Monday, December 13, 2021

House committee shines light on Mark Meadows' role in Jan. 6 planning, raising questions about Oval Office coordination with Stop the Steal rally organizers

Mark Meadows, former Trump chief of staff

How close did organizers for the Jan. 6 Stop the Steal rally get to the Trump Oval Office? A report late last week from Salon suggests the answer is "pretty darned close." Was one of those organizers Alabama-connected right-wing extremist Ali Alexander? Given that Alexander has described himself as chief organizer of the rally, which turned into a deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol, the answer likely is "yes." How does Salon's reporting, along with that from a bombshell Rolling Stone piece in October, square with Alexander's testimony last Thursday before the U.S. House Select Committee on Jan. 6? Given that Alexander's testimony was conducted behind closed doors, we probably won't know the answer to that for a while. 

But Salon's report, dated Dec. 8, certainly raises plenty of questions about possible coordination between rally organizers and the Trump administration. Writes reporter Brett Bachman:

The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riot is moving forward with contempt charges against former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, saying in a letter that it has "no choice" after he decided to stop cooperating with the Democratic-led probe. 

According to the letter, which contains a number of new details about Meadows' previous cooperation with the committee, the Trump Administration official has already turned over thousands of documents, including numerous emails and text messages. But he's also withheld thousands more — and refused to sit for a deposition scheduled for Wednesday — using claims of executive privilege that the committee says are spurious at best.

"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," committee Chair Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., wrote in the letter Tuesday. "There is no legitimate legal basis for Mr. Meadows to refuse to participate in a deposition."

Meadows already has provided the committee with some alarming information:

Included in the documents Meadows handed over to the select committee is a powerpoint titled "Election Fraud, Foreign Interference & Options for 6 JAN" that was intended for distribution "on the hill," according to the letter. Thompson also revealed the contents of a Nov. 6, 2020 email to an unnamed Congressperson in which Meadows replies "I love it" in response to a "highly controversial" plan that would have appointed alternative electors in several states that Trump had lost. 

Meadows was also allegedly in contact with one of the organizers of the Jan. 6 "Stop the Steal" rally which preceded the riot.

That last items suggests Meadows might have been working in alignment with Stop the Steal organizers -- and that could open a line of inquiry about Alexander and his allies. It also could help explain why Alexander's deposition took eight hours -- and maybe why the deponent appeared more grim-faced coming out of the proceeding than he did going in. Here's more from Salon about the documents Meadows provided, which appear to be a mixed bag:

These were among the more than 6,000 files Meadows gave the committee, though he also included a log of more than 1,000 text messages and hundreds of emails that were withheld "based on claims of executive, attorney-client, or other privilege."

Thompson's letter also raised another point about Meadows' data collection — since so many of the documents were from personal accounts, Thompson questioned whether Meadows had transferred the proper documents to the National Archives "in compliance with the Presidential Records Act."

For his part, Meadows looks ready to fight the contempt charges in court.

"We now have every indication from the information supplied to us last Friday -- upon which Mr. Meadows could expect to be questioned -- that the Select Committee has no intention of respecting boundaries concerning Executive Privilege," Meadows' attorney George J. Terwilliger III said in a letter to the committee last week.

Thompson's letter was in part a response to these assertions, and in particular addressed previous comments by Terwilliger in which he accused Thompson of believing "that a witness's assertion of 5th Amendment rights is 'tantamount to an admission of guilt. . . .'"

It's unclear whether Meadows will seek to use his 5th Amendment rights — though at least two other witnesses under scrutiny from the committee have said they will: longtime GOP operative Roger Stone and ed-DOJ official Jeffrey Clark. 


legalschnauzer said...

Mark Meadows is big news all over the country today. Will be interesting to see if committee is able to tie him to Ali Alexander & Co.

Anonymous said...

No wonder Meadows decided to quit cooperating. The committee has his nuts in a vice.

legalschnauzer said...

CNN: Meadows said National Guard would be ready to 'protect pro Trump people' before Capitol insurrection, House investigators say
Zachary Cohen

Former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows sent an email saying the National Guard would be present to 'protect pro Trump people' in the lead up to the US Capitol insurrection, according to a new report released by the January 6 committee Sunday night. . . .

Additionally, the committee notes that Meadows "exchanged text messages with, and provided guidance to, an organizer of the January 6th rally on the Ellipse after the organizer told him that '[t]hings have gotten crazy and I desperately need some direction.'"
If Meadows was still cooperating, the committee also said it would inquire about a text exchange with a media personality "who had encouraged the presidential statement asking people to, quote, 'peacefully leave the Capitol,'" as well as a text sent "to one of— by one of the President's family members indicating that Mr. Meadows is, quote, 'pushing hard,' end quote, for a statement from President Trump to, quote, 'condemn this shit,' end quote, happening at the Capitol."
The committee has previously sought communications between Meadows and certain rally organizers as the panel remains focused on identifying any level of coordination with the Trump White House. The report goes on to note that Meadows was directly involved in efforts to overturn the election results in key swing states Trump lost and helped push unfounded claims about voter fraud.

legalschnauzer said...

CNN: Lawyer says Meadows received, but did nothing, with document that detailed ways to undermine the 2020 election, per New York Times:

A lawyer for Mark Meadows says the former Trump White House chief of staff was the recipient of a PowerPoint document detailing ways to undermine the count of the 2020 election but did nothing with it, according to the New York Times.
The 38-page document, which is among thousands of pages of materials Meadows provided to the House committee investigating the January 6 insurrection at the US Capitol, was initially circulated by a retired Army colonel who was working to challenge the results, according to the Times. CNN has not independently verified the contents of the PowerPoint.
Phil Waldron, a retired colonel who spread misinformation about election fraud in the presidential election, told the Times that he circulated the PowerPoint among allies of former President Donald Trump, including lawmakers on Capitol Hill. Waldron told the Times that he did not directly send the document to Meadows, but that it was possible someone on his team had passed it along to the former chief of staff.

legalschnauzer said...

Raw Story:

The House select committee issued a report Sunday night recommending contempt charges for Mark Meadows that revealed a blueprint for a coup and the coverup to follow.

Donald Trump's allies -- including Meadows, his White House chief of staff -- were frantically covering up the former president's reaction to the Jan. 6 insurrection as the mob was attacking police and invading the U.S. Capitol, and Washington Post columnist Greg Sargent said the report shows some of the topics Meadows was afraid to testify about.

"We know from press accounts, such as this Post report, that Trump watched the violent assault unfold on TV and ignored many frantic pleas that he step in," Sargent wrote. "One Trump adviser told The Post that Trump was enjoying the spectacle of his followers fighting on his behalf."

That runs contrary to Meadows' recently published book, which ludicrously claims Trump was "mortified" by the mob violence, and contradicts reporting that House minority leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) called the former president as rioters tried to break into his office and begged him to call them off.

"Could it be that Meadows does not want to confirm these reports that Trump enjoyed the spectacle of the mob threatening extreme violence to lawmakers who were in process of making his loss official, and that Trump even treated their cause as a just one?" Sargent wrote.

legalschnauzer said...

National Memo:

A little-known Trump supporter and billionaire heiress of Publix is facing a federal investigation for her alleged role in financing the coordinated efforts to storm the U.S. Capitol.

According to The Washington Post, Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-MI), the chairman of the House Select Committee investigating the Capitol riots has indicated that an investigative probe is being focused on Julie Fancelli —the 72-year-old daughter of Publix grocery store chain founder, George W. Jenkins— and her financial influence which contributed to the Capitol riots coming to fruition.

Fancelli, who reportedly lives a relatively quiet like in Florida, is said to have donated a total of $650,000 to three different right-wing organizations that participated in the Jan. 6 insurrection. Initially, investigators calculated approximately $300,000 that Fancelli allegedly wired to the organizations. But, now that suspected amount has more than doubled. The timeline of her donations has also been revealed: