Former President Donald Trump on Friday promised to “take all necessary and appropriate steps” to shield his presidential journals from an “extremely broad” request from the House Committee investigating riots in the Capitol – creating a potential court battle after President Biden said Democrat-led committees should get the documents.
There is uncertainty about how a lawsuit would end because of how rare it is to have such fights over previous presidents’ records, which are kept by the National Archives.
Trump wrote in a letter to the archives that an initial tranche of records “potentially in the millions” could not be released to the committee due to legal protection “including, but not limited to, the president’s communications, deliberation process and attorney-client privileges.”
A legal battle can delay or ruin the committee’s request.
Biden White House says the January 6 storm of the U.S. Capitol by a wild crowd of Trump supporters disrupting the certification of Electoral College results is a historically unique event that requires transparency.
“The president has determined that an allegation of executive privilege is not warranted for the first set of documents from the Trump White House that have been provided to us by the National Archives,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Friday at his daily briefing.
“As we have said before, this will be an ongoing process and this is only the first set of documents and we will assess issues of privileges on a case by case basis.”
Psaki added: “The president has also been aware that he believes it is of utmost importance to both Congress and the American people to have a full understanding of the events at the time to prevent them from happening again.”
Trump spoke to a large crowd near the White House, claiming the election was “stolen” shortly before some of his supporters violated the Capitol, searching for Vice President Mike Pence, who they hoped would ban Biden voters from key swing states.
An analysis of video from the Wall Street Journal showed that members of the Proud Boys group were key players in initiating clashes with police, including helping to collapse an outside perimeter while Trump was still speaking.
Trump supporter Ashli Babbitt was shot dead during the chaos, and three other Trump supporters died of medical emergencies. U.S. Capitol police officer Brian Sicknick died of a stroke after battling riots and several police officers and at least one accused of riots later died of suicide.
In a statement on Friday, Trump said: “The radical left-wing Democrats tried RUSSIA Witch Hunt, they tried the false accusations, and now they are trying to use Congress again to persecute their political opponents. Their requests are not based on law or reality – it is just a game for these politicians. “
Trump added: “The Democrats are full of power, but this dangerous attack on our constitution and important legal precedent will not work. This committee’s fake investigation is not about January 6 more than Russia Hoax was about Russia. Instead, it’s about to use government power to silence ‘Trump’ and our Make America Great Again movement, the greatest such achievement ever.
In a lengthy analysis for the legal blog Lawfare, former Attorney General Jonathan Shaub wrote this year that former presidents’ rights over documents are uncertain. He wrote about the murky legal terrain in connection with Trump’s trial against accusers of allegedly inciting riots.
“If Trump tries to assert executive privilege in the upcoming state court case, and Biden refuses to back it, it would, as far as I know, be a first time that a former president has tried to assert executive privilege against Congress contrary to the current president wants, ”he wrote.
“Nothing i [court precedent from the case Nixon v. Administrator of General Services] or any other judgment forcing a particular result when such a collision exists. There are also no relevant congressional precedents. ”
Some Trump staff also indicated that they would oppose the House Committee’s attempt to sue them.
Former Trump White House strategist Steve Bannon, who was not a White House staffer at the time of the riots, claimed he would not comply with the panel’s subpoena – prompting the committee to say it would not rule out “promoting criminal contempt for congressional referrals”. . ”
“While the selection committee welcomes good faith in witnesses seeking to cooperate with our investigation, we do not allow any witness to defy a lawful subpoena or attempt to run out of time, and we will quickly consider promoting a criminal. contempt for congressional referral, ”said President Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) and Vice President Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) in a statement.
Kash Patel, a former Trump aide and lawyer who worked at the Pentagon at the time of the riots, said in a statement that he did not comment on what he wants to do.
“I can confirm that I have responded to the summons in a timely manner. Other than that, I will not comment on my confidential relationship with the committee, ”Patel said. “But I can assure you that I will continue to tell the truth and stay focused on Fight With Kash to help any American who has been censored and misrepresented online.”
Fighting for management privileges has previously highlighted the relevance of congressional requests. For example, former Trump National Security Adviser John Bolton never testified at Trump’s first trial due to a lack of prompt judicial review of the case.