Ex-Trump aides like Meadows must testify before Jan. 6 grand jury, judge rules
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A federal judge has ruled that some of former President Donald Trump’s closest aides, including ex-chief of staff Mark Meadows, must testify before the grand jury investigating his involvement in efforts to overturn the 2020 election, sources familiar with the matter told NBC News.
U.S. District Court Judge Beryl Howell rejected Trump’s argument that executive privilege allowed him to block testimony from former advisers like Dan Scavino and Stephen Miller, former director of national intelligence John Ratcliffe and ex-national security adviser Robert O’Brien, the sources said.
Others ordered to testify in the Jan. 6 investigation were Ken Cucinelli, a former DHS official, former White House aides Nick Luna and John McEntee, the sources said.
A Trump spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment on the judge’s order.
Trump is expected to appeal the sealed ruling. Legal experts say a criminal investigation usually overcomes executive privilege, as it did when the Supreme Court forced President Richard Nixon to hand over tapes his Oval Office conversations.
Howell, whose ruling was first reported by ABC News, had been overseeing legal challenges to special counsel Jack Smith’s dual probes into Trump’s involvement in the Jan. 6 riot and his handling of documents with classification markings found at Mar-a-Lago until last week when her term as chief judge ended. The case in Washington is now being overseen by her successor, Chief Judge James “Jeb” Boasberg.
The decision on Trump’s former aides, which was filed under seal because of the active grand jury investigation, was not Howell’s only major ruling before she wrapped up her post. In a separate decision last week, she ordered Trump lawyer Evan Corcoran to testify in the classified documents case under the “crime fraud” exception, which meant he could not cite attorney-client privilege to avoid answering questions from investigators.
Corcoran testified before the grand jury Friday.
Trump has denied any wrongdoing in the cases being investigated by Smith.
Most of the former aides named in Howell’s order testified before the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot, but Meadows and Scavino, who ran Trump’s social media accounts, both snubbed subpoenas for testimony from the panel.
The House later referred them to the Justice Department for a criminal contempt of Congress charge. The Justice Department announced in June that it was declining to prosecute Meadows and Scavino.
Meadows also fought efforts to testify before a grand jury in Georgia jury investigating efforts by Trump and his allies to overturn the election results in the state. Meadows lost his court challenges and eventually testified.