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Mark Meadows asks Supreme Court to quickly weigh in on Trump's Jan. 6 lawsuit

A ruling in Trump's favor could affect Meadows' contempt of Congress proceedings, his lawyer said.
Image: Mark Meadows
Then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows speaks with reporters at the White House in September 2020.Alex Brandon / AP file

Former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows on Friday asked the Supreme Court to weigh in on former President Donald Trump's request to shield his White House records from the House panel investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, contending that a ruling in Trump's favor could affect Meadows.

In an amicus brief, first reported by Politico, Meadows' lawyer, George J. Terwilliger III, urged the Supreme Court to consider Trump's request to block his records from Jan. 6 investigators — and to do so quickly.

"A prompt answer is important because, however the Court rules, its ruling will guide the parties in all of the related disputes," including Meadows and other witnesses who've pushed back against subpoenas from the committee, Terwilliger wrote in the filing.

The House voted last month to refer Meadows to the Justice Department for a potential contempt of Congress charge after he refused to answer questions about the Jan. 6 attack.

The committee has asked for a trove of documents related to the events surrounding the riot, including records of communication between the Trump administration and the Justice Department leading up to Jan. 6. Trump objected, asserting executive privilege, but President Joe Biden declined to back up his claim. Instead, Biden directed the National Archives to hand over the material.

Trump asked the Supreme Court last month to block the National Archives from turning over the records, after the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled that his claim of executive privilege wasn't strong enough to overcome Biden's decision that Congress has a legitimate need for the material. The lower court's ruling was stayed to give Trump's lawyers time to appeal.

Trump's legal team said that the lower courts were wrong to find that the panel had a legitimate legislative purpose in seeking the documents, and that the real purpose is to seek embarrassing information about the former president.

Terwilliger argued that a former White House chief of staff "cannot be compelled to appear for questioning," and that Meadows is "not licensed to waive Executive Privilege claimed by the former president."

The Supreme Court has not said whether it will hear the appeal and there is no deadline for the court to act. The Jan. 6 committee asked the court last month to expedite its consideration of Trump's lawsuit "because of the indisputable importance and urgency of the select committee's investigation."

"Delay would inflict a serious injury on the select committee and the public" because it needs the documents "to help shape the direction of the investigation," the panel said in a filing.

In his brief filed Friday, Meadows agreed the court should act swiftly but for different reasons.

If the judges were to find that Trump "has a valid claim of privilege which President Biden cannot waive, or that the Select Committee is not pursuing a valid legislative purpose, then the Select Committee would need to narrow its investigation (or at least go back to the drawing board) in a way that might moot much of the pending litigation," Terwilliger wrote in the filing.