The Biden administration has moved to block an attempt by former President Donald Trump to keep documentation related to the Jan. 6 Capitol attack under wraps.
In a letter to the National Archives from White House Counsel Dana Remus viewed by HuffPost, the White House said that, having assessed the information, it would allow Trump-era documentation to be released to the House Select Committee investigating the deadly riots.
Trump indicated earlier this week that he planned to sue to block the committee’s subpoenas, citing executive privilege ― the concept that presidents have the right to keep some communications and information secret.
The Biden White House’s move could trigger a battle over executive privilege between the two presidents in court.
“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,” Remus said.
“The constitutional protections of executive privilege,” she wrote, “should not be used to shield, from Congress or the public, information that reflects a clear and apparent effort to subvert the Constitution itself.”
“These are unique and extraordinary circumstances,” Remus added later, calling the Jan. 6 riot “the most serious attack on the operations of the Federal Government since the Civil War.”
The White House is not, however, ruling out the possibility that it may block other Trump-era presidential documentation from reaching committee members’ hands. Rather, it will make those decisions as needed.
The House committee is seeking a wide array of communications and documentation from around the time of the Capitol attack. Some of the information it has requested from the National Archives and certain federal agencies, and other information is being demanded of individuals who worked closely with Trump at the time.
Trump sent a letter to four such individuals ― former Trump adviser Steve Bannon, former chief of staff Mark Meadows, former Defense Department official Kash Patel and former White House social media chief Dan Scavino ― ordering them not to comply with the committee’s requests. The four were asked to supply documentation to the committee by Thursday and appear before its members for questioning next week.
Of the four, only Meadows and Patel are “engaging” with the committee, it said in a Friday statement.
Bannon has explicitly declared his intention to defy the subpoena, arguing that he does not have the authority to comply with it given Trump’s assertion of executive privilege.
Committee Chair Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) and Vice Chair Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) said they “will swiftly consider advancing a criminal contempt of Congress referral” for the uncooperative witnesses.
S.V. Date contributed reporting.