Donald Trump’s people are now putting it out there in the media that they think Mark Meadows may have flipped on Trump. And they may be correct. But keep in mind that by court order, Meadows has to testify against Trump (and possibly already has), whether he’s “flipped” or not.
The law protects you from testifying against yourself. But the law requires you to testify against others. Meadows has to testify against every crime he saw Trump commit, except for the crimes that Meadows and Trump committed together.
That may sound convoluted, but it makes sense if you think about it. If you and your pal rob a bank together, you don’t have to testify against him about the robbery, because you’d be giving yourself up. But you do have to testify about the other crimes you saw him commit.
So it’s a given that Meadows will soon give (or has given) partial testimony against Trump. Otherwise the courts would promptly toss Meadows in a cell; they’ve already made their ruling about his testimony requirements, and there’s no magically defying the courts on this.
The only question is whether Meadows will testify about just the crimes he witnessed Trump commit on his own (no deal), or whether Meadows will also testify about the crimes he and Trump committed together (cooperation deal).
Jack Smith can also give Meadows immunity for specific things, which would then force Meadows to testify about those things. Meadows would have to comply or get hauled off. This isn’t some congressional subpoena. It’s a grand jury subpoena, already ruled on by the courts. There’s no such thing as just waving it off.
So any narratives about Meadows “refusing to testify” are gibberish. He doesn’t have that option. And any talk about whether he’s “cooperating” is really a question of whether he’s giving just the required partial testimony, or full testimony as the result of a deal.
Also keep in mind that if Meadows only gives the required partial testimony, Jack Smith will likely still indict him for the crimes he and Trump committed together. Meadows would still go to prison. Meadows only gets off the hook if he cuts an immunity deal and gives full testimony.
So Meadows can not testify and definitely go to prison for contempt, or partially testify and likely still go to prison for the underlying crimes, or fully testify with an immunity deal (giving up every criminal he’s ever known) and go free. There are no other scenarios for him.
It’s worth noting that the only “good” scenario for Trump would be the first one, where Meadows refuses to testify at all and gets hauled off for contempt – and that just doesn’t seem realistic. The other two scenarios are both very bad for Trump. It’s just that one would be even worse for Trump than the other.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report