President Donald Trump’s former chief of staff Mark Meadows will jeopardize his influential political ties with Congressional Republicans while following federal investigators who are using his testimony to prosecute Trump. We are walking a tightrope, trying to maintain a careful balance so as not to cross any lines that should not be crossed. .
That balancing act was on full display Tuesday night. ABC News coverage Two people in attendance said that although Mr. Meadows had been granted immunity and had met multiple times with Special Counsel Jack Smith’s team, Mr. Meadows was a Republican with ties to the right-wing celebration in Washington, D.C. It is said that he was seen mingling with others.
Sources familiar with the matter told CNN that Meadows provided information to federal investigators in both the 2020 election destruction case and the classified documents investigation after receiving immunity from responding to subpoenas. He did not receive a full immunity, but instead received assurances that he would not be prosecuted for what he shared with investigators.
Meadows, a founding member of the House Freedom Caucus and many years in Congress as a partisan attack dog, remains influential among conservative lawmakers. But his influence within pro-Trump circles could be threatened if Republicans suspect he is an enemy of the former president.
“He’s just acting in good faith and trying to work with them,” a source close to Meadows told CNN about his interactions with the special counsel. “That doesn’t mean he’s selling anyone short or flipping anyone.”
Just this month, Meadows met privately on and off Capitol Hill with House Republicans about the Speaker’s race, pushing them to support a more conservative candidate aligned with Trump, according to a person familiar with the meeting. A source told CNN.
Still, Meadows is a key witness in Trump’s criminal case.that’s one of the reasons Bipartisan January 6th Committee He said Meadows is “uniquely positioned to provide critical information” about attempts to “delay or prevent a peaceful transfer of power.”
After ABC News published the report, Meadows’ attorney George Terwilliger said in a statement: “I told ABC that their story was largely inaccurate. You have to decide for yourself.” Terwilliger did not say which parts of the story he thought were inaccurate.
Meadows did not respond to a request for comment. Meadows’ legal team declined to comment on the matter.
Since President Trump left office, Meadows has maintained close ties with many of the former president’s allies in Congress.he has been an important player in recent months advise the right-wing resistance on how to extract concessions from House Republican leadership. CNN reported in May.
During a recent speaker battle, Meadows’ Washington, D.C.-based think tank, the Conservative Partnership Institute, to which he is affiliated; senior partnerplayed an important role in supporting the Failure of speaker candidates Freedom Caucus ally Jim Jordan is coordinating with members, organizing conference calls and strategizing with right-wing activists on how to rally support for the Ohio Republican, sources told CNN. .
Sarah Silbiger/UPI/Bloomberg/Getty Images
Chief of Staff Mark Meadows listens as President Donald Trump speaks with members of the media before boarding Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House on Wednesday, July 29, 2020.
When Jordan was asked in an interview on Thursday, Newsmax interview Asked whether Mr. Meadows was against Mr. Trump, he said: “I don’t think Mr. Mark would do that. Mark is a good friend, but I don’t know. But I believe that Mark sees the world of President Trump the same way I do.”
But Meadows also terrible text messages He testified before the Jan. 6 committee in fall 2021, gave important grand jury testimony against Smith’s team this year, and is currently fighting his own criminal charges in Georgia. (He has pleaded not guilty to two state crimes.)
The Georgia indictment accuses Meadows of collaborating with Trump to pressure Georgia election officials to interfere with vote counting, and that he was part of a fraudulent campaign. There is. Mr. Trump’s federal indictment also mentions Mr. Meadows’ emails regarding electors and mentions conversations with Mr. Trump about allegations of voter fraud, and Mr. Meadows could serve as a trial witness on these topics. Highly sexual.
Advisors to the former president insist they are not concerned about Meadows’ level of cooperation, at least for now. They argued it was unclear how valuable Meadows’ information would be in court, and told CNN they were taking Terwilliger’s statements about the ABC News article at face value.
“From our standpoint, I think we’re just taking his word for it. We’ve been pushing his lawyers’ statements publicly,” one of Trump’s advisers told CNN. .
CNN reported in June Meadows gave grand jury testimony in the Smith investigation and said he was asked about efforts to overturn the 2020 election and Trump’s handling of classified documents. Mr. Smith later indicted Mr. Trump in two separate investigations.
Meadows was granted immunity from prosecution by a federal judge after it became clear he intended to assert his Fifth Amendment right to refuse to answer questions about the 2020 election before a grand jury, officials said. told CNN.
Sources said Mr. Meadows also provided information about the election and classified documents to Mr. Smith’s team during interviews conducted under so-called proffer agreements, which provide certain legal protections.
Mr. Meadows’ appearance before the grand jury comes before Mr. Smith indicts Mr. Trump and before Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis presides over Mr. Trump, Mr. Meadows and others in Georgia’s state-level election destruction case. This came before charges were secured against 17 people.
Meadows’ attorney Terwilliger previously said publicly: Mr. Meadows has maintained his commitment to telling the truth where legally required to do so. ”
However, Meadows told investigators that he did not believe the 2020 election was stolen and that it was “disingenuous” for President Trump to declare victory so soon after polls closed on Election Day, according to ABC News. It is said that By mid-December 2020, Meadows had notified Trump that his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, could not prove his claims of voter fraud, according to the report.
“Obviously we didn’t win,” Meadows told Smith’s team, according to ABC News.
This is the exact opposite of what Trump and many of his allies in Congress are still saying about the 2020 election. As recently as Tuesday night, President Trump posted on social media that there was a “rigged election” in 2020.and Congressman Mike Johnson of Louisiana. elected Speaker of the House of Representatives Wednesday – He well-documented history 2020 election denialism.
Regardless of what Meadows has told investigators privately about the 2020 election and classified documents, he still has relationships with many House Republicans, including Pennsylvania, where Biden was leading. That includes the lawmakers who voted to throw out the state and Arizona results.
This balance underscores Meadows’ longstanding reputation in Washington, D.C., as a political operator who often tells people what they want to hear, which continued in President Trump’s White House.
A person close to Mr. Meadows said that during the post-election period, Mr. Meadows, even though he had a “skeptical eye,” would “faithfully investigate or communicate allegations of voter fraud and do some sort of… He said he was seen as someone who “makes evaluations.”
A person close to Trump and Meadows said there were “three camps” in Trump’s orbit during the frenzied post-election period. Those who believe there was massive fraud, those who don’t, and those who don’t understand how elections work. Was there any fraud?
“The president listened to all of those groups,” the official said. “Having known Mark and talking to him, I wouldn’t be surprised if he was in all three of his groups at some point.”
Meadows testified again three times about his dealings with Trump regarding the 2020 election. first, his memoirs, he published it at the end of 2021. Second, there is Smith’s personal testimony to his team. ABC News coverage Tuesday. Third, there is his testimony in public. court hearing in August in connection with an indictment in Georgia.
As Meadows saw it, there are some inconsistencies and omissions in the overlapping history of President Trump’s many attempts to overturn the 2020 election.
The biggest difference is how Meadows approaches Trump’s claims of voter fraud. He reportedly denied being charged with lying in his testimony before the special counsel. But Mr. Meadows, in his book, clearly but cautiously leaned toward claims of fraud.
According to ABC News, Meadows told Smith’s investigators that he repeatedly told President Trump after the election that allegations of massive voter fraud were unfounded. Mr. Meadows also US government assessment The 2020 election was the “most secure” in American history.
Drew Angerer/Getty Images/File
Mark Meadows, former White House chief of staff during the Trump administration, speaks at a forum titled House Rules and Process Changes for the 118th Congress at Freedom Works headquarters in Washington, DC, on November 14, 2022. .
But Meadows wrote in his memoir that there were “actual evidence of fraud,” “numerous credible allegations of fraud,” and “thousands of allegations of widespread fraud,” including “many…instances” in Georgia. It is written that there was. But Mr. Meadows never claimed there was massive fraud that would have reversed the results, as Mr. Trump has falsely claimed.
Meadows placed himself in the middle of these two disparate perspectives when he testified at a hearing related to the Georgia charges in August.
Under public oath in Georgia federal court, Meadows portrayed himself as a hard-working aide trying to address his boss’ concerns about the 2020 election while running the country and working to transition power to the Biden administration.
In early December 2020, when then-Attorney General Bill Barr told him and President Trump that claims of voter fraud were “bullshit,” Barr said he had “no reason to doubt” him. . However, Meadows testified at the time that Barr’s assessment was not necessarily the final decision, as he believed that “additional investigations into the fraud allegations need to continue.”
Meadows previously told Smith’s team that he was confident in how the Justice Department investigated allegations of voter fraud in 2020, and wrote in his memoir that “our “Many referrals…are not seriously investigated,” he said.
President Trump said he did not believe the ABC News report about Meadows’ immunity. In a social media post, President Trump claimed that prosecutors were trying to cut deals with “weak and cowardly people” who were willing to “say bad things” about him.
“I can’t believe it,” President Trump said Wednesday. “I have spoken to Mark Meadows many times over the years and he strongly believes the election was stolen.”
In a court filing Wednesday night, Smith said Trump’s comments were “prejudice and intimidation” against Meadows and an attempt to “intimidate and influence” a foreseeable trial witness. Stated.
Mr. Smith’s team told U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan that Mr. Trump’s comments were sufficiently problematic that Mr. Smith should do so. reinstate gag order She said she paused while Trump appealed. Trump’s public attacks on the judicial process, including his comments about Meadows’ credibility, “pose a serious threat to the very concept of a fair trial,” prosecutors wrote. .
CNN’s Melanie Zanona contributed to this report.