Former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows sued Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and every member of the U.S. House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack on Wednesday, claiming that it is unconstitutionally usurping executive branch authority.
The lawsuit, filed in the federal district court for the District of Columbia, came after the chairman, Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-GA), wrote to Meadows’s attorney earlier Wednesday to say that the committee would pursue criminal contempt charges against Meadows.
Letter from Bennie Thompson to Mark Meadows’ attorney concludes:
“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” pic.twitter.com/ahiwtgTaub
— Alayna Treene (@alaynatreene) December 8, 2021
That came after Meadows’s attorney wrote to the committee on Tuesday to say that Meadows could not cooperate with the committee because it was attempting to subpoena his private telephone records from his cell phone provider, Verizon.
The lawsuit states that the committee is demanding that Meadows violate executive privilege and the Constitution, and asking his cell phone provider to break the law:
The Select Committee acts absent any valid legislative power and threatens to violate longstanding principles of executive privilege and immunity that are of constitutional origin and dimension. Without intervention by this Court, Mr. Meadows faces the harm of both being illegally coerced into violating the Constitution and having a third party involuntarily violate Mr. Meadows rights and the requirements of relevant laws governing records of electronic communications.
Meadows’s lawsuit also explains that he wished to comply with the committee, but that it wanted materials he believed he did not have the right to provide under the Constitution:
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. While the Committee and Mr. Meadows engaged over a period of time in an effort to achieve such reasonable accommodation, the Select Committee adamantly refused to recognize the immunity of present and former senior White House aides from being compelled to appear before Congress and likewise 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.
The current President of the United States, through counsel, purported to waive the former president’s claims of privilege and immunity.
As a result, 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. Thus, Mr. Meadows turns to the courts to say what the law is.
The lawsuit argues further that the committee is illegitimate by its own terms: the House resolution establishing the committee provides that “The Speaker shall appoint 13 Members to the Select Committee, 5 of whom shall be appointed after consultation with the minority leader” (emphasis added). Moreover, the resolution says that subpoenas “shall” only be issued in consultation with the committee’s ranking minority member, and there is no ranking minority member.
Meadows’s filing states: “Authorized congressional committees have subpoena authority implied by Article I of the Constitution. … The Select Committee, however, is not an authorized congressional committee because it fails to comport with its own authorizing resolution, House Resolution 503.”
Speaker Pelosi rejected the nominees provided by House Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and chose two members of the minority. As it stands, the committee only has nine members — seven Democrats and two Republicans, both of whom are avowedly anti-Trump.
Democrats maintain that Meadows, who was chief of staff for President Donald Trump, has material information about the January 6 riot at the Capitol. Meadows has not been linked to the riot by any one of hundreds of Department of Justice cases against the participants.
The Department of Justice is prosecuting former Trump aide Stephen K. Bannon for resisting a subpoena on similar constitutional grounds to Meadows’s objection. Bannon wants a court to decide the executive privilege issue before handing over materials to the committee. Ironically, the Department of Justice is attempting to prevent Bannon from making public other materials about the riot, which it provided to him as part of the legal process.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.