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Politics: Trump's attempt to rewrite history just took a big hit

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The news that former Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows is now cooperating with the House's January 6 select committee investigation represents a clear and present danger to the former president and his attempts to rewrite the history of that fateful day.

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows on October 21, 2020. © Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images/FILE White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows on October 21, 2020.

"He has produced records to the committee and will soon appear for an initial deposition," committee chair Bennie Thompson told CNN of Meadows. "The Select Committee expects all witnesses, including Mr. Meadows, to provide all information requested and that the Select Committee is lawfully entitled to receive. The Committee will continue to assess his degree of compliance with our subpoena after the deposition."

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Meadows' cooperation marks a serious reversal from his stance earlier this month when he failed to heed a congressional subpoena to appear for a deposition about what he knew and when -- both during the January 6 riot and in the days leading up to it.

What changed his mind? It's impossible to know for sure, but the Department of Justice's decision to bring criminal contempt charges against former Trump White House political guru Steve Bannon -- the same day that Meadows no-showed for his deposition -- for refusing to cooperate with the committee could have something to do with it.

As I wrote at the time:

"In making a move to indict Bannon, Garland sends a clear signal to other Trumpists currently refusing to testify that the stakes for non-compliance are now very serious....Each charge of contempt carries the possibility of a year imprisonment as well as fines."

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Now, it's important to note that Meadows' willingness to work with the committee appears to extend only as far as providing some documents and agreeing to sit for an interview. It's not at all clear whether he will actually answer some of the most pressing questions that the committee has for him or provide all the documents they want from him.

That said, the fact that Meadows is cooperating at all is a telling indicator of the growing power of the January 6 committee -- and its increasing threat to Trump.

Meadows served as Trump's chief of staff and -- according to several books about the final days of the Trump presidency -- was intimately involved in the discussions at the White House around contesting the 2020 Electoral College results.

ABC's Jonathan Karl reported in his new book that Meadows forwarded a memo from Trump attorney Jenna Ellis that detailed how the January 6 Electoral College vote could be overturned to then-Vice President Mike Pence's office.

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And in "Peril," a book by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, the authors detail a January 2 meeting organized by Meadows in which South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham met with former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and the rest of the president's legal team for a discussion on how to overturn the election results.

Meadows' cooperation comes at an already-fraught time for Trump. Also on Tuesday, a DC appeals court heard arguments from the former president's lawyers about why his documents from January 6 should be protected by executive privilege and not released to the January 6 committee.

As CNN noted about the hearing:

"All three judges on the appellate panel Tuesday that's hearing former President Donald Trump's case seeking to block release of his January 6 documents signaled that they had skepticism about the arguments his lawyer was making in the case."

If the court rules against Trump, Tuesday could well be seen as the day when everything -- or at least many things -- changed for Trump and the January 6 committee.

Meadows' willingness to talk -- and provide at least some documents -- sends a very clear signal to other members of Trump's orbit who may have been weighing their options when it comes to resisting subpoenas from the committee: Don't do it.

The more people close to Trump who talk, the more fulsome picture the public will get of what he did (and didn't do) in those last days of his time in the White House.

And, if early indications are accurate, it won't look good for Trump.

Lin-Manuel Miranda reveals Stephen Sondheim thought his voicemail in 'Tick, Tick ... Boom!' sounded 'a little cliché' so he re-wrote the dialogue and re-recorded it himself .
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