Trump Aide Mark Meadows Skips January 6 Testimony Despite Legal Threats

Mark Meadows, who was Donald Trump's chief of staff when a mob of Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to stop the certification of Joe Biden's election, now faces potential criminal or civil action after he apparently didn't show up to a scheduled deposition Friday morning.

U.S. Representative Bennie Thompson, a Mississippi Democrat who is chairing the select committee investigating the January 6 insurrection, had threatened possible action in a Thursday evening letter to Meadows' lawyer, former U.S. Deputy Attorney General George Terwilliger III.

Terwilliger's office told Newsweek in a statement that there is a "sharp legal dispute with the committee."

"No matter how important the subject matter of the committee's work, decades of litigation over executive privilege shows how critically important it is for a president to have access to advice and counsel without fear that political opponents in Congress will later be able to pull away the shield of confidentiality that protects candor in those communications," the statement read.

Meadows was scheduled to testify privately in front of the House panel at 10 a.m. Friday. He has challenged the subpoena, arguing that he has executive privilege—a right afforded to presidents and their allies to maintain confidential discussions and records. Biden's administration declined to extend that privilege to Meadows over the investigation into any role Trump had in the insurrection.

Thompson's office didn't immediately respond to Newsweek's request for comment.

In a letter, publicly released Thursday night, Thompson warned that Meadows' failure to show to Friday's private hearing or failure to release documents "could result in a referral from the House of Representatives to the Department of Justice for criminal charges—as well as the possibility of having a civil action."

"Meadows has not produced even a single document in response to the Select Committee's subpoena," Thompson wrote. "Simply put, there is no valid legal basis for Mr. Meadows's continued resistance to the Select Committee's subpoena."

"The Select Committee will view Mr. Meadows's failure to appear at the deposition, and to produce responsive documents or a privilege log indicating the specific basis for withholding any documents you believe are protected by privilege, as willful non-compliance," Thompson wrote in a letter to Meadows' attorney Thursday evening—just hours after Meadows indicated he wouldn't comply.

Meadows has invoked executive privilege—a right afforded to presidents to maintain confidential records. Biden's administration has said it will not extend that privilege to Meadows or to other Trump allies from which House investigators are seeking information.

Trump tried to argue, without evidence, that the election was "rigged" against him and refused to concede to Biden. Some of Trump's supporters still back the unfounded claim that the election will be overturned.

Meadows was a congressman from North Carolina and one of Trump's key allies on Capitol Hill before he was tapped to be Trump's chief of staff in March 2020. He held in the position until Trump left office in January 2021 and during the Capitol riot. He was reportedly a key figure in opposing the certification of Biden's election.

Mark Meadows ignores 1/6 commission subpeona
White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows has ignored requests from the House panel investigating the January 6 Capitol riots for information on what he knew that day. Above, Meadows greets supporters before then-President Donald Trump speaks at a rally on October 31, 2020, in Newtown, Pennsylvania. Mark Makela/Getty Images