Mark Meadows did not appear for deposition with January 6 committee
FILE PIC: Former Trump White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. /Getty Images

FILE PIC: Former Trump White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. /Getty Images

Former Trump White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows did not appear for a deposition on Friday in front of the House select committee investigating January 6, sources familiar with the investigation tell CNN, setting up a potential showdown that could lead to the panel beginning a criminal referral process against him.

Committee staffers had been prepared to go forward with the interview and waited in a room on Capitol Hill with a stenographer, but started to file out of the room nine minutes after the deadline passed.

The committee has not commented on whether Meadows was a no-show, and his attorney did not respond to a request for comment after the scheduled deposition.

Ahead of the scheduled deposition Friday morning, Meadows' attorney, George J. Terwilliger III, issued a statement saying his client would not cooperate with the committee until courts ruled on former President Donald Trump's claims of executive privilege, noting "a sharp legal dispute with the committee."

"The issues concern whether Mr. Meadows can be compelled to testify and whether, even if he could, that he could be forced to answer questions that involve privileged communications," Terwilliger said. "Legal disputes are appropriately resolved by courts. 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."

Terwilliger added, "No matter how important the subject matter of the committee's work, decades of litigation over Executive Privilege shows how critically important it is for a president to have access to advice and counsel without fear that political opponents in Congress will later be able to pull away the shield of confidentiality that protects candor in those communications."

By officially setting a deadline that Meadows did not meet, the committee took an official step toward possibly referring Meadows to the Department of Justice for contempt of Congress.

Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson, a Mississippi Democrat, scheduled the Friday deposition late Thursday evening in an effort to force Meadows' compliance.

"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 on Thursday ahead of the scheduled deposition.

(With input from agencies)

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