By Katelyn Polantz, CNN Reporter, Crime and Justice
Eighteen national media outlets led by CNN are asking a court to make public secret court filings in former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows’ lawsuit against the House select committee investigating the January 6, 2021, US Capitol attack.
The House’s ongoing standoff with Meadows has been one of the most public and central disputes of the investigation. But twice in Meadows’ lawsuit, the House has submitted filings to the court under seal with no public explanation.
“The January 6 assault on the Capitol was a public event. The House Select Committee is making an effort to establish a public reckoning of that event. This Court should likewise conduct its work on this historic matter in full public view,” lawyers for the media coalition wrote in a new request to the federal court in Washington, DC, on Monday.
Media outlets have previously succeeded in obtaining hours of video clips from criminal court proceedings that show, up close, the violence of Donald Trump supporters during the January 6 riot.
The House, in doing its own investigation separate from the hundreds of criminal cases, has faced more than two dozen lawsuits from witnesses trying to block the January 6 panel from obtaining information or from calling them to testify. Until now, those cases have largely been argued in public.
Witness cases against the House are slow-moving, and Meadows’ case is a critical one.
In the Meadows case so far, the House has dropped hundreds of pages of witness testimony transcripts and other evidence it’s collected in an attempt to show that the panel needs to question the close Trump adviser.
Lawyers for the House have told DC District Court Judge Carl Nichols, who oversees the lawsuit, they now have a “laser-like focus” about what they’d like to ask Meadows.
“The Select Committee has told the American public that transparency will be key to its work,” the media coalition told the court. “The Press Coalition advances precisely that same public interest in transparency and accountability.”
The case could come to a head in court around the same time the House select committee’s public hearings begin in June.
Meadows did not turn over some documents the House subpoenaed from him, nor has he sat for an interview. Citing the possibility that information around the ex-President may be privileged, Meadows has told the court he cannot testify and also has sought to block a House subpoena for his phone records.
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