Nancy Pelosi’s grand inquisition into the barbarian self-guided tour of the Nation’s Capitol Building, on January 6, is furious with former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. He dared to do the unthinkable and flip the whole panel the bird. On the advice of his lawyers, he refused to show up for a virtual torture session of questioning in their lair. The Deep State inquisitors are thinking about doing something about it.
Mark Meadows stands tough
Mark Meadows doesn’t give a flying fig that Pelosi may file criminal contempt charges for his failure to appear at their ambush. He’s not the first to flip them the bad finger.
The panel’s figurehead chairman, Bennie Thompson, has had to threaten two others with contempt already. They can threaten all they want. Making the charges stick in court is a whole different story. The lawyers on both sides are working their staff on overdrive to put the cases together.
Merrick Garland may actually have to shift the main focus of FBI investigations. From angry parents to insurrection subpoena holdouts. Before Meadows joined the revolution, former Trump associate Steve Bannon told them where to stick the paperwork they sent him last month.
He’s already been indicted on the contempt of Congress rap. It will be interesting to see what happens in court. The feds are using it to test the waters. A second set of contempt charges is still pending against former assistant attorney general Jeffrey Clark. They’re “under consideration” Thompson mutters. How can they have a successful fishing trip if the fish won’t cooperate by swimming into the net?
The key of the issue is executive privilege. Things affecting the way the White House runs the country can be shielded from the public. A brand new issue which never came up before has all the beltway scholars picking sides and trotting out their favorite legal citations.
If Trump was president today, he could say the material they want Meadows and the others to talk about is covered by that privilege. He has already asked for it. Biden can say that too, if he wants to. He doesn’t. Up until now, as a courtesy, whenever a former president “requested” the privilege be applied, the current administration rubber stamped it. Not this time.
Neither side clearly right
Until the dust settles around the constitutional ramifications of what’s in play, neither side can say for sure that they’re right. In the case of Bannon, a line has been drawn in the sand. Meadows and his attorneys are watching closely but not saying a word.
Palace prosecutor Jonathan Su made it official on the eve of the deposition that Biden “will not assert executive privilege or immunity over the documents and deposition requested by the House Select committee related to his client.”
Thompson and the panel take the position that without Biden’s approval, “there is no valid legal basis for Mr. Meadows’ continued resistance to the Select Committee’s subpoena.”
They ordered him to make sure he brought along “all responsive documents and appear for deposition testimony” Friday morning. He didn’t. He told them where they could shove it though.
Thompson is now jumping up and down in agonized fury trying to decide if he should pursue a possibly unconstitutional course of action which could blow up in his face, or back down and give in. A third possibility is civil action instead of criminal contempt.
That would be a sneaky way to sidestep the main issue by having a judge “enforce the subpoena.” Unless they get out a waterboard and start interrogating him with a blowtorch, Meadows insists, he’s not talking. “Mr. Meadows remains under the instructions of former President Trump to respect longstanding principles of executive privilege. It now appears the courts will have to resolve this conflict.”