The former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows will now not cooperate with the House committee investigating the deadly attack on the US Capitol on 6 January, an attorney for the former Trump aide told Fox News on Tuesday.
Meadows indicated last week that he would speak to the panel. But on the same day the Guardian broke news of Meadows’ memoir, The Chief’s Chief, in which he detailed Trump’s positive and negative Covid tests and their cover-up before his first debate with Joe Biden last year.
Trump gave Meadows a glowing blurb for his book but news of its contents kicked off a firestorm of controversy and prompted a backlash from Trump towards Meadows.
On Tuesday, the New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman reported that “sources close to Trump say he hates Meadows book and feels betrayed by him”.
Haberman also wrote that Meadows’ “cooperation was always seen as bare minimum. The reality doesn’t change much but timing is notable.”
Meadows’ attorney, George Terwilliger, told Fox News: “We have made efforts over many weeks to reach an accommodation with the committee.”
But he said the committee’s approach to negotiations and to other witnesses meant Meadows would withdraw cooperation.
“The chairman of the committee [Bennie Thompson, a Democrat from Mississippi] … publicly said that another witness’s claiming of the fifth amendment would be tantamount to an admission of guilt,” Terwilliger told Fox News, claiming that called into question “exactly what is going on with this committee”.
That was a reference to Jeffery Clark, a former Department of Justice official who pitched a plan to Trump regarding overturning election results and who, like Meadows, has been threatened with a charge of contempt of Congress if he does not co-operate with the 6 January investigation.
Meadows has claimed executive privilege covers any communications with Trump that the committee may wish to examine.
In the aftermath of reports about his book – the Guardian being first to report that Meadows claims the Capitol riot was the work of “a handful of fanatics” – key members of the committee suggested that by publishing the memoir Meadows had waived any claim to executive privilege protections.
Adam Schiff of California told Politico it was “very possible that by discussing the events of 6 January in his book … [Meadows is] waiving any claim of privilege.
“So, it’d be very difficult for him to maintain ‘I can’t speak about events to you, but I can speak about them in my book.’”
Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, the committee chair, told reporters: “Some of what we plan to ask him is in the excerpts of the book.”
Another former Trump aide, former campaign chairman and White House strategist Steve Bannon, has been charged with criminal contempt of Congress, the first such charge since 1983. Facing a fine and jail time, he has pleaded not guilty.