Speculation surrounding Mark Meadows, Donald Trump’s former chief of staff, potentially cooperating with Special Counsel Jack Smith’s investigation could spell serious legal trouble for the former president, according to legal expert Ryan Goodman, former Defense Department special counsel. The speculation emerged following a CNN report that revealed Meadows’ continued influence in Washington D.C., including advising GOP lawmakers on debt-ceiling negotiations.
Although the report states that Meadows is no longer in communication with Trump, he remains a significant figure in Smith’s criminal probe into Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election results. An unnamed source connected to Trump revealed to CNN that they are uncertain whether Meadows is cooperating with the federal investigation or if he is a target of a criminal probe himself.
“We’ve all heard the same rumors,” a Trump adviser told CNN. “No one really knows what he’s doing though.” In a tweet sharing the CNN link, Ryan Goodman remarked, “If he’s cooperating, it’s game over.”
Meadows has long been considered a potential key witness in the federal investigation examining Trump’s actions surrounding the events of January 6 and his attempts to overturn the election. He was present with Trump during the Capitol insurrection and was involved in post-election events.
Reports indicated that Meadows had been subpoenaed by Smith to testify before a special grand jury as part of the investigation into the events leading up to the January 6 attack. While it remains unclear whether Meadows has testified under oath following the subpoena issued in February, a judge denied Trump’s claim of executive privilege in March, allowing Meadows to testify.
Former Deputy Assistant Attorney General Harry Litman expressed skepticism about reports of Meadows cooperating with Smith’s probe, tweeting, “I’ll believe it when I see it.”
In September 2022, Meadows complied with a previous subpoena from the Department of Justice (DoJ) by providing thousands of text messages. These messages were also requested by the House Select Committee investigating the Capitol riot. The texts revealed attempts by GOP lawmakers, Fox News presenters, and Trump’s family members to persuade Meadows to urge Trump to call off the violence, which Trump did not do for over three hours.
Additionally, Meadows handed over a 38-page PowerPoint document to the January 6 panel containing plans to overturn the election and declare a national emergency. Meadows’ legal team claimed that the presentation was received via email but not acted upon.
While Meadows initially cooperated with the House Select Committee’s subpoena, he later refused further compliance and did not appear for a deposition. As a result, the panel recommended referring Meadows to the DoJ for prosecution, along with ex-deputy chief of staff Dan Scavino, for defying the congressional subpoena.
However, the DoJ decided not to press charges against Meadows or Scavino for their refusal to comply, leading to speculation about their potential cooperation with the federal investigation.