Then-U.S. President Donald Trump speaks as White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows (right) listens in July 29, 2020, ahead of a fundraising luncheon for the Republican Party and his reelection campaign. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, in addition to facing criminal charges in Georgia for his alleged role in attempting to overturn the 2020 election for Donald Trump, now faces a civil lawsuit by the publisher of his book, a lawsuit that says he authored one thing and reportedly told special counsel Jack Smith something entirely different about who actually won the election.
The lawsuit, filed in Sarasota County, Florida, alleges at its core that Meadows breached a publishing agreement with All Seasons Press LLC by reneging on a promise that “all statements contained in the Work are true and based on reasonable research for accuracy” and that the author of The Chief’s Chief “has not made any misrepresentations to the Publisher about the Work.”
The plaintiff publisher claimed that there’s reason to conclude that neither Mark Meadows nor former President Donald Trump “actually believed” that massive election fraud stole the election from the 45th president and handed it to the 46th president, Joe Biden.
The publisher claimed it suffered “significant monetary and reputational damage” when reports as recent as Oct. 24 said that Meadows told Jack Smith “and/or his staff investigating the January 6, 2021 insurrection and attack at the United States Capitol,” within the confines of a federal grand jury proceeding “under oath in exchange for immunity from prosecution,” that he warned Trump not to tell his supporters that the 2020 election was marred and stolen through fraud.
The lawsuit was referring to an ABC report citing “sources” that stated Meadows spoke with Smith’s team at least three times, one of which was said to be before a grand jury under a grant of immunity.
The report said Meadows told the feds Trump was “dishonest” when he preemptively claimed after election night in November 2020, while numerous votes had yet be counted, that a “fraud” was perpetrated upon the American people and that “frankly, we did win this election.”
“Obviously we didn’t win,” Meadows reportedly told the Special Counsel’s Office. The ABC report also mentioned Meadows’ book and its repetition of the claim that the election was “rigged” and “stolen,” and that there was “actual evidence of fraud, right there in plain sight for anyone to access and analyze”:
Sources told ABC News that Smith’s investigators were keenly interested in questioning Meadows about election-related conversations he had with Trump during his final months in office, and whether Meadows actually believed some of the claims he included in a book he published after Trump left office — a book that promised to “correct the record” on Trump.
The Oct. 24 ABC report didn’t just inspire a response from Meadows lawyer George Terwilliger, who called it “largely inaccurate,” former President Trump himself posted at length on Truth Social.
That post was central to U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan’s decision to lift her stay of a partial gag order in Jack Smith’s Jan. 6 prosecution in Washington, D.C., of the former president. It’s a decision that Trump is currently appealing at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.
“The statement singles out a foreseeable witness for purposes of characterizing his potentially unfavorable testimony as a ‘lie’ ‘mad[e] up’ to secure immunity, and it attacks him as a ‘weakling and coward’ if he provides that unfavorable testimony — an attack that could readily be interpreted as an attempt to influence or prevent the witness’s participation in this case,” Chutkan, a Barack Obama appointee, wrote of the Meadows post. “The plain distinctions between this statement and the prior one — apparent to the court and both parties — demonstrate that far from being arbitrary or standardless, the Order’s prohibition on ‘targeting’ statements can be straightforwardly understood and applied.”
All Seasons Press (shortened to ASP in court documents) said that it entered into an agreement with Meadows through True Road Books, Inc., which “later assigned its publishing rights in the Book to ASP by assignment dated September 21, 2021.”
The publisher, which said it has “focused on conservative writers and trailblazing women in business and financial innovation,” claimed that “one of” Meadows’ “primary theses” in The Chief’s Chief was that the liberal media was complicit in or actively orchestrating a “long con” to “rig the election and get away with it.”
The lawsuit highlighted an exchange that Meadows said he had with Trump on the subject of the election outcome:
“Mark,” he would say to me. “Look, if I lost, I would have no problem admitting it. I would sit back and retire and probably have a much easier life. But I didn’t lose. People need me to get back to work. We’re not done yet.”
The plaintiff said that Meadows repeated the same idea later on in the book, that Trump could have returned to a private life of luxury rather than exhausting all legal avenues to contest an election, reiterating the belief that the 2020 election had been stolen.
The lawsuit alleged, however, that the reporting about what Meadows may have told Jack Smith et al. appeared to definitively undercut the recurring theme of the book, in violation of the publishing agreement.
“In the Book’s Prologue entitled ‘Hanging Around’ Meadows assured readers that the statements in the Book are accurate,” the lawsuit said. “He relates former President Trump’s request regarding the Book: ‘The president asked only that I get the truth out with the book.’”
As part of the agreement, Meadows was paid an advance of $350,000, an advance the publisher now seeks to recover — plus damages.
The publisher said that it moved forward with the agreement even though there was media “speculation” as early as the latter months of 2021 that Meadows actually was or was considering cooperating with the Jan. 6 Committee.
In response to such media reporting, ASP said, it wrote Meadows through a lawyer on Dec. 6, 2021, that the book “may contain misstatements concerning former President Trump.” The publisher indicated it was proceeding towards publication but threatened to withhold the final third of the $350,000 advance “until the matter was satisfactorily resolved,” according to the complaint.
The very next day, media reports came out that saying that Meadows reversed course, resulting in a contempt referral from the Jan. 6 Committee that went nowhere.
Three days lawyer, Mark Meadows’ attorney son Blake Meadows sent a formal letter to ASP demanding the remaining $116,666 of the advance owed under the agreement, calling concerns about the truthfulness of the claims in the book “specious.”
“Mr. Meadows is aware of the specious allegations that were published regarding a portion of the book which was taken out of context, and which have already been addressed by both Mr. Meadows and former President Trump in multiple press releases,” the letter said, also implying that ASP had leaked the book to the media, according to the lawsuit.
“To ASP’s knowledge (a) no one subject to its control leaked the Book to the press and the claim that it somehow caused negative press is incomprehensible and false, (b) it acted properly to investigate the truthfulness of Meadow’s statements in the Book, including by speaking directly with Meadows, President Trump and others, and (c) Mr. Meadows knew about the assignment and accepted all payments made by ASP,” the publisher responded in the lawsuit.
After the book was published in February 2022, ASP said, Meadows received the remainder of the $350,000 advance.
In the aftermath of the Oct. 2023 ABC report, ASP’s concerned were renewed.
“If such media reports are accurate, Meadows testified under oath that his Book contains known falsehoods in clear and direct breach of the warranties contained in the Agreement, that ‘all statements contained in the [Book] are true and based on reasonable research for accuracy’ and that the Meadows has made no ‘misrepresentations to the Publisher about the [Book],’” the lawsuit said, arguing that there is “ever increasingly credible evidence that Meadows lied in the Book in clear breach of the Agreement and the warranties that he made therein.”
As a result, the book was pulled off of shelves on Nov. 2 and the lawsuit was filed the next day.
“[H]aving heard nothing from Meadows and without contacting the Special Prosecutor, which would have rendered ASP vulnerable to accusations of attempting to interfere with the investigation, [ASP] determined that it was ethically obliged and pulled the Book off the market,” the lawsuit continued.
The lawsuit sought a jury trial on ASP’s breach of contract claim, alleging that the damages are no small matter for the mission of the “small independent publisher” to support conservative voices.
“By Meadows’ improper conduct, he has also prevented ASP, a small independent publisher, from enjoying the benefits of the Agreement – namely recouping its significant out-of-pocket expenses relating to the publication and marketing of the Book and any profits therefrom, the loss of which damages ASP’s ability to support other conservative and innovative authors’ voices in accordance with its mission,” the complaint continued. “Meadows wrongful conduct has also caused ASP to suffer and to continue to suffer damage to its reputation in the market for honesty and integrity.”
Through the litigation, plaintiff hopes to recover the $350,000 advance money, more that $1 million in lost profits, “out-of-pocket” damages to the tune of $600,000-plus dollars, and “incidental damages” to the publisher’s reputation exceeding $1 million.
Law&Crime reached out to Meadows attorney George Terwilliger for comment.
Read the publisher’s lawsuit obtained by Law&Crime here.
Have a tip we should know? [email protected]