LIVE – Updated at 18:02
Mark Meadows did not appear for his scheduled deposition before the House committee and now risks criminal contempt charges.
The newly announced virtual summit on Monday evening between Joe Biden and Xi Jinping comes one day after the Chinese president warned against a return to cold war-era tensions in the Asia-Pacific.
“Attempts to draw ideological lines or form small circles on geopolitical grounds are bound to fail,” he told a virtual business conference on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit.
“The Asia-Pacific region cannot and should not relapse into the confrontation and division of the cold war era.”
Xi’s remarks were an apparent reference to US efforts with allies and partners in the region to blunt what Washington sees as China’s growing coercive economic and military influence.
Biden to hold virtual summit with Xi
Joe Biden will hold a virtual summit with China’s president, Xi Jinping, on Monday evening, amid rising tensions since the US president took office earlier this year.
“The two leaders will discuss ways to responsibly manage the competition between the United States and the PRC [People’s Republic of China], as well as ways to work together where our interests align,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement on Friday. “Throughout, President Biden will make clear US intentions and priorities and be clear and candid about our concerns.”
At the recent Cop26 climate talks in Glasgow, Biden criticized Xi for failing to show up. Tensions between Washington and Beijing have also been exacerbated by the Chinese military’s recent sorties near Taiwan, the democratically-governed island claimed by Beijing.
US secretary of state Antony Blinken said this week that the US would ensure Taiwan can defend itself to avoid anyone “trying to disrupt the status quo by force”.
Today so far
Here’s where the day stands so far:
- Mark Meadows, former chief of staff to Donald Trump, did not appear for his scheduled deposition before the House select committee investigating the Capitol insurrection. Meadows’ attorney has said he will not testify until the courts determine the validity of Trump’s claims of executive privilege over documents linked to the Capitol attack. But the select committee and the White House have said Trump’s claims do not withstand legal scrutiny.
- It remains unclear whether the select committee will move forward with holding Meadows in criminal contempt. The House has already referred one of Trump’s former advisers, Steve Bannon, to the justice department for refusing to comply with a subpoena issued by the select committee. The justice department has not yet said whether it plans to prosecute Bannon.
- Joe Biden announced he will nominate Robert Califf to serve as the next commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration. But Democratic Senator Joe Manchin has already said he will oppose the nomination of Califf, who led the FDA during the final months of Barack Obama’s presidency. In order to get Califf confirmed, the White House will need to convince at least one Republican to support his nomination.
The blog will have more coming up, so stay tuned.
Biden formally announces plans to nominate Califf as FDA commissioner
Joe Biden has just officially announced he plans to nominate Robert Califf as the next commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration.
“Dr. Robert Califf is one of the most experienced clinical trialists in the country, and has the experience and expertise to lead the Food and Drug Administration during a critical time in our nation’s fight to put an end to the coronavirus pandemic,” Biden said in a new statement.
“Dr. Califf had strong bipartisan support in the Senate in 2016, and I urge the Senate to swiftly confirm Dr. Califf so he can continue the important work being done at this critical moment.”
But Califf’s confirmation is somewhat in doubt now that Democratic Senator Joe Manchin has indicated he will not support the nomination.
Given the 50-50 split in the Senate, Califf’s nomination will need to attract some Republican support in order to get approved.
Manchin opposes Biden’s reported pick for FDA commissioner
Senator Joe Manchin has said he will oppose Robert Califf’s nomination if Joe Biden selects him to lead the Food and Drug Administration.
Manchin argued that Califf’s inadequate response to the opioid epidemic made his nomination “an insult to the many families and individuals who have had their lives changed forever as a result of addiction”.
The West Virginia senator noted he previously opposed Califf’s nomination when Barack Obama chose him to lead the FDA for the final months of his presidency. (Califf was ultimately confirmed in a vote of 89 to four.)
“I could not support Dr. Califf’s nomination in 2016 and I cannot support it now,” Manchin said.
“I urge the Administration to nominate an FDA Commissioner that understands the gravity of the prescription drug epidemic and the role of the FDA in fighting back against the greed of the pharmaceutical industry.”
Given the 50-50 divide in the Senate, Biden will need to convince at least one Republican to support Califf’s nomination in order to get him confirmed.
Donald Trump defended rioters at the Capitol on 6 January who threatened to “hang Mike Pence”, his vice-president, according to recorded remarks released on Friday.
Trump said it was “common sense” when asked about the chants.
Trump was speaking to the ABC chief Washington correspondent, Jonathan Karl, for his book Betrayal: The Final Act of the Trump Show, which will be published on Tuesday. The recording was released by Axios.
Karl asked Trump if he was worried about Pence during the attack on the Capitol by rioters who aimed to stop the certification of electoral college results and thereby overturn Trump’s defeat by Joe Biden.
“No,” Trump said. “I thought he was well-protected, and I had heard that he was in good shape. No. Because I had heard he was in very good shape. But, but, no, I think – ”
Karl interjected: “Because you heard those chants – that was terrible. I mean – ”
Trump said: “He could have – well, the people were very angry.”
Karl said: “They were saying ‘hang Mike Pence’.”
“Because it’s common sense, Jon,” Trump said, repeating baseless claims about election fraud.
The Democratic chair of the select committee, Bennie Thompson, has previously made clear that he is open to holding Mark Meadows in criminal contempt for defying the panel’s subpoena.
In his letter yesterday to Meadows’ attorney, Thompson argued there is “no valid legal basis for Mr Meadows’s continued resistance to the Select Committee’s subpoena”.
“The Select Committee will view Mr. Meadows’s failure to appear at the deposition, and to produce responsive documents or a privilege log indicating the specific basis for withholding any documents you believe are protected by privilege, as willful non-compliance,” Thompson wrote.
“Such willful noncompliance with the subpoena would force the Select Committee to consider invoking the contempt of Congress procedures in 2 U.S.C. §§ 192, 194—which could result in a referral from the House of Representatives to the Department of Justice for criminal charges—as well as the possibility of having a civil action to enforce the subpoena brought against Mr Meadows in his personal capacity.”
The House select committee will now have to decide whether to pursue criminal contempt charges against Mark Meadows, the former chief of staff to Donald Trump.
If the committee votes to recommend holding Meadows in criminal contempt, the full House will vote on the matter.
If the House approves the contempt measure, which is likely given that Democrats control the chamber, the justice department would then have to decide whether to prosecute Meadows.
The House voted last month to refer Steve Bannon to the justice department for refusing to comply with the committee’s subpoena, but the department has not yet said whether it will prosecute the former Trump adviser.
Meadows refuses to appear for deposition before Capitol attack committee
Mark Meadows, the former chief of staff to Donald Trump, did not appear for his scheduled deposition before the House select committee investigating the Capitol insurrection.
Meadows had been expected to start testifying at 10 am ET, but that time came and went without any appearance of the former administration official.
Select committee aides were seen leaving the conference room where Meadows was supposed to testify after it became clear he would not show up.
Asked whether the committee would immediately move to bring criminal contempt charges against Meadows, one of the committee counselors declined to comment.
In case you missed it yesterday: The federal appeals court in Washington DC granted Donald Trump’s request to temporarily block the National Archives from releasing records to the bipartisan House select committee analysing the Capitol insurrection and the conduct of Trump and senior aides in his administration in relation to it.
He had asked the appeals court on Thursday morning for a temporary injunction that followed US district judge Tanya Chutkan’s ruling earlier that Trump could not claim executive privilege over the White House documents subpoenaed by the committee.
As is customary, the DC circuit court randomly assigns three judges to a panel to consider the appeal.
It was announced that the three judges who will hear Trump’s appeal following the granting of the temporary stay will be Patricia Millett, Robert Wilkins and Ketanji Brown Jackson. All three were nominated by Democrats.
The court has set a hearing for 30 November to hear oral arguments in the case, granting a request for an expedited schedule.
The latest statement from Mark Meadows’ attorney, George Terwilliger, seems to indicate the former White House chief of staff will not be appearing for his scheduled deposition before the select committee this morning.
Terwilliger once again argued that the clash between Meadows and the committee investigating the Capitol insurrection represented a “sharp legal dispute”.
“Legal disputes are appropriately resolved by courts,” Terwilliger said. “It would be irresponsible for Mr Meadows to prematurely resolve that dispute by voluntarily waiving privileges that are at the heart of those legal issues.”
But the chair of the select committee, Bennie Thompson, and White House lawyers have said there is no legal basis for Meadows to ignore the panel’s subpoena.
In his latest letter to Terwilliger, Thompson said Donald Trump’s sweeping claims of executive privilege over the materials sought by the committee do not withstand legal scrutiny.
“[A]s you know and, as explained in my letter dated October 25, categorical claims of executive privilege run afoul of caselaw requiring that any claim of executive privilege be asserted narrowly and specifically,” Thompson said.
“Simply put, there is no valid legal basis for Mr. Meadows’s continued resistance to the Select Committee’s subpoena.”
The move to threaten criminal prosecution for Mark Meadows amounts to an abrupt and sharp escalation for the select committee as it seeks to enforce its subpoena against one of Donald Trump’s closest aides first issued in September.
But despite the threat of criminal prosecution, Meadows was not expected to attend his deposition, scheduled to take place with select committee counsel in a nondescript House office building on Capitol Hill, according to a source familiar with the matter.
The select committee is targeting Meadows since his role as Trump’s former White House chief of staff means he is likely to hold the key to uncover Trump’s involvement in efforts on 5 January to stop the congressional certification of Joe Biden’s election victory.
The select committee also believes that Meadows remained by Trump’s side for most of 6 January, and was therefore in a unique position to know what the former president was privately thinking and doing at the White House as the deadly attack on the Capitol unfolded.
One of Donald Trump’s former advisers, Steve Bannon, is already facing potential contempt charges over his refusal to comply with a subpoena from the House select committee investigating the Capitol insurrection.
Bannon has used his popular podcast to continue spreading lies about widespread fraud in the 2020 election. The day before the insurrection, he told listeners, “All hell is going to break loose tomorrow.”
When Bannon refused to comply with the committee’s subpoena, the House voted last month to refer him to the justice department for potential contempt charges.
Now the justice department has to decide whether to prosecute Bannon over the matter. The department has not yet announced any decision in the case.
Meadows to testify or face potential contempt charge from Capitol attack committee
Greetings from Washington, live blog readers.
Mark Meadows, the former chief of staff to Donald Trump, is scheduled to testify today before the House select committee investigating the Capitol insurrection.
But Meadows’ attorney, George Terwilliger, has indicated to the committee that the former administration official feels “duty bound” to disregard the panel’s subpoena because of Trump’s claims of executive privilege over the information sought by investigators.
In a letter to Terwilliger yesterday, the chair of the select committee, Bennie Thompson, warned that Meadows could face criminal contempt charges if he does not appear for his deposition.
“Simply put, there is no valid legal basis for Mr. Meadows’s continued resistance to the Select Committee’s subpoena,” the Democratic chair said.
“The select committee will view Mr Meadows’s failure to appear at the deposition, and to produce responsive documents or a privilege log indicating the specific basis for withholding any documents you believe are protected by privilege, as willful non-compliance.”
So will Meadows show up to testify, or will he join Trump adviser Steve Bannon in facing potential contempt charges? Time will tell.
The blog will have more coming up, so stay tuned.