Even as the DOJ has brought contempt of Congress indictments against Steve Bannon and Peter Navarro, it’s declined to indict Mark Meadows for the same thing. Even as the DOJ has carried out search and seizure warrants against Donald Trump’s co-conspirators John Eastman and Jeffrey Clark, it’s seemingly declined to take similar action against Meadows. And in Fulton County DA Fani Willis’ separate criminal investigation into Trump, she’s reportedly sent subpoenas or target letters to nearly everyone around Trump, except Meadows. This has stood out as odd, given that Meadows is at the heart of Donald Trump’s election-related crime spree.
This has all pointed to two possible explanations, on opposite ends of the spectrum: either Meadows hasn’t been touched because he’s been cooperating with these probes, or prosecutors are saving Meadows for last because they view him as a top tier criminal target in their Trump probes. Now we’re learning what Trump’s own team thinks (or fears) is going on.
On Thursday night CNN reported that Trump’s lawyers are now engaging with the DOJ about its criminal investigation into Trump. Trump’s own lawyers pretty clearly appeared to be the source of the reporting. So it’s notable that the same CNN article also said this: “Trump has specifically been counseled to cut contact with his former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows.”
This is interesting for a few reasons. For one thing, it suggests that Trump has been talking (or trying to talk) with Meadows, which at this point could be tantamount to witness tampering. But what’s more interesting is why Trump’s lawyers would warn him to stay away from Meadows. The only reason to give this advice is if Trump’s lawyers know or fear that Meadows has flipped or is going to flip.
Keep in mind that Meadows already flipped on Trump once, turning over a treasure trove of incriminating evidence against himself and Trump to the January 6th Committee, before quickly changing his mind and cutting off that cooperation. Given that Meadows could be looking at seditious conspiracy and election fraud charges that could put him in prison for the rest of his natural life, and that he’s arguably the single most valuable witness the DOJ could hope to flip, it wouldn’t be surprising at all if Meadows and the DOJ have reached (or end up reaching) a leniency or immunity deal in exchange for giving up Trump.
In other words, Donald Trump’s lawyers are seeing what the rest of us are seeing. Prosecutors curiously keep passing Mark Meadows over, suggesting that he may already be cooperating against Trump. And even if he isn’t already, Meadows’s unique value as a witness, his leverage in negotiating a leniency deal, and the fact that he’s already flipped on Trump once already, all add up to Meadows being a real liability for Trump. Here’s the kicker: what if Meadows has already flipped, and Trump has been continuing to talk to Meadows since then? That would make the DOJ’s case against Trump even stronger.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report