The White House has rejected at least two more executive privilege requests from former President Donald Trump in an effort to shield certain documents from the Democrat-controlled House Select Committee on Jan. 6, the panel looking into the origins of the Capitol riot earlier this year.
Multiple reports confirmed that the Biden administration has refused to grant Trump’s request on at least two occasions — one more than previously reported.
“President Biden has considered the former President’s assertion, and I have engaged in consultations with the Office of Legal Counsel at the Department of Justice,” White House counsel Dana Remus wrote in a letter to National Archivist David Ferriero on Monday, informing him that the commander-in-chief would not invoke executive privilege for additional materials Trump wants to keep under wraps.
“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 the documents provided to the White House on September 16, 2021, and September 23, 2021. Accordingly, President Biden does not uphold the former President’s assertion of privilege,” she added, according to CNN, which was the first to report the development.
Remus went on to quote an earlier letter to the National Archives — that Biden feels the “extraordinary events” that occurred on Jan. 6 merit dismissing Trump’s privilege requests. And she went on to instruct Ferriero to turn over documents to the Jan. 6 committee 30 after notifying Trump “absent any intervening court order.”
To that point, Trump filed a lawsuit last week to stop the release of materials to the Jan. 6 committee, seeking to uphold his executive privilege claim.
“The Committee’s request amounts to nothing less than a vexatious, illegal fishing expedition openly endorsed by Biden and designed to unconstitutionally investigate President Trump and his administration,” says the lawsuit. “Our laws do not permit such an impulsive, egregious action against a former President and his close advisors.”
The suit went on to argue that historically, succeeding administrations have jealously guarded executive privilege claims in order to protect private communications and the workings of prior White Houses where there is an expectation they will be held confidentially.
“As it relates to any materials being sought in situations like this, where fundamental privileges and constitutional issues are at stake and where a committee has declined to grant sufficient time to conduct a full review, there is a longstanding bipartisan tradition of protective assertions of executive privilege designed to ensure the ability to make a final assertion, if necessary, over some or all of the requested material,” the suit says.
Earlier this month, Remus explained in a letter to the Archives that in this case, Trump’s claims cannot and should not be honored.
“These are unique and extraordinary circumstances,” said Remus. “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 claimed.
Politico reported that there is a “twist” to the Jan. 6 committee’s requests indicating some deference to the Executive Branch, perhaps with future claims of privilege from Democratic administrations in mind.
“The Jan. 6 select committee has ‘deferred’ its request for a subset of documents that the National Archives identified as responsive to their request, Remus noted” in her letter, the outlet reported Monday.
“It’s a sign that the committee is acceding to some efforts to protect privileged information even if it might fall under their purview,” Politico added.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Monday that the administration will be looking at Trump privilege claims on a “case by case basis.”
“As we’ve said previously, this will be an ongoing process and this is just the first set of documents,” she told reporters. “And we will evaluate questions of privilege on a case-by-case basis, but the president has also been clear that he believes it to be of the utmost importance for both Congress and the American people to have a complete understanding of the events of that day to prevent them from happening again.”
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