White House Bats Down Trump’s Attempt To Withhold Jan. 6 Docs From Congress

Joe Biden
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 08: U.S. President Joe Biden (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
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October 8, 2021 3:59 p.m.

The White House rejected former President Donald Trump’s attempt to shield Jan. 6 documents from Congress Friday, declining to assert executive privilege on his behalf. 

“President Biden has determined that an assertion of executive privilege is not in the best interests of the United States, and therefore is not justified as to any of the documents,” wrote White House counsel Dana Remus in a letter to the National Archives, according to NBC News

“These are unique and extraordinary circumstances,” she added. “Congress is examining an assault on our Constitution and democratic institutions provoked and fanned by those sworn to protect them, and the conduct under investigation extends far beyond typical deliberations concerning the proper discharge of the President’s constitutional responsibilities. The constitutional protections of executive privilege should not be used to shield, from Congress or the public, information that reflects a clear and apparent effort to subvert the Constitution itself.”

She said, per Politico, that the decision “may be limited,” though, and that documents sought by the investigators would be considered on a “case-by-case basis.”  

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White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki had previewed the move late last month. 

“The President has already concluded that it would not be appropriate to assert executive privilege, and so we will respond promptly to these questions as they arise, and certainly, as they come up from Congress,” she said at the time. 

Team Trump can now challenge the decision in court. 

The fight over executive privilege extended to specific witnesses Friday as well, when the committee threatened to start referring uncooperative witnesses for criminal contempt of Congress. The statement was prompted by Steve Bannon’s lawyer saying that his client would defy the committee’s subpoena due to Trump’s request that aides and advisers invoke executive privilege in order to withhold documents and avoid testifying. 

The executive privilege claim is particularly flimsy in Bannon’s case — the one-time chief strategist left the White House years before the 2020 election and the Jan. 6 insurrection to overturn it.

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