Rep. Mark Meadows is trying to become the woman congresswoman who could hold President Donald Trump accountable for his own misconduct.
The North Carolina Republican, the chair of the powerful conservative House Freedom Caucus, has sued House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for subpoenaing the committee Republicans on Jan. 6, a date the Democrats had planned to bring the president to Capitol Hill to answer questions about the Justice Department’s special counsel investigation.
On Wednesday, Meadows filed a lawsuit in federal court seeking to stop Pelosi from implementing her subpoena, which he argues would send “the message to President Trump that no one is above the law.”
“I support subpoena power and use subpoena power appropriately, but I also don’t like chilling that which the Founding Fathers intended — the Speech or Debate Clause, and secondly the due process clause — and both are at risk here,” Meadows said in an interview with conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh.
A spokeswoman for Pelosi said the speaker “has every right to do as she wishes.”
“The subcommittees have been told by the Special Counsel they need to have access to relevant information, and therefore the Speaker’s Rules and Regulations allow any Member to oppose those subpoenas and be subject to penalties, including fines,” the spokeswoman said.
The suit also names as defendants the Judiciary Committee, which subpoenaed all 30 subpoenaed witnesses, and Chair Robert W. Goodlatte of Virginia. Meadows argued that the law allows Pelosi to do so, since lawmakers who refuse a subpoena are subject to the penalties.
“This will stand up in court, and it will stand up every time that the Speaker does a similar subpoena, and it will stand up every time that her subordinates do a similar subpoena,” Meadows said.
The incident between the House Oversight Committee, which found no evidence to support the GOP claims of Russia interference in the 2016 election, and the Department of Justice, has yet to become public. In a Republican-led committee report last week, Republicans criticized the DOJ for trying to protect Trump, and the DOJ called the report “disgraceful and partisan.” The Democrats, however, said Republicans should not be allowed to “waste” taxpayer dollars by tainting the DOJ’s handling of the investigation.
The matter is set to be decided in secret as well. An agreement reached between the two parties did not specify the classified nature of the information, but the Justice Department will, as of Dec. 21, have seven days to disclose any information to the committee.
In his interview with Limbaugh, Meadows vowed to fight Pelosi “tooth and nail.” He indicated that the Freedom Caucus would refuse to pass any legislation until she “bans Democrats from subpoenaing witnesses under non-equal procedures.”
“This is an unconstitutional move by the House leadership,” he said. “Let’s be clear: The founders created due process, and this is not due process. This is President Trump saying I’m not going to answer questions, despite the law, despite precedent.”
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders in a statement said the lawsuit was “desperate.”
“House Democrats are running scared because the truth will reveal they have failed at their first order of business, which is protecting the President and his administration from unfair treatment by the Department of Justice and certain members of the House Ethics Committee,” Sanders said.