We are beginning to think that maybe Mark Meadows isn't that bright. And not only because he seems to have believed that Donald Trump would be delighted to be outed as a possible COVID superspreader. More even than that, the former White House chief of staff seems determined to step on all the rakes in his effort to give a middle finger to the House January 6 Select Committee while being just compliant enough to avoid a criminal charge for contempt of Congress.
Yesterday Meadows's lawyer George Terwilliger III announced that his client was no longer cooperating with the Select Committee.
"In short, we now have every indication from the information supplied to us last Friday — upon which Mr. Meadows could expect to be questioned — that the Select Committee has no intention of respecting boundaries concerning Executive Privilege," he huffed in a letter to Committee Chair Bennie Thompson. In case that wasn't totally clear, Terwilliger is bigly mad that his client was going to be asked questions he didn't want to answer, and so they blew off the scheduled deposition today.
So far, so Fuck Around And Find Out.
But before they stomped off, Terwilliger and Meadows gave a shit ton of requested documents to the committee, along with a privilege log describing what was being withheld and why. And, as Committee Chair Bennie Thompson pointed out in his response to Terwilliger, that's an implicit acknowledgement that some portion of what the Committee wants to ask Meadows about is not covered by any plausible (or sham) invocation of privilege.
It also contained some pretty damning stuff:
Despite your very broad claims of privilege, Mr. Meadows has also produced documents that you apparently agree are relevant and not protected by any privilege at all. Those documents include: a November 7, 2020 email discussing the appointment of alternate slates of electors as part of a “direct and collateral attack” after the election; a January 5, 2021 email regarding a 38-page PowerPoint briefing titled “Election Fraud, Foreign Interference & Options for 6 JAN” that was to be provided "on the hill”; and, among others, a January 5, 2021 email about having the National Guard on standby.
What kind of "collateral attack" on the Electoral College did you have in mind, Mr. Meadows?
Meadows has not only acknowledged that his communications with Congress and non-executive branch employees fall outside of any privilege, he's given the Select Committee visibility onto his own actions in the White House and his awareness that shit might get totally out of hand.
But wait, there's more!
The text messages you did produce include a November 6, 2020, text 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”; an early January 2021 text message exchange between Mr. Meadows and an organizer of the January 6th rally on the Ellipse; and text messages about the need for for the former President to issue a public statement that could have stopped the January 6th attack on the Capitol.
First of all, how does a person type "I love it" while plotting to overthrow Democracy and not think back on Don Jr.'s infamous Trump Tower meeting with that Russian spy? Second of all, YOU DUMB SON OF A BITCH how many thousand times did you violate the Stringer Bell Rule?
And, oh, by the way, if Meadows has documents on his phone that are covered by executive privilege, then those documents are by definition government records which should be in the hands of the National Archives. So if they aren't, it means that Meadows failed to comply with federal law and turn them over. DOH!
It is also worth noting that your identification of executive privilege issues with documents that came from Mr. Meadows’ personal email account and personal cell phone raises the question of whether these materials have been transferred to the National Archives in compliance with the Presidential Records Act.
Which is perhaps an explanation for why Meadows doesn't want to come in and talk about it with the Select Committee, but it's not an excuse. As Thompson points out, the way to invoke privilege is to show up and invoke it: "If you appear, the Select Committee would consider and evaluate your assertion of any privilege. Your failure to do so prevents that evaluation, which brings us once again to a consideration of enforcement options."
Instead of going the full Bannon and totally stonewalling, Meadows, a former Member of Congress who knows how this shit goes, handed over a bunch of incriminating documents, and then made the belated decision to stonewall after all. And — AND! — he's all over television now talking about his conversations at the White House, and his book about his time in the White House was released yesterday. Good luck claiming privilege for shit you've flapped your yap about on Hannity.
There is no legitimate legal basis for Mr. Meadows to refuse to cooperate with the Select Committee and answer questions about the documents he produced, the personal devices and accounts he used, the events he wrote about in his newly released book, and, among other things, his other public statements. The Select 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.
So he's now handed over documents the committee can use against him, and he's still going to wind up being held in contempt because he's too much of a punk bitch to come in and invoke that privilege on the record!
Truly, galaxy brain moves here.
And PS, if these privileged documents are living on Meadows's personal device, not to say one which he claims he traded in when he upgraded his device in November, doesn't he have to go directly to email jail under the Hillary Clinton standard he and his Republican brethren endorsed?
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