White House rejects latest Trump claim of executive privilege
The White House is rejecting more claims of executive privilege from former President Trump over documents requested by the congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol, directing the National Archives to turn over the Trump-era documents to the committee.
In a new letter obtained by The Hill, White House counsel Dana Remus wrote that Biden consulted with the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel and determined that the former president’s privilege assertion “is not justified.”
“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,” Remus wrote in a letter to National Archivist David Ferriero on Monday, indicating Trump has made two more such assertions.
“Accordingly, President Biden does not uphold the former President’s assertion of privilege,” Remus wrote.
The letter was first reported by CNN Monday evening. It comes after Trump filed a federal lawsuit seeking to block the Jan. 6 committee from accessing records from his administration. The committee has sent a sweeping request for White House call logs, schedules and other documents on Jan. 6.
The White House earlier this month said it would not assert executive privilege to block the committee from accessing the first tranche of documents requested by the Jan. 6 select committee.
White House officials have said they plan to consider the requests from the committee on a case-by-case basis.
Monday’s letter does not detail the specific documents beyond identifying them as a “subset of documents” requested by the select committee. Ferriero notified the White House of Trump’s assertions of privilege in a letter Friday, according to Remus.
Remus wrote that the National Archives should turn over the pages of documents to the select committee within 30 days of notifying Trump “absent any intervening court order.”
Remus on Monday reiterated the White House’s view that Congress has a “compelling need” to understand the circumstances that led to the Jan. 6 attack and that the constitutional protection of 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.”
Last week, Trump filed a lawsuit in federal court in Washington, D.C., seeking to block the panel from obtaining the documents from the National Archives. The former president argued that the Jan. 6 select House committee has not demonstrated a legitimate legislative purpose to override his privilege claims and that the committee’s request is unconstitutional due to its breadth.
The Jan. 6 panel has vowed to fight the lawsuit, which set off what is likely to be a prolonged legal battle over executive privilege and Congress’s investigative authority.
It’s not clear how Trump will fare in the suit. While the Supreme Court previously ruled during the Nixon era that former presidents have some authority to assert executive privilege, the full scope of the question hasn’t been addressed. A federal judge in D.C. has scheduled a Nov. 4 hearing in Trump’s lawsuit against the committee.
Updated at 8:41 p.m.