Representative Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) has reportedly argued that ex-Trump aide Mark Meadows is stalling by launching a lawsuit against Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-California) and the January 6 House Select Committee.
Meadows, who served as White House chief of staff during the waning days of former President Donald Trump‘s administration, filed the lawsuit on Wednesday after reversing course on earlier indications that he would cooperate with a subpoena from the committee. Kinzinger, who alongside Representative Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) is one of only two Republicans to serve on the committee, reacted to the lawsuit by saying that it “sounds like” Meadows is “trying to delay,” according to The Guardian reporter Hugo Lowell.
The House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol, Pelosi and each individual member including Kinzinger and Committee Chair Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), are named in the lawsuit. The suit claims that the committee does not have the “legal authority” to issue a subpoena to Meadows, who was said to have been acting “in good faith” in his dealings with the committee before being “blindsided” by a letter from his cell phone carrier Verizon on December 4.
The letter from Verizon informed Meadows the company would be turning over all of its data from his personal cell phone that had accumulated from October 1, 2020 to January 31, 2021, by December 15, in the absence of a court order preventing the company from doing so. The lawsuit complains that the “breadth and invasiveness” of the subpoena “gave the appearance of a criminal investigation, not a legislative fact-finding mission.”
The suit argues that the subpoenas issued to Meadows and Verizon are not valid because Pelosi did not choose Republican committee members following consultation with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.). Although McCarthy did nominate five GOP House members to serve on the committee, he withdrew the nominations after Pelosi rejected two of his picks. The suit also asserts that the Verizon subpoena was “excessively broad” and violates the Stored Communications Act.
Executive privilege is also invoked in the suit, since Meadows was serving under Trump at the time. The former president’s attempts to fight the committee’s subpoenas with executive privilege have not been met with any success.
President Joe Biden, who unambiguously wields executive privilege as the sitting president, declined to evoke the privilege after Trump attempted to block a subpoena to the National Archives. Trump’s attempt to block the subpoena in court was also shot down by a judge who noted that “presidents are not kings, and plaintiff is not president.”
Former Trump adviser Steve Bannon is currently awaiting trial after being hit with criminal contempt charges over defying a subpoena from the committee.
The Jan. 6 committee indicated that it may also move to hold Meadows in contempt, as he did not appear for a deposition that had been planned for Wednesday, possibly opening the door to another round of criminal charges.
“… The Select Committee will be left no choice but to advance contempt proceedings and recommend that the body in which Mr. Meadows once served refer him for criminal prosecution,” Thompson and Committee Vice Chair Cheney said in a joint statement.
Newsweek reached out to Meadows’ attorney for comment.
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