WASHINGTON (CN) — Former Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows sued House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Jan. 6 select committee on Wednesday in an attempt to block two subpoenas that he claims are “overly broad and unduly burdensome.”
The lawsuit comes on the heels of Meadows’ refusal to appear for a scheduled deposition before the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, and his announcement that he would no longer cooperate with the investigation.
Committee chairman Bennie Thompson quickly issued a letter informing Meadows — a critical player in their investigation — that he has no choice but to pursue a criminal contempt referral.
“As a result, 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 reads.
Meadows has already provided nearly 6,000 pages of documents, personal emails and texts to the committee regarding Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election results, but now, Meadows claims the committee has gone too far.
The lawsuit, signed by George Terwilliger of McGuireWoods LLP, says that Meadows believed that the committee would “act in good faith” but was “blindsided” when he learned that the committee subpoenaed Verizon for his personal phone records. On Saturday, Verizon told Meadows that it would comply with the subpoena unless Meadows challenged it by Dec. 15.
“Allowing an entirely partisan select committee of Congress to subpoena the personal cell phone data of executive officials would work a massive chilling of current and future executive branch officials’ associational and free speech rights,” the lawsuit states.
Meadows claims that he, as well as other former White House staff, have immunity from being compelled to appear before Congress, and Trump has an executive privilege to shield certain records from the public’s view — an issue that is currently being litigated through a separate lawsuit that Trump brought against the committee to block their records requests.
He also claims the Jan. 6 select committee lacks the authority to issue subpoenas or obtain his phone records from a third party. And, Meadows said, the newly-requested records wouldn’t turn up any new information, anyway.
“Even if [it] had a valid reason to seek protected information, the Committee has put in place no safeguards to protect Mr. Meadows’ rights,” the lawsuit states. “It provided Mr. Meadows with no notice of the subpoena and has provided him with no opportunity to assert claims of privilege or other legal protections over the demanded information.”
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