Former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows‘ reported grand jury testimony in the federal investigation of ex-President Donald Trump leaves an “enormously consequential question” unanswered, according to Glenn Kirschner.
Kirschner, an MSNBC legal analyst and former federal prosecutor, pointed out during the Wednesday episode of his Justice Matters podcast that the capacity in which Meadows purportedly testified to the grand jury was unknown. Kirschner said that reports of Meadows answering questions indicate that he testified as either a “cooperating witness” or an “immunized witness.”
“There is still one enormously consequential question that we don’t have the answer to yet,” Kirschner said. “In what capacity did Mark Meadows testify? Did he testify as a cooperating witness, or did he testify as an immunized witness?”
Kirschner said that Meadows must have waived his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination if reports of him answering questions during his testimony are true. He argued that Meadows likely wanted to avoid “criminal exposure” because he may have “facilitated” Trump’s alleged criminal activity.
“Mark Meadows has to be either a cooperating witness or an immunized witness because those are the two ways you can overcome his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination,” Kirschner said.
“I’m quite sure Mark Meadows didn’t just waltz into the grand jury, footloose and fancy free, without an immunity deal and without being a cooperating witness and say, ‘yes, let me just tell you everything I know,'” he added. “It just doesn’t work that way.”
The legal analyst explained the “dramatic difference between cooperating witnesses and immunized witnesses” in a minutes-long “team justice law school class,” saying that he had “dealt with many of both kinds of witnesses” while working as a federal prosecutor for 30 years.
Kirschner called the potential plea agreement “the preferred way” to extract testimony from witnesses who may be guilty of a crime. He said that offering immunity was “not the favorite approach” because Meadows would have been given “a pass for his crimes.”
“If I had to bet a buck, I would bet that the way [Special Counsel] Jack Smith went was he negotiated a guilty plea—under seal, so we don’t know about it yet,” he said. “I have to believe Jack Smith was not willing to give a criminal chief of staff to the president of the United States a pass, give him immunity.”
A report published by The Independent on Wednesday claimed that Meadows pleaded guilty to unspecified crimes and had provided his grand jury testimony in exchange for “limited immunity.”
Meadows lawyer George Terwilliger responding to the newspaper by calling Meadows’ purported plea deal “compete bull***,” although he did not address whether immunity had been granted.
Newsweek has reached out to Terwilliger via email for comment.
Kirschner’s podcast on Wednesday also cited an ABC News report claiming that Meadows answered questions concerning both of Smith’s Trump investigations—into the former president’s activities surrounding the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol and his post-presidency handling of classified documents.
The legal analyst called the report a “great development,” as it indicated Meadows could “give a firsthand account” of all “the crimes committed by Donald Trump.”
The recent reports of Meadows’ testimony are the latest indication that a federal indictment of Trump could be coming soon. Eyebrows were also raised when the former president’s legal team met with Department of Justice officials on Monday.
Trump, who is already facing state felony charges in New York, has denied wrongdoing of any sort, describing all of his recent legal difficulties as complications of a “witch hunt” and “election interference” amid his 2024 presidential campaign.
Steven Cheung, a Trump spokesperson, called Kirschner “a notorious trafficker of wild conspiracy theories and dubious legal analysis” in previous comments to Newsweek, claiming he “has been shunned by the legal community at large.”