Mark Meadows, Trump's former chief of staff, suddenly backs out of cooperating with Jan. 6 probe

While Meadows will not assist the committee, Marc Short, Mike Pence's ex-chief of staff, has agreed to cooperate

By Rocio Fabbro

Published December 7, 2021 12:21PM (EST)

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows speaks to the press in Statuary Hall at the Capitol on August 22, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Gabriella Demczuk/Getty Images)
White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows speaks to the press in Statuary Hall at the Capitol on August 22, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Gabriella Demczuk/Getty Images)

Former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows will no longer comply with the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, his lawyer told Fox News on Tuesday, despite having previously agreed to cooperate.

Meadows, a top ally to former president Donald Trump, and his attorney George Terwilliger, plan to notify the special committee on Tuesday morning that they will discontinue their assistance. Terwilliger told Fox that his client could not reach a final agreement with the committee due to their intent to look into Meadows' phone records and pursue topics which Terwilliger claims fall under executive privilege. CNN, which broke the initial story of Meadows' tentative cooperation with the investigation only a week ago, referred to the move as a "critical shift" in the relationship between Meadows and the panel. At the time, they also noted just how precarious the agreement would be, until the two sides agreed on a definition of "privileged information."


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"We have made efforts over many weeks to reach an accommodation with the committee," Terwilliger told Fox.

Other top Trump aides have fallen in hot water for their lack of cooperation, including former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon. In mid-November, Bannon was charged with criminal contempt of Congress for defying two subpoenas issued by the committee. The Justice Department's decision to issue the orders, which demanded that he testify and turn over pertinent documents as part of the investigation into the insurrection, has now left Bannon susceptible to over a year in jail. Prosecutors have since said they only need one day to present their case against the former adviser to the jury, pushing for a mid-April date. Meanwhile, Bannon and his legal team are scrambling to push the trial back until October.

​​"This case raises complex constitutional issues of first impression," wrote Bannon in a recent court filing submitted by both parties on Monday night. "Some of these issues involve inter-branch relationships and on the operations of the U.S. government at its highest levels. There is no basis for having these issues adjudicated on a rushed basis."


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When asked how Meadows would handle a similar indictment if it were brought against him, Terwilliger told Fox they will "cross that bridge when we come to it."

And while Meadows has backed away from the investigation, another top aide from the former administration has agreed to cooperate with the committee: former vice president Mike Pence's ex-chief of staff, Marc Short.

Short, one of the highest-ranking Trump officials and a close adviser to Pence, is set to provide extremely valuable insight into the inner workings of the White House on the day of the insurrection. Having been with Pence for the majority of Jan. 6, Short will serve as a firsthand account of several key moments from the day, including Trump's attempts to coerce the former vice president not to certify the results of the election.

And it appears that going to Pence aides has been a more fruitful route for the panel.

A source told CNN that the committee is getting "significant cooperation from Team Pence." Another claimed that Short's cooperation is an indication of the "momentum" the investigation is gaining behind closed doors, particularly from the Pence camp. Several sources familiar with the matter have told CNN that individuals close to Pence could be willing to provide critical information about Trump's attempts to overturn the 2020 election, either voluntarily or under the pretense of a "friendly subpoena."


Rocio Fabbro

Rocio Fabbro is an Editorial Intern with Salon's News & Politics desk and an undergraduate student at New York University. Follow her on Twitter @rociofabbro.

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Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Capitol Riots Donald Trump Jan. 6 Marc Short Mark Meadows Mike Pence