On Tuesday, federal U.S. district judge Carl Nichols, a Trump appointee, dismissed a lawsuit from former President Trump’s chief of staff Mark Meadows against the House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6th Capitol riot.
Meadows sought to block two subpoenas from the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack, including one to Verizon seeking his phone and text data.
Judge Nichols found that the panel’s subpoenas were covered under the Constitution’s speech or debate clause, which he said protected them from civil suits as legislative actions.
“The record makes clear that the challenged subpoenas are protected legislative acts,” Nichols wrote in the decision, according to The New York Times.
Despite his decision, the judge said a number of matters raised by Mr. Meadows remained unsettled, including whether a senior aide to a former president can be compelled to testify before Congress; whether a former president can validly assert executive privilege; and whether a sitting president may override a former president’s claim of privilege.
Judge Nichols’s ruling marks the latest chapter in Meadows’ nearly year-long saga against the committee. Last December, Meadows filed a lawsuit against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the committee, claiming the panel issued “two overly broad and unduly burdensome subpoenas” for his records.
Before filing suit, Mr. Meadows turned over thousands of pages of documents to the committee, including more than 2,300 text messages that served as key evidence for jump-starting the panel’s investigation. But he refused the committee’s subpoena to sit for a deposition and withheld more than 1,000 documents he said were covered by executive privilege.
The committee then recommended that Meadows, a former congressman from North Carolina, be charged with contempt of Congress. However, the Justice Department ultimately decided against prosecuting the case.
Meadows will likely seek to appeal Judge Nichols’s ruling but has yet to make any comments publicly about the case.
The January 6th panel’s future is up in the air as Republicans are poised to will back control of Congress, likely meaning Meadows will avoid testifying before the panel altogether.