jury probing the same matters, none of which had derailed Willis’ probe. He also noted that there was little to stop individual grand jurors from simply telling others about the findings in their report.

But McBurney said he wanted more time to consider the arguments and said any ruling he made would provide significant advance notice before the potential release of the report.

Research contact: @politico

Top Trump-aligned conservative group buys up prime D.C. office space

January 19, 2023

An influential conservative nonprofit led by former Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows is buying up millions of dollars’ worth of office space on Capitol Hill, records show, according to a report by Axios.

The Conservative Partnership Institute, as the  nonprofit is called, is the backbone of a policy and advocacy apparatus aligned with hard-right legislators such as Representatives Matt Gaetz (R-Florida) and Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Georgia).

Indeed, Axios says, the real-estate purchases are a sign of the conservative nonprofit’s growing clout—and grandiose plans—as it tries to steer the direction of Republicans’ new House majority and prepare for the next GOP administration.

Just this month, several right-wing lawmakers who opposed Representative Kevin McCarthy’s (R-California) bid for speakership —including Gaetz, and Representatives Byron Donalds (R-Florida), Paul Gosar (R-Arizona), Ralph Norman (R-South Carolina) and Scott Perry (R-Pennsylvania) — met at the CPI offices, according to Yahoo News.

CPI completed its most recent purchase early this month: $11.35 million for new space on Pennsylvania Avenue, adjacent to both the Capitol and CPI’s headquarters on Independence Avenue, D.C. property records show.

That followed multiple purchases last year on Pennsylvania Avenue—and ones on nearby 3rd Street SE and C Street SE—each made in the name of a different LLC.

Also last year, CPI paid more than $7 million for a 14,000-square-foot lodge on more than 2,000 acres near the Maryland shore, according to property records.

Led by Meadows and ex-Senator Jim DeMint (R-South Carolina), CPI has incubated or financially supported a number of allied organizations. Many are run by Trump Administration alumni and considered integral to early planning for another potential Trump presidency.

Founded in 2017, CPI has grown substantially in recent years. Its operating budget shot up from $7.1 million in 2020 to more than $45 million the following year, tax records show.

CPI leases some of its office space to the House Freedom Caucus’ political arms — the House Freedom Fund and House Freedom Action, Federal Election Commission records show. Staffers for HFC members and other conservative legislators routinely travel to CPI’s Maryland property—where the group hosts training sessions on topics ranging from communications to congressional procedure to investigative tactics.

CPI’s offices are designed not just as venues for political strategy and advocacy, but also as places where conservatives can find—in its words—”a sense of community.”

In its 2021 annual report, the group says, “Within our historic building and adjacent properties—just a half mile from the U.S. Capitol—conservatives learn how to resist the lure of the Establishment and be effective in Washington.”

Research contact: @axios

Meadows was central to hundreds of texts about overturning 2020 election, book says

September 28, 2022

The texts included previously unreported messages—including a group chat with Trump administration cabinet officials and plans to object to Joe Biden’s election certification on January 6 by Republican members of Congress and one former US attorney, as well as other Trump allies.

The book, “The Breach” by former Congressman Denver Riggleman, was obtained by The Guardian in advance of its scheduled publication on Tuesday, September 27.  The 288-page tome, published by Henry Holt and Co., already has become controversial after being condemned by the panel as “unauthorized.”

Although most of the texts sent to and from Meadows that Riggleman includes in the book have been public for months, his text offers new insight into and fills some gaps about how all three branches of government were seemingly involved in strategizing ways to obstruct the congressional certification on January 6, 2021.

Less than an hour after the election was called for Biden, for instance, Rick Perry, Trump’s former energy secretary, texted a group chat that included Meadows; then-housing secretary, Ben Carson; and former agriculture secretary, Sonny Perdue, all concluding that Trump should dispute the call.

POTUS line should be: Biden says hes [sic] president. America will see what big data says,” Perry wrote. “This sets the stage for what we’re about to prove.” While Carson was more cautious, Perdue appeared unconcerned about seeing concrete proof of election fraud. “No quit!” he wrote.

The former president’s final White House chief of staff also fielded a text from the Republican Senator Kevin Cramer, who forwarded a note from North Dakota’s then-U.S. attorney, Drew Wrigley, who offered his own advice for overturning the results because “Trump’s legal team has made a joke of this whole thing.”

“Demand statewide recount of absentee/mail-in ballots in line with pre-existing state law with regard to signature comparisons,” Wrigley wrote. “If state officials refuse that recount, the legislature would then act under the Constitution, selecting the slate of electors.”

The suggestion from Wrigley echoed what the Trump legal team would ultimately pursue in having fake electors sent to Congress on January 6 to have the then vice-president, Mike Pence, refuse to certify Biden’s win—a scheme now part of a criminal investigation by the US attorney in Washington, D.C.

The text from Wrigley is significant since the Justice Department is supposed to remain above the political fray. Wrigley’s note appears to mark an instance of a federal prosecutor endorsing a legally dubious scheme when there was no fraud sufficient to alter the outcome of the 2020 election.

A DOJ spokesperson could not immediately be reached for comment. Wrigley, now the North Dakota state attorney general, also could not be immediately reached for comment.

Texts to Meadows also show Republican lawmakers started to finalize objections to the certification of the 2020 election only hours after Trump sent a tweet about a “big protest” that the House January 6 committee has said mobilized far-right groups to make preparations to storm the Capitol.

The former president sent the pivotal tweet in the early hours of December 19, 2020. The panel previously described it as the catalyst that triggered the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers groups, as well as “Stop the Steal” activists, to target obstructing the certification.

But the tweet also coincided with efforts by Republican lawmakers to finalize objections to the congressional certification of Joe Biden’s election win, new texts from some of Trump’s most ardent supporters on Capitol Hill sent to Meadows show.

Hours after Trump sent his tweet, according to texts published in the book, the Republican congressman Jody Hice messaged Meadows to say he would be “leading” his state’s “electoral college objection on Jan 6”—days before Trump is known to have met with Republicans at the White House to discuss it.

The congressman also told Meadows that Trump “spoke” with Marjorie Taylor Greene, a far-right Republican who had been elected to a House seat in Georgia but had yet to be sworn in, and was interested in meeting with the ultra-conservative House Freedom Caucus.

Hice’s messages to Meadows came at a critical juncture: It was the Saturday after a contentious Friday meeting at the White House, where Trump entertained seizing voting machines and installing a conspiracy theorist lawyer, Sidney Powell, as special counsel to investigate election fraud.

The meeting to discuss objecting to Biden’s win on January 6 was originally scheduled for the next Monday, December 21, 2020, but it was rescheduled to take place on the next Tuesday, according to the book, citing additional messages sent by the Republican congressman Brian Babin.

Nine days after the meeting with Trump, the Republican members of Congress seemed to finish their objection plans, and Babin texted Meadows to say the “objectors” would be having an additional strategy session at the Conservative Partnership Institute, which played host to other January 6 efforts.

The timing of the new texts to Meadows raised the prospect that Trump’s tweet moved ahead several plans that worked in concert, with the Republican objections about supposed fraud giving Pence a pretext to throw out Biden votes as rioters obstructed proceedings.

Research contact: @guardian

January 6 committee’s Thompson: ‘No choice’ but to seek contempt charges against Meadows

December 9, 2021

The House committee investigating the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol plans to move forward with contempt proceedings against former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows for his  decision not to cooperate with the panel’s requests, reports NBC News.

Representative Bennie Thompson ( D-Mississippi), the chairman of the committee, wrote in a letter to Meadows’ attorney, George Terwilliger III, on Tuesday night, December 7, that the committee “is left with no choice but to advance contempt proceedings and recommend that the body in which Mr. Meadows once served refer him for criminal prosecution.”

The committee was scheduled to hold a deposition with Meadows on Wednesday, December 8, but he was not expected to show up. Before serving in the Trump White House, Meadows served in the House from 2013 until March 2020.

Thompson said there is “no legitimate basis” for Meadows’ refusal to cooperate with the committee and answer questions about the documents he had already provided to lawmakers. The chairman said those include “a text message exchange with a member of Congress apparently about appointing alternate electors in certain states as part of a plan that the member acknowledged would be ‘highly controversial’ and to which Mr. Meadows apparently said, ‘I love it.’”

“They also feature a text exchange in January 2021 between Meadows and an organizer of the January 6 “Stop the Steal” rally on the White House Ellips; as well as text messages about the need for former President Donald Trump to issue a public statement that could have stopped the January 6 attack on the Capitol,” Thompson wrote.

Thompson said his committee has repeatedly tried to identify the areas of inquiry that Meadows believes are protected by executive privilege, but neither Terwilliger nor Meadows have “meaningfully provided that information.”Hi

He added that he had given Meadows opportunities to comply with the committee and questioned how the former White House chief of staff could produce documents–but then decide not to appear for a deposition to answer questions about them.

Thompson also questioned how Meadows released a new book in which he wrote about January 6, but is “denying a congressional committee the opportunity to ask him about the attack on our Capitol.” That “marks an historic and aggressive defiance of Congress,” Thompson wrote.

The letter came after Meadows said earlier Tuesday that he would no longer cooperate with the committee, which prompted the panel to threaten contempt proceedings.

Research contact: @NBCNews

Trump intended to fire Esper over troops dispute

June 11, 2020

Only “yes men” get tenure in the Trump White House. President Donald Trump last week was on the verge of firing Defense Secretary Mark Esper—who has held his position officially for less than one year—over their differing views about domestic use of active-duty military. However, advisers and allies on Capitol Hill talked him out of it, according to several officials who talked exclusively to The Wall Street Journal.

The officials said that Trump was furious with Esper for not supporting his intent to use active-duty troops to quell protests in Washington, D.C., Minneapolis and elsewhere following the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25.

The discord surfaced, the Journal said, when Esper said on June 3 that he didn’t think using federal troops in American streets was warranted at that time. The comments, made in an opening statement at a news conference at the Pentagon, echoed his remarks the night before in an NBC interview. The news conference comments weren’t vetted beforehand by the White House, and the statement caught officials there off guard, two officials said.

“The option to use active-duty forces in a law enforcement role should only be used as a matter of last resort,” the defense secretary said at that time. “And only in the most urgent and dire of situations. We are not in one of those situations now.”

The disagreement between the two reflected the extent of differences on the issue of active-duty troops between the president and the Pentagon, where military and defense leaders were adamantly opposed to deploying federal forces to contain protesters as fundamentally at odds with military values.

A decision to fire the Pentagon chief that day also would have meant a major shake-up in the administration amid one of the biggest security crises of Trump’s presidency, the Journal noted.

The president asked several advisers for their opinion of the disagreement, with the objective that day of removing Esper, his fourth defense secretary, according to the officials. After talks with the advisers, who cautioned against the move, Trump set aside the plans to immediately fire Esper, the Journal reports.

At the same time, however, Esper, who was well aware of  the president’s feelings, was making his own preparations to resign—partly in frustration over the differences regarding the role of the military, the officials said. He had begun to prepare a letter of resignation before he was persuaded not to do so by aides and other advisers, according to some of the officials.

As advisers scrambled to avert the upheaval, Trump’s June 1 threat to send military forces into American cities emerged as a flashpoint, provoking national debate and drawing condemnation from onetime Trump aides.

Approximately 1,600 federal troops brought to the Washington, D.C., area were at that time poised for possible deployment in what was widely seen as a crossroads for the United States.

The officials said that President Trump and White House officials also were perturbed by Mr. Esper’s public comments indicating he didn’t know that a June 1 walk by. Trump and an entourage of officials that included Esper was set up for the purpose of taking photographs by a church near the White House that had been damaged in violence. Security forces including the National Guard forcibly removed protesters to allow for the photo session.

Advisers consulted by Mr. Trump that day included White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows; Secretary of State Mike Pompeo; longtime Trump friend and outside adviser David Urban; and Senators Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) and James Inhofe (R-Oklahoma), the officials said.

Research contact: @wsjournal