A former U.S. attorney recently questioned what information Special Counsel Jack Smith will be able to obtain from Donald Trump‘s former Chief of Staff Mark Meadows in the ongoing investigation into the former president’s alleged efforts to overturn the 2020 election.
“Looking down the road a little, a big question: Does Smith have enough to charge Meadows or is immunity DOJ’s only real card to force him to talk? He is way too culpable to be an easy choice for immunity. But also charging him, even if solid, cd be a very significant delay,” former U.S. Attorney Harry Litman wrote in a tweet on Friday afternoon.
The tweet by Litman comes shortly after reports that a federal judge ordered Meadows and several other former Trump aides to testify in front of a grand jury following an investigation by Special Counsel Smith on the alleged efforts by the former president to overturn the 2020 election, where he was defeated by President Joe Biden.
Citing several anonymous sources, ABC news was first to report on the judge’s decision on Friday.
Previously, Trump and his legal team have argued that his aides have been protected by executive privilege and should not be required to testify in the January 6 investigation. According to Cornell Law School, “Executive privilege is the power of the President and other officials in the executive branch to withhold certain forms of confidential communication from the courts and the legislative branch. ABC News reported that the federal judge rejected the claims of executive privilege.
In response to the reports on Friday, a spokesperson for Trump told Newsweek, “The DOJ is continuously stepping far outside the standard norms in attempting to destroy the long accepted, long held, Constitutionally based standards of attorney-client privilege and executive privilege.
“There is no factual or legal basis or substance to any case against President Trump. The deranged Democrats and their comrades in the mainstream media are corrupting the legal process and weaponizing the justice system in order to manipulate public opinion, because they are clearly losing the political battle,” the statement added.
In response to the question posed by Litman, Former federal prosecutor and elected state attorney in Florida Michael McAuliffe told Newsweek on Friday, “From the special counsel’s perspective, the first step was––and, depending on appeals, may still be––to get the court’s permission to put Mark Meadows into the federal grand jury. The purpose is to have Meadows answer questions regarding his own January 6th related conduct and his knowledge of others––especially Donald Trump.”
“However, it is Department of Justice practice not to force someone into a federal grand jury if that person’s attorney has indicated the client will invoke the fifth amendment right against self-incrimination to most or all the questions,” McAuliffe told Newsweek.
McAuliffe went on to explain that prosecutors have “several alternatives” which include negotiating areas of inquiry that the witness is willing to testify, building a criminal case without the individual’s testimony in an effort to create leverage and “the prosecutor can seek to immunize the person and force the person to testify about events or conduct.”
“One additional complicating factor is the government at times has to make the immunity decision without knowing exactly what the person will say. In the Meadows situation, he might provide incriminating information or he might try to exculpate Trump. If there were only two people (Trump and Meadows) in a room when something occurred that’s a high risk, high reward scenario for the special counsel,” McAuliffe told Newsweek.
Similarly, former federal prosecutor and President of West Coast Trial Lawyers, Neama Rahmani told Newsweek, “Smith may have enough evidence to prosecute Meadows, and if he does, he’ll want to do so to put pressure on Meadows to cooperate and ‘flip’ on Trump. It’s always easier to secure cooperation when a witness is under indictment, and prosecutors routinely cooperate lower level employees against the real target of their investigation.”