Trump Sues Jan. 6th House Select Committee, National Archives To Block Release Of White House Records

Trump Sues Jan. 6th House Select Committee, National Archives To Block Release Of White House Records

Mona Salama
Mona Salama
|
October 18, 2021

Former President Donald Trump filed a lawsuit to prevent the release of White House documents from the National Archives to the Democrat-led House "unselect" committee that's investigating the Jan.6 Capitol riot attack, calling the probe "a vexatious, illegal fishing expedition."

"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," the lawsuit reads. "Our laws do not permit such an impulsive, egregious action against a former President and his close advisors."

Trump's lawyers filed the suit in D.C. district court Monday. The lawsuit names the House Select committee chair, Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS), the Democratic-led panel, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) which store presidential records, and the archivist, David Ferriero.

In the lawsuit, Trump's lawyers ask a federal judge to declare the entire request from the select committee to be invalid and to block the National Archives from turning over any materials to Congress in response to the request. They also specifically ask the court to block the Archives from turning over any documents that Trump states are covered via executive privilege.

Trump's lawyers in the suit asked the federal judge to declare the entire request from the House select committee to be invalid and specifically ask the court to block the Archives from turning over any documents that the former president states are covered by executive privilege. The suit zeroes in on the Presidential Records Act, a federal law governing access to White House documents, with Trump's lawyers argue that if the act permits a sitting president to overrule a former president on privilege, then it is unconstitutional.

"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 lawsuit notes.

President Biden green-lit the release of Trump's records last week, citing "unique and extraordinary circumstances," thus declining to assert executive privilege over certain documents that were requested from a previous president.

Trump earlier this month vowed to "take all necessary and appropriate steps" to shield his presidential records from the "Committee's fake investigation" after his successor rejected his request to withhold his White House document.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Biden "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 justify transparency of Trump's administration's records.

In a statement from his Save America Pac, Trump said, "The Jan. 6 Committee is a partisan sham to distract Americans from the Democrats' policies that are killing and robbing Americans."

Taylor Budowich, Trump spokesman, tweeted following the news breaking, "Today, President Trump filed a lawsuit in defense of the Constitution, the Office of the President, and the future of our nation, all of which the sham Unselect Committee is trying to destroy."

The Jan. 6 House select committee asked the National Archives back in late August for a vast amount of records pertaining specifically to Trump and his administration communications on Jan. 6, the day of the attack. The panel also asked for documents going back to Apr. 1, 2020, related to Trump's plans for his 2020 presidential campaign, including records concerning polling and any documents given to Trump showing polls that he might lose his re-election bid.

The committee is set to vote on Tuesday on whether to move forward with a criminal contempt referral to Trump's former aides seeking their testimony. Thompson previously stated his plans to fight any executive privilege claims, noting former White House strategist Steve Bannon's resistance to comply with a subpoena. The other three of Trump's former aides, also subpoenaed, are reported to be "engaging" with the committee.

Mona Salama

Mona Salama

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