A member of the House of Representatives has suggested that former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows will avail himself of constitutional protections against self-incrimination because he could face prosecution under laws barring treason against the United States.
Speaking during a House Rules Committee meeting to consider rules for a debate on a resolution recommending that Meadows be prosecuted for contempt of Congress, Rep Ed Perlmutter said he believed Meadows would soon express a “desire to take the Fifth Amendment” because Title 18, section 115 of the United States Code — the part which defines “treason” — could be applicable to his situation.
“Treason against the United States shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to the enemies, giving them aid and comfort. Treason is … the crime of attacking a state authority to which one owes allegiance,” said Perlmutter, a Colorado Democrat.
Perlmutter suggested Meadows had ended his cooperation with the select committee investigating the January 6 insurrection because he had pledged his loyalty to Donald Trump above that of the United States.
“All of a sudden everything stops because there’s a pledge of allegiance to Donald Trump above and beyond the Constitution here, which really is frightening … which is why I think that we’re going to see the Fifth Amendment being pled,” he said.
“Whoever owing allegiance to the states levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere is guilty of treason and shall suffer death … or shall be imprisoned not less than five years and fined under this title but not less than $10,000 and shall be incapable of any office under the United States,” Perlmutter continued, reading directly from the treason statute in US law.
He added that in his opinion, the memos and other documents that have been reported as being considered in Trump’s White House — documents which laid out how to install Trump for a second term as president over the wishes of American voters — were “treasonous”.
“We’ve danced around this a lot, and we talk about obstructing Congress and things like that. But this was an effort to have a coup to overthrow the country, to break the Pledge of Allegiance we make to this country and to the Constitution,” he said, adding that Meadows “has two masters — Donald Trump and the United States of America”.
“I could see he is in a pickle about that, but it’s the United States of America and the Constitution of the United States to which he owes allegiance,” he said.