Bennie Thompson Will Need to Bill FBI for the Affidavits He’s Writing for Them

Before Mark Meadows decided to renege on his partial cooperation with the January 6 Committee, according to a letter Chairman Bennie Thompson wrote his lawyer, George Terwilliger, Meadows had already turned over the following:

  • A number of emails sent from Meadows’ personal email account, as well as a privilege log withholding “several hundred” documents from his email account citing Executive, Attorney-Client, or other privileges. Those emails include:
    • A November 7, 2020 email discussing the appointment of alternate slates of electors as part of a “direct and collateral attack” after the election
    • A January 5, 2021 email about a 38-page PowerPoint briefing entitled, “Election Fraud, Foreign Interference, & Options for 6 JAN” that was to be shared “on the hill”
    • A January 5, 2021 email about having the National Guard on standby
  • Some text messages Meadows retained before he got rid of his personal phone while a criminal investigation was pending, as well as a privilege log invoking Executive, Attorney-Client, and other privileges withholding over 1,000 texts. The texts turned over include:
    • A November 6, 2020 text with a Member of Congress about appointing alternate electors as part of a plan that the Member acknowledged would be “highly controversial” about which, Meadows said, “I love it”
    • A January 2021 text message with an organizer of the January 6 rally at the Ellipse
    • Text messages about the need for the former President to issue a public statement that could have stopped the January 6th attack on the Capitol

According to Thompson, having turned over some fairly damning stuff, Meadows reneged on cooperating for two reasons: First, because the Committee intended to force him to invoke individualized privilege claims in response to questions. And perhaps even moreso, because the Committee filed a subpoena with Meadows’ cell phone carrier for “call data records.”

Indeed, a lawsuit Meadows filed after negotiations broke down yesterday is particularly concerned about the subpoena to Verizon, which he describes this way:

The Verizon subpoena, issued by the Select Committee on November 22, 2021, instructs Verizon to produce subscriber information and cell phone data associated with Mr. Meadows’s personal cell phone number. The subscriber information requested includes subscriber names and contact information, authorized users, time of service provided, account changes, associated IP addresses, and other metadata. The cell phone data requested could include all calls, text messages, and other records of communications associated with that phone number. This data can be used for historic cell site analysis. The Verizon subpoena requested all Mr. Meadows’ personal cell phone data for four months: from October 1, 2020 and January 31, 2021.

Meadows says that, given his provision of texts and a privilege log, the only thing that Verizon subpoena would show is his IP logins.

The Verizon subpoena seeks Mr. Meadows’ cell phone metadata, despite the fact that he has already provided the Select Committee with his responsive text messages, emails, and the metadata attached thereto.

The only additional information that could be gleaned by the Verizon subpoena is either privileged or concerns Mr. Meadows’ internet protocol and data-connection detail records.

It’s only true that the Verizon subpoena would show nothing other than what Meadows provided if Meadows included all his communications, either handed over or in the privilege log. But if he deliberately left stuff out, the subpoena would make that clear.

Meadows goes on at length in his lawsuit about how subpoenas from the January 6 Committee are invalid and how their refusal to accept a former President’s invocation of Executive Privilege for things his Chief of Staff wrote about in a book and on his personal cell phone.

So, as a result of that, Chairman Thompson and Vice Chair Liz Cheney have announced, they’re still going to go ahead and refer Meadows to DOJ for criminal contempt.

I’m going to hazard a guess and say that DOJ will not charge Meadows for contempt. But it’s not for the reason you think.

It’s because, first of all, DOJ has just gotten a record of enough suspicious behavior that they will use it (if they haven’t already) to get the very same call records Meadows is desperate to withhold from Congress. DOJ only needs to show relevance to their investigation to obtain those records, and Verizon will and has been, for other subjects of the January 6 investigation, gag the request to protect the ongoing investigation.

And by the time the Committee and Congress approve of a full report supporting contempt — Steve Bannon’s report was 26 pages — DOJ would have analyzed those call records to see which other January 6 suspects Meadows was in contact with, undoubtedly one of the things he was attempting to hide with his partial compliance and the replacement of his phone during a criminal investigation. And that would provide some evidence to support probable cause warrants for the content Thompson has just explained is available at Verizon and Google. The materials Meadows did turn over — particularly any gaps not covered by Meadows’ privilege logs — would provide further basis to support probable cause warrants. The apparent fact that Meadows was conducting official business on his phone and his Gmail account — but his emails!!! — would be further basis for probable cause. The likelihood, raised by Thompson, that Meadows failed to turn over records to the National Archives that he is now claiming to be covered by Executive Privilege, in violation of the Presidential Records Act, would be further basis for probable cause. And the circumstances of Meadows’ book publication — including any failures to undergo a full prepublication review, something that Trump attempted to prosecute John Bolton for — would be more.

Meadows’ actions thus far have provided a good deal of evidence that DOJ could use to obtain probable cause warrants for his phone and Gmail content, as well as (if they were prepared to do an overt search) the backed up material they know he retained from his old phone. They would have a privilege log for a filter team (though DOJ would be better served by asking a Special Master to check those privilege claims, because they’re probably bogus). And since Biden has already waived privilege over anything covered by the Committee request, DOJ would not have to worry about getting a separate Executive Privilege waiver for any content they obtained.

Thompson and Cheney may well refer Meadows for contempt. But by the time that happens, what Thompson has already made public will give DOJ plenty to kickstart an investigation into why Meadows is so obviously covering up some of his actions relating to January 6.

Rinse, repeat. The obstruction of John Eastman and Jeffrey Clark will likewise go some way to giving DOJ what they need to advance their investigation (though with Clark, DOJ may already have that from the DOJ IG Report). Similarly, once Ali Alexander finishes telling lies that DOJ has already debunked, it will provide DOJ ample cause (on top of what might be probable cause of wire fraud) to advance the investigation into him.

The collective wail from Meadows and Eastman that Congress might get their call records only makes it more likely that DOJ will get those very same call records, for which they need show only relevance. And Bennie Thompson’s transparency about that certainly makes FBI’s job easier.

Because it’s interesting, I’m going to include the list of things (per the lawsuit) that the January 6 Committee asserts could in no way be privileged.

  1. Messaging to or from the White House, Trump reelection campaign, party officials, and others about purported fraud, irregularities, or malfeasance in the November 2020 election. This includes, but is not limited to, Mr. Trump’s and others frequent use of the “Stop the Steal” slogan, even after lawsuits, investigations, public reporting, discussions with agency heads, and internally created documents revealed that there had not been widespread election fraud
  2. White House officials’ understanding of purported election-related fraud, irregularities, or malfeasance in the November 2020 election.
  3. Efforts to pressure federal agencies, including the Department of Justice, to take actions to challenge the results of the presidential election, advance allegations of voter fraud, interfere with Congress’s count of the Electoral College vote, or otherwise overturn President Biden’s certified victory. This includes, but is not limited to, Mr. Trump’s and others’ efforts to use the Department of Justice to investigate alleged election-related conduct, file lawsuits, propose that state legislatures take election-related actions, or replace senior leadership. It also includes similar efforts at other agencies such as the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Defense, and, among others, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.
  4. Efforts to pressure state and local officials and entities, including state attorneys general, state legislators, and state legislatures, to take actions to challenge the results of the presidential election, advance unsubstantiated allegations of voter fraud, interfere with Congress’s count of the Electoral College vote, de-certify state election results, appoint alternate slates of electors, or otherwise overturn President Biden’s certified victory. This includes, but is not limited to, an Oval Office meeting with legislators from Michigan, as well as a January 2, 2021 call with, among others, state officials, members of Congress, Mr. Trump, and Mr. Meadows.
  5. Theories and strategies regarding Congress and the Vice President’s (as President of the Senate) roles and responsibilities when counting the Electoral College vote. This includes, but is not limited to, the theories and/or understandings of John Eastman, Mark Martin, former Vice President Pence, and others.
  6. Efforts to pressure former Vice President Pence, members of his staff, and members of Congress to delay or prevent certification of the Electoral College vote. This includes, but is not limited to, meetings between, or including, the former Vice President, Mr. Trump, aides, John Eastman, members of Congress, and others.
  7. Campaign-related activities, including efforts to count, not count, or audit votes, as well as discussions about election-related matters with state and local officials. This includes, but is not limited to, Mr. Meadows’ travel to Georgia to observe vote counting, as well as his or Mr. Trump’s communications with officials and employees in the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office. This also includes similar activities related to state and local officials in Michigan, Wisconsin, Nevada, Arizona, and Pennsylvania.
  8. Meetings or other communications involving people who did not work for the United States government. This includes, but is not limited to, an Oval Office meeting on December 18, at which Mr. Trump, Michael Flynn, Patrick Byrne, and others discussed campaign-related steps that Mr. Trump purportedly could take to change the outcome of the November 2020 election and remain in office for a second term, such as seizing voting machines, litigating, and appointing a special counsel. It also includes communications with organizers of the January 6 rally like Amy Kremer of Women for America First.
  9. Communications and meetings with members of Congress about the November 2020 election, purported election fraud, actual or proposed election-related litigation, and election-related rallies and/or protests. This includes, but is not limited to, a December 21, 2021 meeting involving Mr. Trump, members of his legal team, and members of the House and Senate, during which attendees discussed objecting to the November 2020 election’s certified electoral college votes as part of an apparent fight “against mounting evidence of voter fraud.”
  10. Efforts by federal officials, including White House staff, Mr. Trump, the Trump reelection campaign, and members of Congress to plan or organize rallies and/or protests in Washington, D.C. related to the election, including, but not limited to, the January 6 rally on the Ellipse.
  11. Advance knowledge of, and any preparations for, the possibility of violence during election-related rallies and/or protests in Washington, D.C.
  12. Events in the days leading up to, and including, January 6. This includes, but is not limited to, campaign-related planning and activities at the Willard Hotel, planning and preparation for Mr. Trump’s speech at the Ellipse, Mr. Trump and other White House officials’ actions during and after the attack on the U.S. Capitol, and contact with members of Congress, law enforcement, the Department of Defense, and other federal agencies to address or respond to the attack.
  13. The possibility of invoking martial law, the Insurrection Act, or the 25th Amendment based on election-related issues or the events in the days leading up to, and including, January 6.
  14. The preservation or destruction of any information relating to the facts, circumstances, and causes relating to the attack of January 6th, including any such information that may have been stored, generated, or destroyed on personal electronic devices.
  15. Documents and information, including the location of such documents and information, that are responsive to the Select Committee’s subpoena. This includes, but is not limited to, information stored on electronic devices that Mr. Meadows uses and has used.
  16. Topics about which Mr. Meadows has already spoken publicly. This includes, but is not limited to, Mr. Meadows’ February 11, 2021, appearance on the Ingraham Angle show to discuss the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, Mr. Trump’s reactions to the attack, and the National Guard.
59 replies
  1. Rugger9 says:

    Is there a reason Meadows would not be charged with obstruction for ditching his personal phone? I seem to remember that is something that is sometimes charged when dealing with more mundane criminal conspiracies because it interfered with the investigation. Depending on his explanation (and especially if told to federal investigators) he’d also run foul of the code used to nail Martha Stewart.

    It would be nice to see Meadows treated like the common criminal that he has shown himself to be.

    • Out of Nowhere says:

      Actually, Chris Christie perfected the “phone not available” defense in the Bridgegate investigation by relinquishing the phone to his attorney, Chris Wray (yes, that one). At the time, I thought Fisher v. US precluded an act of production defense (and I didn’t hear anyone claim the 5th) but then again I’m not taking down the $9 million/year that Wray was back then..

  2. P J Evans says:

    I’m trying to figure out what Meadows is claiming with “attorney/client privilege” concerning 1/6, involving those phone records. It looks really hinky to me.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Hinky is right. Mark Meadows is not a lawyer. He barely earned a two-year college degree in South Florida. He has no A-C privilege concerning a lawyer’s representation of another client, say, Trump. In fact, his presence at meetings between Trump and his lawyer or Trump’s disclosure of privileged communications to Meadows might vitiate any A-C privileged that attached to them. (It depends on the context and subject matter.) Regardless, the A-C privilege attaches to and can be asserted by the client, presumably Trump, not Meadows.

      The only obvious A-C privilege Meadows could assert regards his communications with his own lawyer, which seems tangential to things the Jan. 6 committee wants to know. Meadows, like his peers and Trump, seems to be playing theatrically with the notion of “privilege,” in an attempt to delay and obfuscate everything. A very Trumpian tactic that would surprise no one who has ever had to deal with Donald Trump.

      • subtropolis says:

        Wrong privilege. He’s asserting Executive Privilege — on behalf of the so-called executive, anyway. As the president’s chief of staff that makes perfect sense. However, if any of those ~1000 texts was regarding anything laid out in Marcy’s long list, he’s out of luck because none of that had anything to do with official duties.

        Not that that will keep these assholes from continuing to beat that drum, of course.

      • Leoghann says:

        My assumption was that, because Jeffrey Clark used A/C privilege as one of his reasons he wouldn’t answer questions, Dim Bulb Meadows figured he would too.

  3. BobCon says:

    It’s good to see the potential for this kind of relationship between a congressional committee and federal investigators. It was something people like John Dingell, Jack Brooks and Carl Levin used to do extremely well. They understood that subjects of congressional investigations were a lot more likely to feel pressure if the congressional side could dovetail with both prosecutors and regulators on the executive side and the congressional power of the purse and taxation on the other.

    Phone and data companies will be a lot quicker to respond if they believe they have bigger business operations at risk and individuals planning to do business in DC need to be concerned about more than just their narrow legal jeopardy.

  4. The Old Redneck says:

    Just giving something to your lawyer doesn’t convert it into being privileged. If it wasn’t confidential before, handing it to your lawyer does not magically transform it.
    At any rate, Meadows has bigger problems. Ditching his phone, at least arguably, shows he knew he was doing something illegal. And DOJ will probably be able to reconstruct what was on it from other sources anyway.

    • Troutwaxer says:

      I don’t think the point of giving a phone to your lawyer is to make it privileged, but to “get rid of your phone” without causing an Obstruction of Justice Charge. (If I’m wrong I’m sure Bmaz will let me know.)

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        It puts a helluva burden on the lawyer, who would be holding – on Meadows’s behalf – evidence of what he or Meadows is concerned might be a crime. It’s a circumstance commonly found on law school exams.

        Put simply, the delivery of the phone requires the lawyer to physically and virtually preserve the phone in the condition in which it was given to him. The lawyer has to do so while avoiding committing or aiding and abetting the client’s committing a crime. Obstruction, for example.

        I wonder how many other Trump aides’ cell phones or computers are resting in the warm embrace of a Faraday pouch in their lawyers’ safes.

        • Leoghann says:

          Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t believe Meadows gave his phone to his attorney. He just replaced it. Chris Christie gave his phone to Chris Wray.

  5. Desider says:

    Is there anyone in the Trump Administration who properly separated official use from private use on their electronic devices? Or were they all out to show just how hypocritical the Hillary witch hunt was? And are there any actual penalties for doing now what was supposed to give Hillary prison time from back in 2009-2012?

  6. DaveC says:


    “I’m going to include the list of things (per the lawsuit) that January 6 asserts could in no way be privileged.”

    Is that supposed to be “(the) January 6 Committee asserts could in no way be privileged”?

    • Bobby Gladd says:

      SCOTUS granting Cert would be a blatantly obvious Melt Clock for Trump ploy. Given the clarity and unanimity of the appellate decision, it seems to me that Cert is not warranted, but… I guess we’ll see.

      • Rugger9 says:

        In a sane political climate it would not have gotten this far, but given how interwoven the GQP is and just how many of the GQP leaders are implicated (not just Individual-1) I fully expect the conservative cabal to find any excuse to parachute in to save their Dear Leader. Cert only takes four, and I have no doubt five will find some excuse to protect DJT as a firewall for the rest of the GQP.

        • P J Evans says:

          Alito would, for sure, but I wouldn’t bet that they could find three others who would want to establish a precedent, after multiple lower courts have tossed it and written solid opinions on why. Also, it’s an argument between the other two branches, and they try to avoid those.

          • Rugger9 says:

            Roe was settled law at their respective confirmation hearings, until it wasn’t. The discussion about the Maine case today seemed to point to the unofficial revision of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. These indicate that the principle of stare decisis is malleable for political advantage for the cabal’s side. The fate of the GQP is at stake so I expect cert to be granted. I hope I’m wrong.

            Too bad the Satanists didn’t file a brief as well, but perhaps they’ll ask for state funds in MS or FL. After all, when OK had their religious displays on their Capitol grounds they walked it back real quick when the courts ruled Baphomet had to be included as well.

    • FL Resister says:

      OMG what a complete load of bunk.
      Here, for example, is the slide from Mark Meadows’ PowerPoint titled Recommendations:
      ▪ Brief Senators and Congressmen on foreign interference
      ▪ Declare National Security Emergency
      ▪ Foreign influence and control of electronic voting systems
      ▪ Declare electronic voting in all states invalid
      ▪ LEGAL & Genuine Paper ballot counts or Constitutional remedy delegated
      to Congress

      On the other side of the intellectual universe is this blockbuster post by Dr. Wheeler today which gives me hope.

    • Troutwaxer says:

      Having presented this, I have to apologize to everyone. I spent the last 45 minutes digging through the site from which the PDF of the Meadows Power Point came, and it’s full of some very weird stuff; anti-vax propaganda, UFOs, etc. So I would not rely on this Power Point as being a legitimate copy of the Mark Meadows Power Point, if such a thing exists at all. It my be false-flag material.

      Maybe someone who’s deeper into these mysteries than I am can tell us whether this is legit.

    • Richieboy says:

      I mean, they had actual, genuine logos and photos pasted on most of those slides! It would certainly look incontrovertibly true to anyone and everyone who already wanted to believe it, which is really all it needed to do.

    • harpie says:

      [I don’t know anything about this, but] That’s the link visionsureal is talking about in this thread from yesterday:
      Added…Maybe not the same [??] …your link has an “if” after the numbers “5230”
      2:34 PM · Dec 8, 2021


      I just discovered the apparent source of the 38-page PowerPoint entitled “Election Fraud, Foreign Interference…” that Mark Meadows had per a 1/5/21 e-mail.

      It was released by Jovan Pulitzer on 1/12/21 and “included the work of Colonel Phil Waldron and his team.”

      A link to the report entitled entitled “Election Fraud, Foreign Interference, & Options for 6 Jan” can be found at this link archived here on 7/16/21. Here is what the first page or so looks like. /2 [THREAD continues]

      • Leoghann says:

        Jovan Pulitzer is a walking poison pill. But that doesn’t mean Meadows didn’t release something like that. He might even call it his own.

        • Ginevra diBenci says:

          One of MSNBC’s primetime hosts (Maddow or O’Donnell, I think) brought this up last night in a passing reference; they spoke as if it were the real thing.

    • WilliamOckham says:

      I did some digging on this. There are a few versions of this presentation on the web. On January 5th, Lara Logan’s Twitter account linked to one version. (I’m not linking to that version because it was converted from pptx to pdf differently than the one linked above and it is corrupted, even though most pdf viewers can display it.)

      Eventually I found a .pps version. That’s a PowerPoint file that opens as a slide show and does not require the full version of PowerPoint to play. It was created on January 5th. It was purportedly shown to members of Congress on that date. Anybody (harpie, maybe?) have a meeting like that in their timeline?

    • Benton says:

      Does the federal government have any constitutional authority to merely “Declare National Security Emergency” and then “federalize National Guard in each state” … “for counting each legitimate paper ballot”?

      What stands out is the absence any attempt to establish a legal basis for making these moves. Of course, not surprising for these people. Though, I’m curious which Senators saw this on Jan. 4 and then started to get nervous, leading to a decision to uphold state election results on J6.

      The Guardian’s latest reporting states: “The powerpoint was presented on 4 January to a number of Republican senators and members of Congress, the source said. Trump’s lawyers working at the Willard hotel were not shown the presentation, according to a source familiar with the matter.” The Guardian’s report is based on a PowerPoint with 5 January metadata.

      • Benton says:

        The Washington Post interviewed Philip Waldron, a retired U.S. Army colonel who claims to be part of the team that produced the PowerPoint. They reviewed a 36-page version that Waldron made public earlier this year (and presumably the version we are seeing). The Select Committee has a 38-page version. One of the Post’s sources said the “overall conclusions are the same, but there are some small differences”.

        Also interesting is:
        “Waldron said that on Jan. 5 he was among about a half-dozen people who briefed several members of Congress in a congressional office. He declined to identify the members without their permission and said that others may have joined by video.”

        Note that the Guardian reports a Jan 4 meeting (separate meetings or an error?).

      • J R in WV says:

        Funny how lawyers involved with serious law breaking NEVER saw any of the evidence surrounding that law breaking~!!!~

        Destroy Democracy and the election process?

        I didn’t see anything!

        I know nothing!!!

    • Rugger9 says:

      A very good question indeed since much of the militia (and Stone’s) planning predated Barr’s skedaddling in December 2020, about two weeks before the J6 insurrection. It’s the question of who knew what and when, combined with why Barr felt he had to leave right then. This may become another exercise in amnesia but haul them all in.

      • P J Evans says:

        There have been question here about why Barr picked then to leave, when it was so close to the end of the term anyway.

        • Rugger9 says:

          I would speculate then-AG Barr would have been briefed on what the LEO community intelligence had found, even if he chose to sit on it until he realized he might get tarred with the same brush.

          If he did his job in the manner DJT expected, of course Barr knew something was up IMHO.

  7. Stew says:

    just wondering if the Verizon data is more detailed than they think it is
    Barton Gellman article in The Atlantic is a scary read!
    Best wishes to you all

  8. harpie says:

    Now that Kash PATEL has given his deposition, and used that propagandistic DOD IG report about J6 to say: “SEE? #KashPATELdidnothingwrong”, hopefully Thompson, et al, can share lots of info about it with the FBI.
    4:32 PM · Dec 9, 2021

    New: Former DoD official Kash Patel’s interview with Jan. 6 committee has ended. He did not answer any of our questions as he left, including whether he took the 5th or spoke to Trump about the interview beforehand.

    5:02 PM · Dec 9, 2021 Kash Patel now issues a statement. Obtained by @AnnieGrayerCNN.

    […] Though I have had major concerns about the fairness of the proceedings, I appeared to answer questions to the best of my ability. The DOD Inspector General, under the Biden Administration, found no wrongdoing in its report on Jan. 6, as I shared with the Committee. […]

  9. Tom R. says:

    More than one thing can be true at the same time:
    1) DoJ should oh-so-quietly obtain the phone records from Verizon.
    2) They should check that against what Meadows filed with the committee, and if there’s a mismatch, they can prosecute him for lying to congress.
    3) In parallel with all that, independently of all that, they can prosecute him for contempt. His claim of executive privilege is twice as strong as Bannon’s, but twice nothing is still nothing. Even if some small fraction of the topics are privileged, the rest are not, and he’s still grossly in contempt.

    More generally, we should keep in mind the asymmetry of the situation. Consider e.g. the first impeachment. Schiff laid out a legal case, while the other side waged a PR campaign. Other similar examples abound. Pelosi likes to quote Lincoln: “public sentiment is everything. With it, nothing can fail; against it, nothing can succeed” — but she doesn’t heed her own advice.

    Let’s be clear: Being on the right side of the legal issues is necessary but nowhere near sufficient. AFAICT the Ds on Capitol Hill have still not figured this out. It’s as if somebody told them not to bring a knife to a gunfight, so they brought a spoon.

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