The judge dismissed Meadows’ lawsuit against the committee on Jan. 6
Meadows is likely to appeal the decision, effectively putting his testimony out of reach of the Jan. 6 selection committee, which is expected to disband at the end of the year. Meadows’ attorney, George Terwilliger, said: “We will review the decision carefully and consider any further steps that may be appropriate.”
The decision, however, could have implications for many of the other lawsuits filed against the Jan. 6 committee by Trump allies — many of which have landed in Nichols’ court.
It’s a significant win for the select committee, but in some ways it’s a caveat. The panel repeatedly told Nichols that he had chosen not to assert his “speech or debate” immunity and wanted the judge — a Donald Trump appointee — to make a broader ruling on Trump’s efforts to assert the privilege executive on Meadows’ testimony. A ruling in favor of the committee would have been an exclamation point in its 14-month investigation, underscoring the panel’s urgent need to hear from Meadows, a central figure in Trump’s effort to subvert the election. of 2020.
The panel has sought testimony from Meadows since September 2021, saying his evidence showed Meadows was a key participant in nearly every aspect of Trump’s scheme to win a second term that he did not win. Meadows has been involved in efforts to stir up mistrust over the election results, coordinating with the Trump campaign on messaging and serving as a gatekeeper for some of Trump’s outside advisers. It was in a January 4, 2021 phone call in which Trump urged Georgia election officials to “find” enough votes to help him win. And he was with Trump on January 6, 2021, when rioters violated the Capitol, and Trump waited hours to make a public statement, despite the urging of allies and lawmakers.
Nichols acknowledged the heavy scope of the select committee’s investigation, but took issue with the panel’s tactics in the case.
For example, Nichols noted that if the committee received a decision it didn’t like, it could simply choose to raise “speech or debate” issues at the appeals court.
“Such an outcome could cause a significant waste of time and resources, especially considering the new constitutional questions this case presents on the merits,” Nichols noted.
Nichols had foreshadowed his frustration with the committee’s approach during a Sept. 7 hearing on the matter, noting that the committee had asserted “speech or debate” immunity in numerous Jan. 6 proceedings.
Meadows argued in his lawsuit that he was immune from congressional subpoenas as a member of Trump’s inner circle, which meant that much of his potential testimony was covered by executive privilege. In fact, Trump had encouraged Meadows to assert executive privilege and sought to prevent him and other aides from providing valuable testimony to the committee.
But the select committee rejected that premise, arguing that Trump, as a former president, had no basis to protect Meadows’ testimony, particularly after incumbent President Joe Biden had waived any privilege claims Meadows attempted to make. will raise Even if Trump had the ability to assert the privilege, the panel argued that his need for Meadows’ testimony was easily great enough to outweigh that assertion.
But Nichols said even with the House’s effort to throw out “speech or debate” immunity — a position with which Meadows largely agreed — the judge said he was required to consider it. He compared “speech or debate” immunity to foreign sovereign immunity, noting that courts will dismiss cases on that basis even when not asserted by litigants.
The judge said that without an express waiver by the House members involved, constitutional immunity applied to the case and called for Meadows’ lawsuit to be dismissed.
Nicholas Wu and Josh Gerstein contributed to this report.
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