Former President Donald Trump slammed witnesses who would flip on him as “cowards and weaklings” just hours after reports said ex-chief of staff Mark Meadows answered some of special counsel Jack Smith’s questions in exchange for limited immunity in the federal Jan. 6 case.
While casting doubt on whether Meadows is actually cooperating, Trump said prosecutors are using improper threats and promises of lenient treatment to bully his acolytes into turning on him in court.
“Some people would make that deal, but they are weaklings and cowards,” Trump said on his social media site. “I don’t think that Mark Meadows is one of them, but who really knows?”
Trump added that Meadows repeatedly told him and said publicly that the 2020 election was rigged, despite reportedly telling the grand jury the opposite.
“Mark Meadows NEVER told me that allegations of significant fraud (about the RIGGED Election!) were baseless,” Trump said. “He certainly didn’t say that in his book!”
Trump’s statements skirt perilously close to witness tampering or violating the limited gag order by U.S. District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan against targeting potential witnesses in the case.
The judge’s order, which was stayed pending appeals court review, came after Smith complained that Trump is seeking to intimidate witnesses, along with public officials, and poison the jury pool.
Trump’s outburst came as ABC News added important details to the story published Tuesday about Meadows’ answering questions from Smith’s prosecutors before the federal grand jury investigating the alleged plot to overturn the 2020 election.
The story on Wednesday included clarification that Meadows answered questions only about whether Trump really believed the election was stolen from him in exchange for prosecutors agreeing not to use his answers against him in any future prosecution.
Contrary to some claims, that means Meadows has not agreed to cooperate with Smith and answer all his questions about other aspects of the alleged plot. It also means Meadows has not received any pledge that he would not face prosecution or avoid prison time if convicted.
Aside from the question whether Trump knew he lost to President Joe Biden, Meadows was at the center of many key charges against Trump.
Meadows was a key figure in the effort to create bogus slates of pro-Trump electors, helped in trying to bully Vice President Mike Pence into joining the effort to overturn the election and was by Trump’s side on Jan. 6 as a crowd of violent extremist supporters stormed the Capitol.
Meadows is still facing charges as one of Trump’s co-conspirators in the Georgia state racketeering election conspiracy case. Trump is charged with engineering a wide-ranging plot to steal the election in the Peach State and nationwide.
So far, four of their co-defendants, including three former Trump lawyers, have agreed to plead guilty and testify against Trump and the others in that case, a sign that the noose is tightening around Meadows and the former president.