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Jan. 6 panel threatens contempt vote after Meadows withdraws

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Attorney says Mark Meadows won’t cooperate with Jan. 6 panel

By ERIC TUCKER and MARY CLARE JALONICK

WASHINGTON (AP) — The leaders of the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection are threatening to hold former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows in contempt of Congress after his lawyer said Tuesday that his client will cease cooperating with the panel.

In an abrupt reversal, Meadows attorney George Terwilliger said in a letter that a deposition would be “untenable” because the Jan. 6 panel “has no intention of respecting boundaries” concerning questions that former President Donald Trump has claimed are off-limits because of executive privilege. Terwilliger also said he learned over the weekend that the committee had issued a subpoena to a third-party communications provider that he said would include “intensely personal” information.

“As a result of careful and deliberate consideration of these factors, we now must decline the opportunity to appear voluntarily for a deposition,” Terwilliger wrote in the letter.

The committee’s Democratic chairman, Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson, and Republican vice chairwoman, Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, said in a statement that they will have “no choice” but to vote on recommending contempt charges against Meadows if he does not show up for a previously scheduled closed-door deposition Wednesday.

“Tomorrow’s deposition, which was scheduled at Mr. Meadows’s request, will go forward as planned,” Thompson and Cheney said in a statement.

Meadows’ decision not to cooperate is a blow to the committee, as lawmakers were hoping to interview Trump’s top White House aide about Trump’s actions during and ahead of the violent attack of his supporters. They had also hoped to use Meadows as an example to other witnesses who may be considering not cooperating as Trump has filed legal challenges to block the panel’s work.

Lawmakers on the committee have blasted Meadows’ reluctance to testify, citing privilege concerns, while he is also releasing a book this week that details his work inside the White House. Thompson and Cheney said they also have questions about documents Meadows has already turned over to the panel.

“Even as we litigate privilege issues, the Select Committee has numerous questions for Mr. Meadows about records he has turned over to the Committee with no claim of privilege, which include real-time communications with many individuals as the events of January 6th unfolded,” they said in the statement.

Thompson and Cheney said the panel also wants to speak to Meadows about “voluminous official records stored in his personal phone and email accounts” that could be turned over to the committee by the National Archives in the coming weeks. Trump has sued to stop the release of those records, and the case is currently pending in the U.S. Court of Appeals.

The two committee leaders did not comment on Terwilliger’s claim about subpoenas to third-party communications providers. The committee in August issued a sweeping demand that telecommunications and social media companies preserve the personal communications of hundreds of people who may have been connected to the attack, but did not ask the companies to turn over the records at that time.

Terwilliger said in a statement last week that he was continuing to work with the committee and its staff on a potential accommodation that would not require Meadows to waive the executive privileges claimed by Trump or “forfeit the long-standing position that senior White House aides cannot be compelled to testify” before Congress.

“We appreciate the Select Committee’s openness to receiving voluntary responses on non-privileged topics,” he said then.

Thompson said then that the panel would “continue to assess his degree of compliance” and would take action against Meadows or any other witnesses who don’t comply, including by voting to recommend contempt charges. The House has already voted to hold longtime Trump ally Steve Bannon in contempt after he defied a subpoena, and the Justice Department indicted Bannon on two counts.

In halting cooperation, Terwilliger cited comments from Thompson that he said unfairly cast aspersions on witnesses who invoke their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. A separate witness, former Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark, has said he will invoke those Fifth Amendment rights, prompting questions from the committee about whether he would directly acknowledge that his answers could incriminate him.

Thompson said last week that Clark’s lawyer had offered “no specific basis” for Clark to assert the Fifth and that he viewed it as a “last-ditch attempt to delay the Select Committee’s proceedings,” but he said members would hear Clark out. The committee has already voted to recommend contempt charges for Clark, and Thompson has said it will proceed with a House vote if the panel is not satisfied with his compliance at a second deposition on Dec. 16.

In his new book, released Tuesday, Meadows reveals that Trump received a positive COVID-19 test before a presidential debate. He also reveals that when Trump was later hospitalized with COVID, he was far sicker than the White House revealed at the time.

Trump — who told his supporters to “fight like hell” before hundreds of his supporters broke into the Capitol and stopped the presidential electoral count — has attempted to hinder much of the committee’s work, including in the ongoing court case, by arguing that Congress cannot obtain information about his private White House conversations.

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Associated Press writer Jill Colvin contributed to this report.

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Becky Hammon: It was easy decision to leave NBA, return to WNBA

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Becky Hammon: It was easy decision to leave NBA, return to WNBA

Becky Hammon said she has always followed her heart and not worried about what other people think of her career decisions.

There were concerns when she chose to play at Colorado State instead of a bigger school. There was backlash about her playing for Russia in the Olympics and now she has heard rumblings about leaving the NBA and coach the WNBA’s Las Vegas Aces.

“My heart was saying it was time to go. This is where I am supposed to be right now,” she said in a phone interview with The Associated Press. “There were a lot of sleepless nights getting to this conclusion.”

She spent eight years as an assistant for the San Antonio Spurs becoming the first fulltime female coach in NBA history. She learned from one of the NBA’s best in Gregg Popovich and now feels it is time to for a different path, so she pivoted to the WNBA, where she played for many years.

“Las Vegas sees me as a head coach now,” she said. “The WNBA has called every year with job openings. … I’ve always said thank you I’m very flattered, but stayed on this path. This was first time where I was like I’ll listen.” ”

She’s proud of her still–being-written legacy as a trailblazer, having interviewed for several NBA head coaching jobs. But for now, her dream of becoming the first woman to lead an NBA team is on hold.

“Women are getting hired in all sorts of positions now. Not just the NBA, but across professional sports leagues,” she said. “For anyone to say the needle hasn’t moved is wrong. The process (interviewing) in Portland moved the needle. It was a great process for me.”

Hammon has heard the outside noise that taking the WNBA job is a step down and she takes umbrage with any who believes it.

“I think it’s an ignorant statement. To think I’ve outgrown the WNBA in a coaching capacity is ridiculous,” she said. “I’d rather be a coach in the WNBA and have my own organization and be running a team.”

There are still a half dozen women assistant coaches in the NBA. Hammon’s resume jas earned her plenty of respect: A person familiar with her contract says she will be the WNBA’s highest-paid coach. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because details of the deal has not been publicly announced, and they are still unclear.

“It’s a great opportunity to have a head coaching job at that level.,” Popovich said. “To prove herself. She’s already proven herself to me, but that doesn’t matter in the long run. She’s interviewed for a few jobs in the NBA, and she’s more than qualified and would have done a great job.”

Hammon will be pulling double-duty for the next few months until the Spurs’ season is over. One of the first things that she’ll have to do is hire her own coaching staff. She’s begun calling Aces’ players to get to know them.

“Right now I’m reaching out to all the players on the roster,” she said. “Establish a relationship with them and talk a little bit about roles what we’re doing offensively and defensively.”

The Aces finished with the second-best record in the WNBA last season at 24-8 before falling to the Phoenix Mercury in the semifinals. The franchise, looking for its first WNBA title, has a solid core led by former MVP A’ja Wilson.

Hammon was coy about what her on-court philosophy will be, only saying that the team which was last in 3-pointers attempted will definitely shoot more this season. The 44-year-old former WNBA player says she just wants to coach for now and not worry about being the team’s general manager.

“Down the road we’ll talk. I just want to coach. That’s it. Get out there, get with the players,” Hammon said. “Get in the foxhole with each other.”

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Avalanche’s Nazem Kadri, former DU star Troy Terry voted to NHL All-Star Game

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Avalanche’s Nazem Kadri, former DU star Troy Terry voted to NHL All-Star Game

Avalanche center Nazem Kadri is headed to his first NHL All-Star Game. So is Colorado native and former Denver Pioneers standout Troy Terry.

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DIA sets new record for the number of guns seized at airport security

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DIA sets new record for the number of guns seized at airport security

Denver International Airport ranked sixth nationally in 2021 for the number of firearms seized by TSA agents at security checkpoints, the Transportation Security Administration announced Tuesday.

In 2021, agents found 141 firearms in travelers carry-on luggage, more than any year since 2018, according to TSA data. Nationally, 5,972 guns were seized at airport security checkpoints. The 141 guns seized set a new record at the Denver airport, the TSA said in a news release.

“As the data suggests, travelers bringing firearms in carry-on luggage is not new and we have now reached an unacceptable level of carelessness by gun owners. Simply stated, one gun in carry-on luggage is one too many,” TSA Federal Security Director for Colorado Larry Nau said in a news release.

Still, the percentage of passengers trying to bring guns onto airplanes is small.

Security agents at DIA screened approximately 18.3 million departing passengers and crew in 2021, making it the sixth busiest airport for TSA security checkpoint screening operations. That is a 72% increase in passenger traffic over 2020, a year where air travel was marred by the coronavirus pandemic.

The airports with the most firearms seized at security in 2021 are:

  • Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport , 507
  • Dallas Fort Worth International Airport, 317
  • Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport, 245
  • Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, 196
  • Nashville International Airport, 163.

Travelers caught with firearms at an airport security checkpoint face criminal and civil penalties. Even those with concealed carry permits must check their unloaded weapons in a hard-sided case.

For more information on carrying firearms on an airplane, visit https://www.tsa.gov/travel/transporting-firearms-and-ammunition.

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