Former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows is having a rough time promoting his upcoming book.
First, Meadows had to eat crow for inadvertently demolishing former President Donald Trump’s timeline of when he knew he was positive for COVID-19. Now, House Democrats are claiming that by writing the book, Meadows may have waived his right to invoke executive privilege when he talks to the committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.
“It's… very possible that by discussing the events of Jan. 6 in his book, if he does that, he's waiving any claim of privilege,” Rep. Adam Schiff, one of the Democrats on the committee and a longtime target of Trump, told Politico Thursday. “So, it’d be very difficult for him to maintain ‘I can't speak about events to you, but I can speak about them in my book.’ ”
Meadows’ book, The Chief’s Chief, will be released Dec. 7. The book purports to be the “definitive book about the final year of President Trump’s first term, told by the only man (other than President Trump himself) who was there for every minute of it,” according to his publisher.
But Meadows apparently prioritizes loyalty to Trump over his proximity to the action. For example, his book reveals that Trump—looking a “little tired” and potentially having a “slight cold”—tested positive for COVID-19 on Sept. 26, 2020, three days before his first debate with Joe Biden, according to a report from the Guardian earlier this week.
Meadows reportedly wrote that the positive result came from an “old model kit,” and that another test came back negative. The White House never disclosed the first positive result, and the debate proceeded. “Nothing was going to stop [Trump] from going out there,” Meadows reportedly wrote in the book.
Earlier this week, Trump flat-out denied Meadows’ account in a statement. “The story of me having COVID prior to, or during, the first debate is Fake News,” Trump said Wednesday. “In fact, a test revealed that I did not have COVID prior to the debate.” Privately, Trump was “furious about what is in the book and he’s angry with Mark Meadows,” CNN reported Wednesday.
Then Meadows, rather incredibly, agreed with Trump’s assessment. “Well, the president’s right, it’s fake news,” he said during an interview with Newsmax Wednesday. “If you actually read the book, the context of it, that story outlined a false positive.”
Pressed on the timing—the “false positive” followed by Trump being rushed to Walter Reed Medical Center a week later—Meadows said: “Yeah, listen, any time that we look at things and we look at tests and we look at what happened, that’s certainly—that’s what I outline in the book.”
“He didn’t have COVID during the debate,” Meadows added later, before encouraging Newsmax watchers to buy his book and “read it for themselves.”
That humiliation aside, Meadows’ publication of the book may have bigger legal ramifications. He’s now cooperating with the House investigation into January 6 and the Capitol riot, CNN reported earlier this week. In the new book, Meadows blames the Capitol riot on a “handful of fanatics.” So far, more than 700 people have been charged in connection with the insurrection.
Meadows also writes that after Trump’s speech at the Ellipse before the insurrection, where he encouraged supporters to march on the Capitol, Trump told his chief of staff that he was “speaking metaphorically” because he “knew as well as anyone that we couldn’t organize a trip like that on such short notice,” according to the Guardian.
The good news for Meadows is that at least a few people aside from reporters will be reading his book. “I've seen excerpts from it,” Rep. Bennie Thompson, the Democratic chair of the January 6 committee, told reporters Thursday. “Some of what we plan to ask him is in the excerpts of the book.”
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