Former Trump White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows failed to appear on Friday for a scheduled deposition before the House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol despite the committee’s threats to pursue criminal contempt charges.
Sources familiar with the investigation told CNN that committee staff expected Mr. Meadows to show up for questioning, but departed the room reserved for the deposition nine minutes after Mr. Meadows was scheduled to appear.
The committee has not responded to The Washington Times’ request for comment.
In a letter on Thursday to Mr. Meadows’ lawyer, George Terwilliger III, Committee Chairman Rep. Bennie Thompson said Mr. Meadows has no legal standing to ignore the committee’s demands.
“Simply put, there is no valid legal basis for Mr. Meadows’s continued resistance to the Select Committee’s subpoena,” wrote Mr. Thompson, Mississippi Democrat.
The letter followed Mr. Terwilliger’s assertion that Mr. Meadows remained “immune” from the committee’s probe, citing former President Donald Trump’s claims of executive privilege. Mr. Thompson dismissed that claim outright.
“The law requires that Mr. Meadows comply with the subpoena absent an applicable immunity or valid assertion of a Constitutionally based privilege,” Mr. Thompson wrote.
Mr. Terwilliger hinted Friday that his client would not appear before the deposition, despite Mr. Thompson’s letter.
“Legal disputes are appropriately resolved by courts,” said Mr. Terwilliger in a statement. “It would be irresponsible for Mr. Meadows to prematurely resolve that dispute by voluntarily waiving privileges that are at the heart of those legal issues.”
The work of the committee, which is focused on the riot and the events leading up to a pro-Trump mob storming the Capitol, has become a fight over subpoenas and depositions.
The Democratic-run House last month voted to hold former Trump adviser Steve Bannon in criminal contempt after he failed to appear for a deposition before the committee.
Mr. Bannon’s lawyer, Robert Costello, told the panel before his scheduled deposition that his client would not participate. He also cited the former president’s assertion of executive privilege.
The committee made similar threats against former Department of Justice official Jeffrey Clark after he refused to answer questions during his deposition last week.
Mr. Meadows was subpoenaed by the committee in late September. Mr. Thompson said Thursday that Mr. Meadows has yet to provide documents related to the probe.
Mr. Trump has sued federal officials over the release of documents related to the Jan. 6 probe. His legal team said in the lawsuit that the House committee has “no legitimate legislative purpose” for its request.
The legal team also continues to press its claim that, as a former president, Mr. Trump enjoys “inherent constitutional rights of privilege.”
Mr. Trump’s initial request for an injunction was denied by U.S. District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan on Tuesday. But a federal appeals court on Thursday granted Mr. Trump’s emergency motion for an injunction to halt the National Archive’s release of White House records to the committee.
-This article is based in part on wire-service reporting.