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Mark Meadows is suing the Jan. 6 committee as it moves to hold him in contempt

Former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows pictured on Capitol Hill in 2020. He was among the first Trump administration officials to be subpoenaed by the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.
Stefani Reynolds
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Former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows pictured on Capitol Hill in 2020. He was among the first Trump administration officials to be subpoenaed by the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

Updated December 9, 2021 at 5:33 PM ET

Former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows is suing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the House panel probing the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

The 43-page complaint, filed in U.S. District Court in Washington on Wednesday, asks a judge to block enforcement of the two subpoenas the committee had issued for himself and his telecom provider Verizon, calling them "overly broad and unduly burdensome" and saying the panel "lacks lawful authority" to obtain such information.

As NPR has reported, Meadows was one of the first Trump administration officials to be subpoenaed back in late September, though his deposition was delayed as he engaged with the committee.

Last week, he said he would provide documents and appear in front of the committee for an initial deposition. But he abruptly reversed course on Tuesday, a day before the scheduled deposition, saying he would no longer cooperate with the investigation.

His lawyer cited concerns about executive privilege, which former President Donald Trump and his associates say should protect them from disclosing confidential communications — even though President Bidenwaived executive privilege claims in Meadows' case.

Trump sued the committee in October to block the National Archives from releasing presidential records related to Jan. 6, and the U.S. Court of Appeals in the D.C. Circuit ruled against him on Thursday.

Meadows' lawsuit points to those conflicting claims.

"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," it reads.

Separately, the committee says it has several questions about records that Meadows handed over to the committee with no claim of privilege (including about real-time communications with individuals as the events of Jan. 6 unfolded).

House Select Committee Chair Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., and Vice Chair Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., said in a statement that if Meadows failed to appear at Wednesday's deposition, it would have no option other than "to advance contempt proceedings and recommend that the body in which Mr. Meadows once served refer him for criminal prosecution."

The committee doubled down in a statement on Wednesday night.

"Mr. Meadows's flawed lawsuit won't succeed at slowing down the Select Committee's investigation or stopping us from getting the information we're seeking," it wrote. "The Select Committee will meet next week to advance a report recommending that the House cite Mr. Meadows for contempt of Congress and refer him to the Department of Justice for prosecution."

It said late Thursday that it will meet on Monday to consider the contempt referral against Meadows.

The committee has made two contempt referrals so far, for former Trump Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark and former Trump adviser Steve Bannon, who was indicted last month on two counts of contempt of Congress. He has pleaded not guilty.

This story originally appeared on the Morning Edition live blog.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Rachel Treisman (she/her) is a writer and editor for the Morning Edition live blog, which she helped launch in early 2021.

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