Former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows sued House speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) and the members of the House Select Committee on the January 6 Capitol riot on Wednesday.
The suit asks the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to block enforcement of a committee subpoena for Meadows as well as a subpoena for Verizon to obtain Meadows’s phone records. The nine-member committee is investigating the lead-up to the riot, during which supporters of former president Trump breached the Capitol during the certification of the Electoral College results.
“For months, Mr. Meadows has consistently sought in good faith to pursue an accommodation with the Select Committee whereby it could obtain relevant, non-privileged information,” the suit states.
However, the committee “refused to recognize a former president’s claims of Executive Privilege and instructions to Mr. Meadows to maintain such privilege claims in addressing the Select Committee’s inquiries.” Trump has claimed executive privilege in an attempt to prevent the release of certain White House records subpoenaed by the committee.
The suit concludes that Meadows “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 . . . or, alternatively, unilaterally abandoning the former president’s claims of privileges and immunities.”
Meadows’s attorneys filed suit one day after the January 6 Committee threatened to hold Meadows in criminal contempt of Congress, over Meadows’s refusal to comply with a committee subpoena.
“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,” Committee chairman Bennie Thompson (D., Miss.) wrote in a statement on Tuesday.
Meadows’s attorney, George J. Terwilliger III, wrote in a letter to the committee that the former chief of staff would not comply because of the committee’s subpoena for “information from a third party communications provider,” and a remark by Thompson that “calls into question” the committee’s “fundamental fairness in dealing with witnesses.”