Former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows is on the verge of joining a growing list of former Trump officials being charged with contempt of Congress, according to multiple reports. Given Meadows’s refusal to testify before the House Select Committee investigating the 1/6 Capitol attack, the committee has confirmed that he will soon join former Trump adviser Steve Bannon and former Trump Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark in being the first people indicted during this query.
Meadows first declared his resistance to the committee scant hours before the Bannon indictment several weeks ago, and for a time it appeared as if the former chief of staff might negotiate his way into cooperation… but then his book came out. An altogether glowing portrait of the Trump years, as befitting one of the more vigorous lickspittles within Trump’s sphere, the book contained one nugget of actual news that had the press buzzing for days: Trump had tested positive days before his first debate with Joe Biden, but barreled forward with all his public plans, including meetings with the families of fallen soldiers.
Trump’s entirely predictable reaction was volcanic; he tore into Meadows, denounced all forms of disloyalty, and concluded that the whole thing was “fake news”… and then, the funny part happened. Desperate to appease his master, Meadows himself went on live television and rubbished his own book. When asked by Newsmax anchor Rob Schmitt about his book getting slapped with the dreaded label, Meadows replied, “Well, the president’s right, it’s fake news.”
Profiles in courage, baby. Give that man a participation trophy and a sugar-free lollipop.
Should they ever be called to testify, Meadows and Clark could be key witnesses explaining Trump’s precise strategy (or lack thereof) on the day of the attack. The operation had two tiers: Vice President Pence had to follow through on the plan to disavow enough Biden Electoral College votes to throw the race to Trump, and Clark had to get the Department of Justice to publicly state there had been criminal disruptions of the vote nationwide, further investigation is warranted, and in the meantime, whatever Congress says goes.
The plot may well have worked, but Pence at the last minute refused to follow through on his end despite alleged pressure from Meadows and others, and multiple officials at Justice repeatedly showed Clark the door, to the great fury of Trump. As much as Meadows and Clark can explain what was supposed to happen, their insights on what actually happened, as they happened, would be of immense value.
Another witness for the committee has popped up, one who can explain what 1/6 was like for those trapped in the building when the attack took place, and his inclusion likely has eyebrows wandering all over the foreheads down at Mar-a-Lago. Mike Pence has agreed to allow his former chief of staff, Marc Short, to cooperate with the committee.
“Short remains one of Pence’s closest advisers and is a firsthand witness to many critical events the committee is examining,” reports CNN, “including what happened to Pence at the Capitol on January 6 and how former President Donald Trump pressured the former vice president not to certify the presidential election that day. Short’s assistance signals a greater openness among Pence’s inner circle. One source told CNN the committee is getting ‘significant cooperation with Team Pence,’ even if the committee has not openly discussed that. Another source told CNN that Short’s help is an example of the ‘momentum’ the investigation is enjoying behind the scenes.”
This is potentially fascinating, and not just because we might hear Short explain what it felt like to watch a violent mob of Trump voters chanting for the death of Trump’s own vice president, his immediate boss. Trump himself can only perceive Pence’s cooperation as another betrayal, and a direct threat to himself.
There is also the matter of Pence popping up in places like New Hampshire and Iowa, just like any self-respecting possible presidential contender for 2024. Trump, not yet a declared candidate but leaning hard into fundraising for that endeavor, is already grinding his teeth over the popularity in conservative circles of Florida’s Republican governor, Ron DeSantis.
If Pence joins DeSantis on the list of people Trump suspects could challenge him next year, we could soon see a massive MY PARTY MY PARTY tantrum from the former president, even if he decides not to run. In the immortal words of Highlander, so long as Trump is in the picture, there can be only one.
Meanwhile, Meadows should expect to get some important paperwork soon. The work of the committee grinds on.